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Bare Metal Disaster Recovery

What is bare metal disaster recovery?

Bare metal disaster recovery (BMDR) is a technique in the field of data recovery and restoration, such that backed-up data can be restored to a computer system from “bare metal” — not requiring any particular software, or even operating system, to be installed for the restore to be successful.

Typically, backed up data includes OS, relevant applications, and all basic data to rebuild and eventually restore the system to a new or separate device. In many restoration configurations, the device(s) receiving the restore often need an identical build to the source hardware, however some virtualization methods, combined with thoughtful planning, can allow for a bare-metal restore to a device with a completely different configuration.

Bare metal restoration may be required in cases such as:

  • Hard drive failure or system crash
  • Lost or stolen laptop
  • Server hardware refresh
  • Transition from physical to virtual servers
  • New PC or laptop
  • Transition from HDD to SSD
  • Software upgrade disaster
  • Virus that corrupts the local operating system

BMR solutions

Bare metal recovery (BMR) is built on two major components. The first component is code that snapshots an OS partition using one of many different image backup technologies. The scheduler built into the software backup program takes backups of the live machine without any requirement to shut down services, close applications, or go offline.

These image backups are normally stored to a SAN, NAS device, or some other form of large scale storage. Sometimes, these backups are sent to an online storage service for quick access later.

The second part of a BMR solution involves booting on the new system. This enables user connection to the online image backup location in order to initiate the restore. When the partition has been restored, the only thing necessary to finalize the system recovery is to remove the initial media and restart the machine.

Static image backups are often run at 24 hour increments, with options for additional backups customized for specific IT needs between main backups. One of the newer technologies within BMR is Continuous Image Protection (CIP), which offers complete protection for all applications on the main system’s disk.

Using a standard backup software system, disk restoration after failure can take anywhere from two hours all the way up to a couple of days to complete. When implementing a BMR system, image restoration time can occur in under 10 minutes. Not only is BMR a much faster solution, it’s often a simpler process to enable a file restoration. Another benefit is BMR products’ ability to be scripted. Often times, imaging applications enable bare-metal restores by pushing the image of the entire disk to local or offsite storage. They then write those images to other physical disks.

Data Recovery as a Service

Data Recovery as a Service (“DRaaS”) is a form of BMDR that lets you boot from a bare-metal backup in a virtual environment, on-demand. Though conceptually very similar, there are some key differences between the two approaches.

Key differences between DRaaS and bare metal recovery
  • Speed: With BMR, a user needs to restore the image to a server – only can they then boot up the system. But with DRaaS, the actual system is converted into a virtual machine during the initial setup, so it can be booted immediately.
  • Scale: When using BMR as the recovery system, the number of systems covered can determine the length of time spent reestablishing a working device environment. This process can be extremely inefficient when increasing server scale. With DRaaS, cloud infrastructure allows for a huge increase in scale without any overhead increases, allowing systems to be booted in parallel without delay.
  • Downtime Goals: The goal of BMR is to return a system to a functioning state ready for production use. It does not necessitate disaster or imply an emergency state. On the other hand, DRaaS is about returning a system to a functional state as quickly as possible.

Why bare metal disaster recovery is important

Recovering from a catastrophic disaster can be a challenging process, requiring significant investments in both time and labor. Often, expensive hardware purchases are required, including the machine environment (OS, Systems, Apps) in order to guarantee effective restore migration. Deciding on the right backup and restore approach, and properly implementing that procedure, is paramount for trustworthy IT operations. BMDR is an important strategy for many business use cases where systems need to be restored with extremely high fidelity to their original state.

Learn more about bare metal disaster recovery

Related Terms

Further Reading

How Barracuda Can Help

Barracuda Backup is the industry’s easiest to manage solution to protect all your data from natural disasters, hardware failures, cyber-attacks and more – regardless of where the data resides. Backed up data can be restored from local storage, offsite backups, and the Barracuda cloud in a fraction of the time of traditional purpose-built backup appliances. Recovery options include image-based restores and bare metal backups in case of the loss of backup hardware.

Do you have more questions about Bare Metal Disaster Recovery? Contact us today.