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D2D (disk to disk) backup issues

Posted on 2010-01-05
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Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Due to an exponential increase in storage use at my company due to a philosophical change in business, tape backups have become problematic due to size issues.   Knowing that HDD capacity and pricing has reached a point that for a backup medium it is VERY attractive.  We recycled an older system, put in a hot swap capable RAID card and removable trays and loaded up Arcserve.  Now when we started we immediately realized that W2K3 server was not going allow us to use the HDDs in the manner in which we were expecting.  It perceives each of the drives a different drive.  We were expecting that either with the hot swap card or drivers, that the HDDs would be seen as removable media.  Instead each drive wants it own drive letter or mapped mount point.  I have searched the internet and have so far been unsuccessful in figuring out how to overcome this W2K3 obstacle (GPT is such a pain)  So my question to this august site is.... anyone else have a better method? Or can someone give assistance on how to achieve our goal of having the drives seen as removable media?
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Question by:Capform_IT
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by:SStory
ID: 26182341
Well, if you are going to go that route, why not a external USB hard drive?  

There are other solutions. I would only recommend them if you have multiple locations and could use pure disk backup.  For example if you had two sites, you could backup to disk on one and transfer to the other if tape is out of the question.  R1soft is a pretty good piece of software that does continual backups to disk. It can run on Linux and can backup Windows server as well as Linux boxes. I accidentally blew away a fully loaded (not production) machine when testing it and R1Soft did a bare metal restore and got it back up and running. You might also want to consider it.

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by:Capform_IT
ID: 26182377
In a word, speed.   We are running AppAssure for those contingencies.
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by:SStory
ID: 26182509
Well RAID as you know is meant for redundancy and is hot swappable so that you can keep on trucking with the same thing. I don't think it is meant for what you are attempting to do.  

I don't know how much data you are needing to back up. Here is 1TB external SATA:
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=external+sata+hard+drive&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=8330319083518968441&ei=2npDS-iwLdiQtgeE0qCBAg&sa=X&oi=product_catalog_result&ct=image&resnum=4&ved=0CD0Q8gIwAw#

So you could add a SATA card with external ports and use that I guess. I haven't tried it and don't know if you can hot connect SATA in this way or not.  There are also external firewire drives.
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by:SStory
ID: 26182536
Here is more info on eSATA
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-esata.htm

Would that work for you with a bunch of 1TB drives?
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by:arnold
ID: 26182649
The issue is which RAID card you have and whether you configured the RAID card/volume or whether it is operating in the default JBOD mode (Just a Bunch Of Disks).
During boot or the card may have a utility through which the RAID can be managed from within windows.
You would need to group the drives into a single RAID volume (RAID 5, etc.)
This way there will be a single Device presented by the RAID card to the Windows 2003 server.  You can either partition the drive on the windows side or possible within the RAID controller options.

See raid definition
http://acnc.com/04_00.html

Good luck.
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by:Capform_IT
ID: 26182668
That is kind of what I was thinking as well regarding RAID. The main reason we went with that particular card was due to the few instances I found on the internet pertaining to this issue was the need for a hot swap card.   I didn't think it pertained to this but wanted to cover our bases.  eSATA does the same thing when we tried it.
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by:Capform_IT
ID: 26182680
Hmmm interesting advice pertaining to the JBOD.   I will check with my cohort and see if he made that distinction.
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by:Capform_IT
ID: 26182779
I apologize to the ones who have offered advice to this point, my cohort looked over the responses and he quite correctly pointed out that hot swap isn't the problem (card was set as JBOD)  as we can switch HDDs all day long, it is the fact that they aren't seen as removable devices that is holding us up.   Even using a eSATA external bay doesn't change the way W2K3 Svr sees the drives as standalone individual drives.
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by:arnold
ID: 26184437
The issue in JBOD all the card does is provide a connection mechanism.  I think win2k8/Vista were the first to handle hot swap sata in the same way all use the usb.

