1) Use a drive imaging package like Acronis or Ghost. We use Acronis and it works excellent. A complete backup can be had in less than 20 minutes. This is handy for manual backups, though Acronis does have an enterprise package that will do scheduled images of the entire drive.
2) If you're using an MCS with RAID1 (Mirrored Drives) you can purchase another spare drive and remove half of the mirror. If the server ever fails (or the installed drives) you can recover simply by replacing the primary drive and booting it up. This is the fastest restore method, though more costly and not a nightly backup solution.
I tried to backup once Win2k3 appliance with Ghost (from Hirens CD), and backup was successful but restore wasn't. Maybe it wasn't successful due to huge backup file (appr. 20 GB). On the other hand, interesingly, I was able to browse for most of files in this Ghost image.
I hope you folks will (did) not have the same problem
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