NovaBACKUP Security Blog

How to do a Bare Metal Restore after a Hard Drive Failure


The reality is, that hard drives fail and if you do not perform a backup of your hard drive, you could lose your data. A bare metal restore will allow you to restore your hard drive data to a "bare-metal" system, which does not have any software or operating system installed on it. This post will cover how to do a bare metal restore using a bootable NovaBACKUP recovery CD after a hard drive failure. To learn more about bare metal restore, view our post on Bare Metal Restore: How & When to Use It.

In order to restore a NovaBACKUP image backup in a bare metal restore scenario, you first need to create a bootable Disaster Recovery CD or thumb drive, which includes a small operating system and software designed to access your backup image.

To perform a bare metal restore of your image backup, you would need to use the bootable Disaster Recovery CD (or thumb drive) that you created in the main NovaBACKUP software to start up your computer. This bootable media will allow you to restore the image backup to a replacement hard drive; for the purpose of this article.

NOTE: Even with a “new” or “replacement” hard drive it is important to test the destination hard drive thoroughly before utilizing it to restore to in a Disaster Recovery bare metal restore operation. There are various tools designed to test your hard drive including the hard drive manufacturer’s own diagnostic tool; you can read this article for more information.


How to do a Bare Metal Restore Using NovaBACKUP to Recover Your Files

Click on the “Restore” function (available within the bootable CD you created) from the menu of items available and select the location of the image backup file. By default, the restore function will only show the files that match the file extension (.NDF), so it should be easy to locate the image file to restore. The image backup file could be stored on a variety of media, including a locally connected external USB hard drive or network path such as a NAS or network share when you go to browse to it.

Once you select the image backup file to restore, you can select which items inside the image backup to restore. You will probably want to restore the entire disk in the image backup, but you can also select only the partitions you want from a disk stored in that image to restore. On the same screen, you will be asked if you are performing a “Machine independent restore” or “Restore to a VHD file,” but these options are not selected by default.  If you are restoring the backup image to the same model of computer that you originally created the image backup on, then you can continue without utilizing either of those options. For information on those two options you can read the following NovaBACKUP online help article.

NOTE: The “Machine independent restore” option would be utilized if you are restoring this image backup to a different model of computer, which contains a different model of motherboard or storage adapter for instance than the original computer that you imaged contained.  The “Restore to a VHD file” option would be if you want to create an output file instead of restoring to another physical disk. The output file is created using the specified name and location and converted to a Microsoft mountable VHD format.

Select the Restore Destination

After you select the portion of the image to restore, you will choose the destination location to restore that image to, normally that would be to a replacement internal hard drive.

NOTE: The destination hard drive would have to be the same size or larger than the source hard drive that the image backup was originally created on. That is key because the first item that will be performed during the restoration of an image backup to the destination hard drive will be that the partition table (structure of the hard disk) will be re-created exactly as it was stored in the image backup.  It will then restore the contents stored in the image backup sector by sector to the destination hard drive.

Once the restore process is started, there will be a status screen that shows various statistics including a progress bar, the percentage completed, and the elapsed time.


After the restore has completed you can remove the Disaster Recovery bootable CD or thumb drive media and restart the computer and your Windows operating system will load and the state of Windows be exactly as it was stored in the Disaster Recovery image backup at the time of creating the image backup.

You can now store that bootable CD or thumb drive media in a safe place, possibly even keep another copy of that media offsite away from your business.  You could even store the Disaster Recovery image backup (.NDF) file on a completely separate media such as another hard drive that you use for offsite storage so that it is not accidentally overwritten or deleted inadvertently. This way you can utilize it in the future, should you ever need to restore the image backup again.