Capability: Data Protection and Recovery

Data Protection and Recovery is the fourth Core Infrastructure Optimization capability. The following table describes the high-level challenges, applicable solutions, and benefits of moving to the Dynamic level in Data Protection and Recovery.




Business Challenges

User data on individual PCs isolated from backup policy

Regulatory compliance not accomplished

IT Challenges

End-to-end backup process is incomplete

Disaster recovery plan is insufficient for current organizational needs


Implement backup and restore and defined recovery times via SLA for desktops

Business Benefits

Improved business continuity and availability though continuous data protection

Quick restoration of data provides a seamless working environment

Closer to implementing regulatory compliance

IT Benefits

Improved stability and increased productivity with data protection flexibility

The Dynamic level in the Infrastructure Optimization Model addresses defined backup and restore procedures for desktops.

Requirement: Backup and Restore and Defined Recovery Times via SLA for Desktops


You should read this section if you do not have backup and restore and defined recovery times, via SLA, for 80 percent of your desktops.


In the Infrastructure Optimization Planning Guide for Implementers: Standardized to Rationalized guide, you read about defining backup and restore policies for servers by establishing service level agreements (SLAs). To move to the Dynamic level, you need to apply the same concepts and services by establishing SLAs with your desktop users.

Regular backup of local hard disks prevents data loss from a disk or drive failure, disk controller errors, power outages, viruses, and other serious problems. Careful planning of backup operations and reliable equipment can make file recovery easier and faster. Using Backup in Windows XP and Windows Vista, you can back up data to tape, optical disc, or a compressed file, or you can store your backup files on a network share. In addition, there are several enterprise-class desktop backup management solutions available from Microsoft partners.

Phase 1: Assess

During the Assess phase, examine the inventory of the desktop operating systems and device types (desktop or laptop) your organization has in production. As a requirement for previous levels in the Core Infrastructure Optimization Model, your organization should currently have Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista operating systems on 80 percent or more of your desktop and laptop computers. An inventory in this case will be used to determine how client computers are backed-up and data restored.

Phase 2: Identify

In the Identify phase, we will determine the goals of the backup and recovery service for desktop computers. SLAs will dictate the frequency and nature of device backups, acceptable windows between backups, necessary performance compromises, service variations between user roles, and how restore requests are processed and resolved. Automated backup schemes may vary depending on how the client computer is used, applicable laws or regulations for data processed, or sensitivity of the data processed. The identified goals should address these concerns as well as the expectations of end users.

Phase 3: Evaluate and Plan

During the Evaluate and Plan phase, you will examine the technologies available to meet the goals identified during the previous phases. The guidance in this section is based primarily on the Windows XP Professional Resource Kit: Backing Up and Restoring Data. Windows Vista system tools for backup and restore (Backup Status and Configuration tool) are similar to those described in this guide.

Backup Types

Deciding which type of backup to use depends on your organization’s needs. The two major considerations are the value of the data and the amount of data that has changed since the last normal or incremental backup.

The types of backup you can perform are described in the following sections.


A normal backup copies all selected files and marks each as having been backed up. Normal backups are the easiest to use for restoring files because you need only the most recent backup file or tape to restore all the backed-up files. Normal backups take the most time because every file that is selected is backed up, regardless of whether it has changed since the last backup.


An incremental backup reduces the time required to complete the backup process by saving only files that have been created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup. It marks files so that you will know whether a specific file has been backed up. You need to create a complete normal backup of your system before you can run incremental backups. If you use a combination of normal and incremental backups to restore your data, you must have the last normal backup set of media as well as every incremental backup in chronological order since the last normal backup.


A differential backup can reduce the time required to complete the backup process by copying files that have been created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup. It does not mark files as backed up. You need to create a complete normal backup of your system before you run differential backups. If you use a combination of normal and differential backups, you must have the last normal backup media set and the last differential backup set to restore your data.


A copy backup copies all selected files, but it does not mark each copied file as backed up. Copying is a useful temporary method to back up files between normal and incremental backups; it does not affect other backup operations.


A daily backup copies all selected files that have been modified on the day that the daily backup is performed. The backed-up files are not marked as backed up.

Some backup types use a backup marker, also known as an “archive attribute,” to track when a file has been backed up. When the file changes, Backup marks the file to be backed up again. Files or directories that have been moved to new locations are not marked for backup. Backup allows you to back up only files with this marker set and to choose whether to mark files when they are backed up.

Storage and Media

Windows can back up files to a variety of storage devices. Data can be backed up to tape drives, disk volumes, removable disks, and network shares, or to a library of discs or tapes in a media pool controlled by a robotic changer. If you do not have a separate storage device, back up to a local hard disk or to floppy disks.

Storage Devices

When you select a storage device, consider storage device and media costs, as well as reliability and capacity. Ideally, a storage device has more than enough capacity to back up the combined data of all local hard disks and can detect and correct errors during backup-and-restore operations. For information about specific storage devices, see the Windows Catalog at

Media Types

The most common medium is magnetic tape. Commonly used tape drives for backup include a quarter-inch cartridge, digital data storage (DDS), 8 mm cassette, Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT), digital linear tape (DLT), and Super DLT (SDLT). High-capacity, high-performance tape drives typically use small computer system interface (SCSI) controllers. Other types of media include magnetic discs, optical discs, and CD-ROMs—recordable CD-ROM (CD-R) and rewritable CD-ROM (CD-RW).

Establishing a Backup Plan

When you develop your backup plan:

  • Keep spare hardware and media on hand in case of a failure. To avoid a problem, compare the spare hardware with the original hardware in advance to make sure that the firmware revision is the same as the original equipment.

  • Test backed-up data regularly to verify the reliability of your backup procedures and equipment.

  • Include stress testing of backup hardware (storage drives, optical drives, and controllers) and software (backup program and device drivers).

Several different system configurations can affect your backup strategies. At one end of the range is a simple, stand-alone computer with one user. At the other end is a workgroup network with a computer that is hosting a network public file share.

You can work out a backup solution by performing these four tasks:

  1. Research and select a storage device. When considering new backup hardware, be sure to consider its reliability, speed, capacity, cost, and compatibility with your desktop operating system versions. The media must provide more than enough space to back up all your data.

  2. If necessary, install a controller card in the computer. If you choose to use a SCSI-based tape drive, put the tape drive on its own controller.

  3. Connect your new storage device to the computer so that you can back up the system state data. If you are using an external SCSI drive, start the drive before you start the computer so that the driver can be loaded properly.

  4. Establish a backup media rotation schedule. You need to continue making backups as long as data is created or changed.

Restoring Data

If files or directory services are not accessible, you must restore them. Restore operations are possible only if you have used Backup or another program to back up the files. Using Backup, you can restore the entire backup medium, one or more backup sets, or individual files.

Phase 4: Deploy

The Deploy phase again implements the plans derived from the effort of the previous three phases. As with all Data Protection and Recovery scenarios, it is recommended that deployed solutions for backup and recovery be tested using periodic fire drills to ensure that procedures are functioning as intended.

Further Information

For more information on this topic, go to the Windows XP Professional Resource Kit: Backing Up and Restoring Data guidance on Microsoft TechNet or search for “backup and restore.”

Topic Checkpoint


Established goals for the desktop backup and recovery service.


Defined and implemented a suitable backup and restore service for desktops in the organization and established SLAs.

If you have completed the steps listed above, your organization has met the minimum requirement of the Dynamic level for the Backup and Restore and Defined Recovery Times via SLA for Desktops of the Infrastructure Optimization Model. We recommend that you follow the guidance of additional best practice resources for backup and restore and SLAs.

Go to the next Self Assessment question.