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Inventory and Catalog - What they do and when to use them

Created: 19 May 2009 • Updated: 03 Jun 2009 | 3 comments
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Scott Meltzer's picture
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Two commonly used features of Backup Exec are Inventory and Catalog.  

Inventory is generally used when you physically change tapes in your tape drive or library and you'd like to inform Backup Exec of the change.  Without performing an inventory, Backup Exec won't know which tape is in which slot of the tape drive or library.

Catalog is generally used when you insert a tape into your tape drive or library that Backup Exec has not previously seen or contains a backup from another office.   When a tape such as this contains data that you'd like to work with, performing a catalog will allow Backup Exec to read the directory information from the tape and populate the Restore tab with the new data allowing you to restore the data if needed.

For specific information about performing an Inventory or Catalog, refer to this Symantec document:

I've provided the following scenarios to illustrate situations when you might use Inventory or Catalog respectively:

- Scenarios for using Inventory - 
  • Scenario 1 You use your tape library to perform a full backup onto the weekends. Your full backup uses two tapes. You remove these "new" backup tapes for offsite storage and replace them with "old" backup tapes to be overwritten by the next full backup. When you insert the old tapes into your tape library, Backup Exec doesn't reflect the proper tape labels in the Device tab.
    SOLUTION > In this case, use Inventory to update Backup Exec with the tape changes that have been made.
  • Scenario 2
    You change tapes regularly, say every Monday morning.  You need to make sure these tapes reflect properly in Backup Exec without manually running an Inventory every Monday.
    SOLUTION > You'll want to schedule an inventory:
  • Click the Devices tab in Backup Exec
  • Select your backup device (Tape Library or Tape Drive)
  • Right-click and choose Inventory from the drop-down menu
  • This will pop up the Inventory job window, choose "Schedule" on the left-hand column.
  • Select the appropriate dates that you'd like to run the inventory. (i.e. If you change tapes on a Monday Morning, run the schedule on a Monday Afternoon)Once you've completed selecting the dates, click "Submit" to add this scheduled job to the job list.

- Scenarios for using Catalog - 
  • Scenario 1
    Your company has multiple offices, each office has Backup Exec and performs full backups of their local server data onto single or multi-slot tape drives.    You have a file server failure in one of your remote offices.  The most recent backup tape has been overnighted to the main office.    The users need access to the failed file server's data.    You insert the tape into the tape library in the main office and attempt to restore data, however, none of the server's data shows up.
    SOLUTION >  In this case, use Inventory first to to update Backup Exec to show the newly inserted tape.   Once you've done that, navigate to the Device tab and the specific slot of the tape from the remote office.  Right-click it and choose Catalog.   This will import the tape's directory information and allow you to restore the data, redirecting the files.
  • Scenario 2 Your server hosting Backup Exec has failed and needed to be reinstalled.   You've got the server back up and running, with Backup Exec and your tape drive installed.   You've inventoried all of the tapes in your tape library, but none of the information shows up in the Restore tab in Backup Exec.
    SOLUTION > Navigate to the Device tab and on each tape slot, right-click it and choose Catalog. This will import the tape's directory information and allow you to restore the dataas needed.

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A_ride_4_ever's picture

I recently had an issue where Bexec12.5 marked all tapes "48" as cleaning media. I followed the instructions given to inventory the tapes, then started a catalog.  After the catalog was done i was able to select my various restore points however I came across a problem where none of the media sets were populated.  Is there a way within backup exec to restore the tapes to the media sets ?  I was told to restore the database from the backup, I followed procedure and ended up with the same results. By the way great article Thanks for explaining it in simpler terms.

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Luke Cassar's picture

Thanks for this!! I was just about to post on the forum how can I auto-inventory a stand alone drive, but this way is just as good!!

Cheers :)

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steven.richardson's picture

I'm still a little confused by this whole thing - I went to have a look at my restore options and saw very few dates available to restore from even though I've had a successful rotation going on. I did a manual inventory and catalog and found more dates show up. So I assume this is what I need to be doing on each disk every day?

My setup uses USB Drives as below:

I have 8 drives - Monday - Thursday 1, and Monday - Thursday 2 i.e. monday1, tuesday 1....monday 2,tuesday

And 5 Friday drives - Friday 1, Friday 2, etc

I run full backups every day, and the idea is that the Friday Drives go offsite and sit for longer without being overwritten.

The USB drives are changed every weekday, how should I schedule an Inventory/Catalog to occur daily so that when I choose the restore option I have all of the dates showing in my Backup Exec restore calendar?


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