Testing Emergency Recovery Systems

No matter what emergency recovery system you use, you should check to be sure that it includes all the tools you need for an emergency recovery situation, including fdisk, filesystem-creation tools, an editor, and a copy of your backup program (or its restore companion, for systems that use two programs). Also be sure that the system supports whatever filesystems you use. Some of these tools (particularly floppy-based tools) use older kernels, and so lack support for newer filesystems, such as ReiserFS, JFS, and XFS. If your backup or restore system relies on network data transfers, be sure it includes the appropriate network hardware drivers and whatever clients or servers you need to perform the restore.

You should test your emergency recovery system as well as you can as soon as you create it. Ideally, you should use it to restore a complete and working system. This may be practical if you have a spare computer on which to test it, or even just a spare hard disk. If you're short on such hardware, though, try booting the system and recovering a few files into a temporary directory. Document the use of the system—write down the important recovery commands it supports, where important files and mount points are located, and so on.

Don't assume that the recovery system will continue to work indefinitely. Media can go bad—this is especially true of floppy disks. If you add, delete, or replace hardware, these changes may necessitate changes to the drivers or configuration of the emergency system. If the emergency system uses a password, be sure you remember it. You may need to keep it synchronized with the root password on your main system or make it particularly memorable.

Warning Emergency systems can be used by miscreants who gain physical access to your computers. Your own emergency system might be so abused, but intruders can bring their own boot disks, as well! Chapter 18, "System Security," covers security measures and physical access concerns.

Team LIB

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