The Shortcut Guide to PC Restoration and Disaster Recovery

by Mark Scott


While most organizations depend on information technology to make decisions, keep business moving forward and retain their operational edge, the most significant portion of the process is often neglected and unprotected. The Shortcut Guide to PC Restoration and Disaster Recovery addresses how to protect, upgrade and manage the personal computing environments, as well as its data and the keys to its productivity-enhancing configurations. Techniques for preserving key information and assuring that both applications and operating systems are safe and secure are discussed in detail. In addition, steps for moving desktops from one hardware platform to another as well as how to recover from unplanned disaster quickly and efficiently are outlined in the guide. Lastly, The Shortcut Guide to PC Restoration and Disaster Recovery provides critical analysis to help decisions-makers choose the people, policies and platforms to keep their people working!


Chapter 1: Anatomy of a PC Desktop

Most of you reading this document are sitting in front of your personal computer (PC). For most users, that computer is an integral part of their work environment, often more important than their desk, office, file cabinet, or any other accoutrement found in their workspace. According to Gartner Dataquest, over a billion PCs have been sold, with that number expected to double by 2008 (Source: As cited by BBC News, Most users have, at one time or another, had their PC fail. The cost of recovering from a failure in terms of lost productivity, permanently lost data, frustration, and loss of credibility is difficult to quantify.

The challenge to Information Technology (IT) groups is to keep all those computers running safe and secure. This task can be overwhelming. Most of the information that keeps an organization running is scattered on hundreds or thousands of hard drives. They are located in different offices, regions, and countries. Although it is challenging to copy this information, the backup of these computers can save untold man-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity and the preservation of irreplaceable data. This guide seeks to develop a framework to help the reader understand the issues. That understanding can help organizations develop a PC backup and restoration system that saves money, preserves employee productivity, reduces frustrations, and helps the entire organization operate more consistently and predictably.

Chapter 2: PC Life Cycle Management

In the first chapter, the PC desktop was defined as the ecosystem of hardware, firmware, OS, applications, data files, and configurations that the user thinks of as his or her computer. Although users may think of the tower sitting under their desk or the laptop they tote on the airplane as their computer, it is only one of the components that contributes to their computing experience.

For most organizations, the investment in personal computer hardware is extensive. It is often a target for budget cuts. A carefully thought-out plan can help produce the greatest yield from that investment. The more productive use that workers get from the desktops, the greater is the return from that hardware investment.

Hardware changes and replacement are the central theme of this chapter. Hardware changes are closely linked to desktop restoration because the required capabilities of the desktop restoration system are intimately linked to various types of hardware changes. Conversely, the ability to quickly and effectively manage hardware changes can be strongly improved by a robust, scripted desktop restoration system. Understanding the hardware life cycle changes most organizations encounter will help develop a desktop restoration system that makes the most effective use of that hardware.

This chapter will consider the role that hardware plays in providing a desktop for the user. It will examine the reasons hardware changes and the appropriate steps to take to restore the desktop to full operation once the hardware changes—whether it be small incremental changes or migration to a completely different platform.

Chapter 3: Software Life Cycle Management

A desktop represents an ecosphere of hardware, software, data, and configuration that work together to provide a workspace for the users—a workspace defined in this guide as a desktop. The hardware provides the basic physical foundation on which that workspace is built. The OS and applications provide the individual spaces, services, and amenities to be found in the workspace.

This chapter reviews how changes to that workspace affect an organization’s ability to preserve and restore the workspace as required. It examines the ways in which a desktop recovery solution can help in the process of maintaining the workspace, improving performance, and helping user data and productivity remain secure.

Software tends to be more volatile than hardware. As the desktop changes, the system needs to respond to protect that system and maintain the security of the environment. A well-designed system can help enhance performance at the desktop level and ensure corporate compliance. By examining all elements of the life cycle, from planning through execution, management can devise a system that eases changes and helps keep user data secure and downtime to a minimum.

Chapter 4: Managing the Disaster Recovery Process

When many people think of desktop recovery, it is in association with disaster recovery. The previous chapter explored how to lay the groundwork to use a robust, well-designed desktop recovery system to provide much more than disaster recovery. These systems can be integral in improving security, performance, regulatory and corporate compliance, and other aspects of hardware and software life cycle management.

There is little question, however, that the desktop extends and enhances the ability of each employee to perform his or her individual tasks. The desktop preserves the work product of the employees, with files that can represent hundreds of hours of labor. That work space is housed in a set of hardware that can fail. It can be lost. It can be corrupted or erased. The customizations and configurations that make the desktop so productive for an individual is slightly more complex than bytes stored in the right place on the hard drive. All this investment is worthy of protection.

This chapter will address the role that desktop restoration solutions play in disaster recovery. As with other chapters, it will look at the policies, processes, personnel, and products that help combine to ensure that, should a desktop become inoperable, it can be quickly restored.