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How to backup and restore your computer via Network Boot (PXE)

Before we begin

This article describes the simple procedure to boot recovery environment via network (network boot or PXE boot), by using EaseUS software and to restore the backup image of your computer.

If you’ve already tried to find a tutorial how to configure PXE boot, you probably found complicated tutorials, that require knowing other concepts such as: creating PE disk, creating WIM files, bunch of network related terms, and other.

This article describes a simple procedure to use your network as a boot device which can be handy if your computer’s without optical drives or USB ports (or they malfunction for whatever reason).

I used commercial software (trial period is 30 days): EaseUS TODO Backup Advanced Server (homepage) which supports PXE boot feature since version 4.6.

Note that this software also has the “Universal Restore” or Restore to dissimilar hardware feature (I wrote about this feature in Acronis HERE); the purpose of this feature is to recover the backup of one computer to another computer with different hardware.

In order to perform this procedure you must meet the following requirements:

  • Network must be configured for DHCP (this allows network devices to automatically obtain a valid IP address from a server),
  • Server computer must meet the minimum hardware requirements to run EaseUS TODO Backup Advanced Server,
  • Client computer must support booting via network (check your BIOS settings to see if you have this feature).

I tried this procedure at my place with the following setup:

  • Client is Fujitsu Amilo laptop, connected to my modem via standard Ethernet connection,
  • My modem is Huawei HG520b, with DHCP enabled by default,
  • Server is a bit older Fujitsu Amilo laptop with Windows Vista SP2 running, connected to my modem via wireless connection,
  • I use EaseUS to create the backup image of a computer with Windows XP (I did a clean install for this test).

Although it took a while to finish this procedure, you get much benefit from it if you have bunch of PCs – from the single network resource, you can restore an image to multiple computers.

 

Server-side configuration

The first thing to do when configuring the server computer is to check if Windows firewall is enabled; if you turn off Windows firewall, PE environment will require an authentication when you access resources on the network, so enable firewall to avoid authentication. Afterwards, install EaseUS software.

In the next step configure Sharing and Discovery settings in Network and Sharing Center control panel applet. Use the settings from the picture below:

1ControlPanelNetwork

I created folder Deljeni on C partition,  shared it, set permissions for that folder (see the picture below) and put backup image in it (remember that I created backup image of a computer with Windows XP freshly installed):

2WindowsAdvancedSharing

 

To set permissions for the folder Deljeni, right click on that folder, select Properties, click on Sharing tab, and finally select Advanced Sharing. You can configure Permissions here, so you want to set full permissions for Everyone.

Run EaseUS and click on Enable PXE, so the computer can provide PXE boot service:

3EaseUSTodoBackupPXE

By the way, you can create the Windows based bootable disk and by selecting the PreOS option in the boot menu is added another item – Linux.

This completes a server-side configuration.

Client-side configuration

Power on the client computer and enable network boot; this can be done by configuring BIOS, and setting the network adapter as the first boot device (refer to the BIOS documentation), or using one of the function keys to bring up the boot menu and then select your network adapter, or by pressing a function key to select network boot directly. These options vary from PC to PC so check out BIOS settings to see which options you have. On my laptop I had to press F12 to bring up the boot menu, which can be seen in the picture below:

4EnterBootMenuF12
Note: the following “screenshots” are somewhat odd because I took them with my phone camera.

Select your network adapter (LAN section); I selected Realtek Boot Agent:

5RealtekBootAgent

At the beginning, PXE boot agent tries to find DHCP server and to obtain various network parameters:

6DHCPserverPXE

These are obtained parameters (assigned IP address, Gateway, etc.):

7PXEAcquiringLANconfiguration

Shortly afterwards starts the process of copying files to the client computer:

8LoadingBootSdi

EaseUS has its own WIM file to work with (you don’t need to create your own):

9LoadingWinPeWIM

Useful links for further reading: create WIM via ImageX, create WIM via WindowsAIK.

The graphical interface of EaseUS is started:

10MiniPeRunning

Besides traditional features for creating backups, recovery and other, note Recover to dissimilar hardware option to recover selected image to computer with the different hardware configuration:

11RecoverToDissimilarHardware

When selecting a system backup file, browse through your network and select shared folder (Deljeni, in my case) and then select PBD file (EaseUS extension for a backup image) :

12EaseUSpxeRecoverImage

Then select destination disk, click on Restore and wait until this process ends.

When you restart your computer, it will be equipped with a “new image” 🙂

If you like to experiment a little bit more, try to create your own WIM file and then put it on the location where EaseUS reads its WIM file.

’till the next article,
Fil

Summary
How to backup and restore your computer via Network Boot (PXE)
Article Name
How to backup and restore your computer via Network Boot (PXE)
Description
Tutorial to boot recovery environment via network (network boot or PXE boot), by using EaseUS software and to restore the backup image of your computer.
Author
www.CreativForm.com