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windows server backup - volumes larger that 2TB cannot be protected, backup failed

Posted on 2010-11-25
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hi all,

just checking my backlog after i expanded our storage space and am gettin the error volumes larger that 2TB cannot be protected and backup failed

so windows server backup cant backup larger than 2TB drives? why?

and is there any other windows software or 3rd party software that can and you could recommend?

oh and im on server 2008 R2

Thanks
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Question by:awilderbeast
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Phil_taylor1980 earned 500 total points
ID: 34211581
Two partition styles are used for disks: Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT). Although both 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows Server 2008 support both MBR and GPT, the GPT partition style is not recognized by any earlier releases of Windows Server for x86 or x64 architectures.

The MBR contains a partition table that describes where the partitions are located on the disk. With this partition style, the first sector on a hard disk contains the Master Boot Record and a binary code file called the master boot code that's used to boot the system. This sector is unpartitioned and hidden from view to protect the system.

With the MBR partitioning style, disks support volumes of up to four terabytes (TB) and use one of two types of partitions—primary or extended. Each MBR drive can have up to four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one extended partition. Primary partitions are drive sections that you can access directly for file storage. You make a primary partition accessible to users by creating a file system on it. Unlike primary partitions, you can't access extended partitions directly. Instead, you can configure extended partitions with one or more logical drives that are used to store files. Being able to divide extended partitions into logical drives allows you to divide a physical drive into more than four sections.

GPT was originally developed for high-performance Itanium-based computers. GPT is recommended for disks larger than 2 TB on x86 and x64 systems[/color], or any disks used on Itanium-based computers. The key difference between the GPT partition style and the MBR partition style has to do with how partition data is stored. With GPT, critical partition data is stored in the individual partitions and redundant primary and backup partition tables are used for improved structure integrity. Additionally, GPT disks support volumes of up to 18 exabytes and up to 128 partitions. Although underlying differences exist between the GPT and MBR partitioning styles, most disk-related tasks are performed in the same way.

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by:awilderbeast
ID: 34211598
im guessing MBR is selected as default then, as whenever i add a new disk i just leave it as default

is there a way to change from MBR to GPT and will doing so allow the drive to be backed up once again?

Thanks
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by:Phil_taylor1980
Phil_taylor1980 earned 500 total points
ID: 34211621
Windows Server Backup under the covers of their wizards.  This backup is a block level backup that stores it’s information as a VHD file on the destination disk no matter if it’s on a USB hard drive or a remote drive share.  The SBS team have placed a wizard over the top of this for configuration, but essentially under the covers, it’s just Windows Server Backup.  Other vendors such as BackupAssist have also done a great job to make it easier to use the inbuilt Windows Server Backup.

When the SBS 2008 / Windows Server Backup runs for the first time, it backs up each logical drive on the server to a separate VHD file on the destination media (in SBS this will be a server connected USB hard drive).  The first backup of any logical drive is a full backup where each block is effectively copied over to the VHD file.  The next backup to the same destination media includes just the incremental blocks that have changed since the full backup.  Subsequent backups are only of the changes since the last backup.  All of these blocks/changes are stored within the VHD file for that logical disk.

Ok – so here’s the rub.  VHD files are limited in size to 2TB.  That means that the 2TB VHD that is your destination VHD for any given volume can only contain the base image and changes up to 2TB in total.  That’s pretty much like saying you have a 2TB tape and that’s all you can fit onto it. Once the VHD is full, there is NO OPTION to backup anything more as SBS 2008 / Windows Server Backup only allows FULL VOLUME backups.  There is a process that will kill older snapshots from within the target VHD, but there is no way to determine exactly what will be in any given backup in advance (ie no way you can guarantee that the backup from Monday 2 weeks ago will be on that hard drive).

In Windows Server 2008 R2 and therefore SBSv7 and SBS Aurora, things change a little.  Windows Server 2008 R2 backup has both a block level engine and a file level engine in it.  If the source drive is a 2TB drive then it will automatically switch to file level backup to back it up.  Files will be sent into the target backup device (VHD) until that device reaches 2TB.  At that point it will attempt to prune some older backups. However the destination backup device is still limited to 2TB in total.

What this all means is that if you are using the standard backup engine in Windows Server 2008, then you are limited to 2TB for your backup devices.  It does not matter that you might have a 3TB Hard drive, you simply cannot backup that much data.  Ok – so how do we solve this problem?  The only solution is to use third party products such as StorageCraft ShadowProtect.  ShadowProtect does not have this 2TB limit as it stores it’s files in it’s own file format and also compresses the data that is being backed up.  If you are designing servers that have more than 2TB in a single volume then you will want to think carefully about this aspect of your design.  The standard Windows or SBS backup won’t cut it at all and will leave you without a solution.

Microsoft for their part do not yet have a solution for this problem.  Given they based the destination file format on the VHD format, they have not as yet released any indication of when they will have the ability to extend the VHDs beyond the 2TB limit that they currently have
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by:Phil_taylor1980
ID: 34211630
that one should be more use, i kind of only included have the info in the last one. sorry
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by:noxcho
ID: 34216029
Can you post a screen shot of your Windows Disk Management?
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