Disk Rescue Utilities

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In a scene from “High Plains Drifter,” Clint Eastwood sits at a bar with a whiskey bottle in front of him and tries to discourage three gunmen from messin’ with him. In a true samurai movie moment, Eastwood quickly reaches for the bottle instead of his weapon in an attempt to show the malcontents just how fast he is, to prevent the inevitable gunplay. Eastwood’s use of alternate means was unsuccessful, but when faced with a network operating system (NOS) that won’t load, as a network guru, alternate tools can make your day.


Most systems have some redundancy or built-in recovery mechanism. In many Windows versions, pressing F8 at boot time allows you to go to safe mode, and if you installed Recovery Console in 2000 server, it permits you to change drivers and copy or replace other files. New to Server 2003 is the ability to attempt operational return via ASR (Automated System Recovery), but you have to prepare the backup file of system state, system services and disk information in advance.


If you had the foresight to prepare in advance, another good choice for Windows is Symantec’s V2i Protector 2.0., in versions for servers and workstations. In my hands, it was at least four to five times faster than the most recent version of DriveImage. There is a management console for both versions, so V2i may be deployed enterprise-wide.


At workstations, you have the option of using Norton SystemWorks 2004 (www.symantec.com), whose CD can boot to a limited Windows 9x environment, enough to permit running some of the Norton tools. Though not designated as working on servers, I was able to load OnTrack’s Easy Recovery Professional, available as a download (www.ontrack.com), at a Windows 2000 server, recover deleted files and attempt a format recovery.


OnTrack also makes Data Recovery for NetWare, which offers several enhancements over vRepair. Portlock Storage Manager (www.portlock.com) is a set of disk management tools for both Linux (beta) and NetWare. Storage Manager creates images for bare-metal restore, including across-the-wire recovery, and includes the ability to resize traditional and NSS volumes and partitions. Storage Manager includes limited repair ability. Portlock Central, under development, is designed for remote management of Storage Manager under a GUI of Windows, Linux or Novell servers.


The best set of Windows recovery utilities is offered by Winternals’ (www.winternals.com) Administra-tor’s Pak 4.1. The primary tool, ERD Commander 2003 (see Figure 1), prepares a bootable CD with options to add NIC and disk drivers. Included in the image are Locksmith, to change the local administrator password; FileRestore, to recover deleted files; Disk Commander, to repair damaged partition tables or retrieve data from dead volumes; RegEdit, to import and export registry files; System Compare, to examine differences between a similar bootable system and one that is not; and other useful Windows-like functionality. To access NTFS volumes from a DOS prompt, use NTFSDOS Professional, created via a boot wizard. You may image your volumes off-line with third-party tools or attempt repair by replacing system files. Remote Recover mounts a remote client’s volumes to your host via a client or PXE image so that all your host utilities can be used on the remote machine.


Douglas Mechaber is a network engineer and architect who enjoys finding new ways to make his work easier. Douglas has written for various industry magazines and remains active in several local user groups. He now works as an independent consultant. Send him the names of your favorite utilities at certmag@att.net.

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