Once the card is changed from JBOD to RAID (not RAID 0), only the card will see the events when one drive fails and needs to be replaced.  It all depends on the card whether simply pulling the failed drive and replacing it is sufficient. or whether a utility needs to be used to "notify" the card that a failed component is being removed and when a new one is inserted the card will automatically handle the rebuild of the RAID or will the use of the utility to start the rebuild be needed.
The windows server will only see a single large disk presented by the RAID card.
 
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by:Capform_IT
ID: 26184813
Arnold, are you saying that W2K8 would handle the drives as removable media?
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SStory earned 2000 total points
ID: 26185423
No matter what you do, you have the issue of the lazy writer perhaps no having flushed to disk. This is why USB disks need to be "Safely Removed" before unplugging if you've written to them. I have made a copy before and unplugged a USB drive and lost it all.  I'm not sure how you would dynamically map a drive letter to the removable....

This was written about Citrix. The premise might be useful:
http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/guestbloggers/archive/2007/02/14/how-to-use-hot-pluggable-client-usb-storage-devices-with-citrix-presentation-server.aspx

I was thinking, add a separate sata card to do eSata, forget the RAID and do removable that way. The only problem you have is dynamically finding the newly added drive and mounting it somewhere.

One more thought. For all tapes I have to first initialize them.  So what if you had a bunch of external SATA drives and stuck them in one by one and assigned them drive letter Z:.  I'm not sure if it would remember this or not, but if so, the tape software would know to look at Z: for the removable drive.
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by:arnold
ID: 26185445
SATA/esata drives not as removable, but hot swapable. I.e. the system will not panic if a non OS drive is removed.
SATA Is a hot swapable interface, pre win2k8/vista the drivers and OS handling for/of sata were not setup to handle the connect/disconnect/reconnect of SATA as the drivers for USB/FireWire/ieee1394 interfaces do.

Your issue is that you have purchased a RAID card but are using it as a SATA expansion card which you could have had at a much lower rate (possibly one third the cost).

Which SATA raid controller do you have? Did you get 3Ware SATA RAID controller?
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by:arnold
ID: 26185534
Did not pay enough attention to the last paragraph, if you want to use removable drives, use USB/Esata/Firewire external Enclosure instead of the hot-swap as the hot-swap was not designed for.

I think the esata external enclosure may behave as an external USB enclosure and will get the first next drive letter.  With the USB the enclosure has a specific characteristic such that if you assign it a specific drive letter, i.e. y or o it will get that letter every time it is plugged in.  I think there is a USB device/registry map that ties the letter to the device.

In the scheme of things, you are trading replacing tapes with replacing drives. Other than the improved performance of the backup (disk to disk is much faster) what have you gained?  Often the disk-to-disk often have a backend disk-to-tape for archival or longer periods of retention.
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by:Capform_IT
ID: 26185572
Arnold: Yes, we are using a 3ware SATA RAID (looking for maximum performance, we tried a cheap Rosewill SATA controller w/o luck)

SStory: yes, we have done a series of drives and the only way to get them to work is to label them either a specific drive letter or mount point.   W2K3 does remember them due to the GUID Partition Table (GPT) it uses.

I have a sinking suspicion that the only way we are going to get this to work is to do the mounted folder method and go from there.   I really thought that there would be some method of setting a hard drive to be removable either via the drivers, program or "trickery".  
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by:Capform_IT
ID: 26185592
Arnold, we have tried the basic eSATA enclosure method w/o luck.   Have not pursued the more advanced ones.... may have to give them a look.  
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by:arnold
ID: 26185765
The problem is that you are not seeing any performance boost because you are using the 3ware RAID controller as a simple internal SATA port multiplier.

The setup you have could be an alteration from disk-to-tape to disk-to-disk-to-tape.  this way the backups (disk-to-disk) will run quickly and smoothly yet you will maintain the archive/longer term backup you may be required.

I.e. the amount of data you are backing up has doubled along with the amount of time it takes the backup to complete.
The above setup disk-to-disk-to-tape will speed up the backup process (disk-to-disk). The writeout to tape will have a single process that would not need to deal with resource contention and queues.  Check your backup software to see whether it supports the disk-to-disk-to-tape.
The benefit of such a setup is that a restore of a recent items that is still on backup disk will be quick and would not need the tape.
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