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Netting Out NetBackup

NetBackup Snapshot Client Terminology Explained

Created: 05 Sep 2013 • Updated: 05 Sep 2013 • 7 comments
AbdulRasheed's picture
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Recently one of the fans of NetBackup on Facebook asked a question. Although his questions were specific to the difference between Snapshot client backup and regular backups, I thought it might be better to explain this in a blog and post this for the benefits of newer NetBackup Administrators.

NetBackup Client: The client side of NetBackup software on the system being protected. Its role is read from disk; send data to backup storage and metadata to backup catalog.

NetBackup Snapshot Client: The feature on NetBackup client that takes snapshot of file system state or application prior to performing backups. On UNIX/Linux platforms, this operation requires a specific policy attribute to be turned on to use this feature. On Windows, this feature is automatically enabled to make use of Windows’ Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).

What is the value of Snapshot Client over regular NetBackup client?

On UNIX/Linux platforms, Snapshot Client feature enables you to take the snapshot of supported file systems prior to taking backups. You also have the ability to offload the backup to an alternate client or media server when making use of this feature.

On Windows platforms, Windows VSS integration already provides the ability to take the snapshot even when Snapshot client attribute is not turned on in the policy. Hence the primary advantage of using Snapshot client on Windows is to offload the backup to an alternate client (that can also be a media server).

FlashBackup: FlashBackup is a backup method (based on Symantec’s patented technology) that provides the performance advantage of backing up the raw device while providing you the flexibility to restore individual files from the raw device backup. Note that traditional raw device/partition backups require you to restore the entire partition. In FlashBackup, the file system structure and metadata is indexed using a patented technology after which the entire device is read in raw mode.

Is FlashBackup a Snapshot Client feature?

Yes, FlashBackup is a feature of Snapshot Client. However, you may not need to specifically turn on Snapshot Client attribute in the policy because the use of snapshots is implied when you set your policy type to FlashBackup. The default Snapshot method for the file system (e.g. VSS for Windows, nbu_snap for Solaris, vxfs_snap for HP-UX etc.) is chosen with FlashBackup, but you do have the option to override it in the policy.

How about VMware/HyperV policy type?

These are also special cases of Snapshot Client where FlashBackup technology is enhanced further (there is a set of technologies under the umbrella named Symantec V-Ray) to provide agentless backups of virtual machines from an offhost system. The inner-workings of Symantec V-Ray are covered in this blog series.

Do you have questions or clarifications on terminology? Engage with NetBackup on Facebook/Twitter and we may post a detailed response here in Connect. 

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Magnifico's picture

Thank You for this blog. I have one question, ok two questions:

1. Can I backup Windows operating system with Flashbackup (sector-level backup as I understand) ?

2. Can I use also BareMetalRestore with Flashbackuped Windows operating system?

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AbdulRasheed's picture

Hi Magnifico, 

Although there are two questions, the answers are quite related!

The purpose of FlashBackup is support those data sets where traditional file system walk-through is painfully slow. For example, if you have a file system with large number of (millions and millions of) files, it takes more time just to traverse the file system than it takes to read file data. This is where FlashBackup comes to the rescue where our file system level intelligence (developed during Veritas days if you are curious) in mapping content without traversing the file system is employed to map the file system and back up the underlying raw device as a single entity.

When it comes to Windows System Disk (the OS partition, usually the C:\ drive) FlashBackup is not supported for two reasons. First of all, it is not a good use case as OS partition does not contain millions and millions of files (well, at least not yet!). Secondly, the system state data cannot be mapped like the regular files on a standard NTFS file system.

You might have already guessed the answer to the second question by now. Since a FlashBackup backup of Windows System Disk is not supported, it is not suitable for use in bare metal recovery. We recommend you to use regular Windows backup policy (which uses VSS snapshot to create a point in time copy of file system and System State) to use BMR. This has an additional advantage of doing dissimilar system restore. If you original system is damaged/lost, you could perform bare metal recovery to an alternate (and potentially dissimilar make or model) system after booting it from a boot server or recovery disk.

If you would like to see the full list of restrictions in using FlashBackup, it is available here: http://www.symantec.com/docs/HOWTO50362

Warm regards,

Abdul "Rasheed" Rasheed

Tweet me @AbdulRasheed127

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Magnifico's picture

Thank You, I have now clear picture and 100% sure its really not allowed today. But please tell Symantec engineers that they put this possibility into next version. Question is not about millions files. Question is about the real fact that backing up operating system through sector-level is more reliable than backing it up through file-level. "regular" NetBackup backup is file-level backup, and I dont want to use file-level backup to back up operating systems. Reasons are many. I have special software that writes data into special hidden place in partition - this information is not in files and file-level backup cant backup this data. Also nowadays disk defragmenters do much work to optimize files and put them in order, in sector-level. Also its faster than file-level backup. Yes, documents and data is always better to backup in file-level (I dont mean millions), because files can change its location in partition sectors, without changes in files itself. Example defragmenting partition, transporting data into new storage etc.........About "system state". System state is registry (that is also file) and windows internal databases. They are also all files, only problem is with transactions those windows keep some time in memory before it writes data into disk (disk cache flush dont help always, because data is not in cache but in memory reserver space). With sector-level backup, there is no importance about files at all, there is no files at all, there is only sectors. You dont need to know about files if you backup all used sectors (intelligent sectors backup). Typical software that back up sector-level are R1Soft and Acronis (still my favourites). This backup is not 'crash conistent', it uses also windows VSS. VSS dont put restrictions about file-level or sector-level backup. You dont need to backup only file-level, you can backup also sector-level when VSS is in use. Today most sector-level backup software allows even to restore individual files, because they keep tracks about filesystem also, they get this information from already backed up sectors, not directly from source. So, please tell engineers that they put sector-level backup into next version. I think they completely understand this topic. Thanx!      

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AbdulRasheed's picture

I was answering your questions on FlashBackup. I understand what you are asking here. Symantec is not a stranger to sector level backups. In fact, Symantec pioneered it Norton Ghost days! The product where this capability is currently made available is called Symantec System Recovery 2013. It provides everything you are looking for plus a lot more.

Server Edition: http://www.symantec.com/system-recovery-server-edition

Desktop Edition: http://www.symantec.com/system-recovery-desktop-edition

Both these come with Symantec System Recovery Management Solution (http://www.symantec.com/system-recovery-desktop-edition/agents-options-add-ons ) at no additional cost. This capability lets you manage up to 20,000 SSR clients from a single management server.

I understand that you are asking to bring sector level backup to NetBackup Client. Please do post this request on Symantec Connect Ideas https://www-secure.symantec.com/connect/backup-and-recovery/ideas and let the community members vote. Our Product Management team actively monitors ideas and votes and do prioritize upcoming features based on community demand. As you can see here, we do post the status (In review, partially implemented, fully implemented etc.) if an idea is in high demand for the market where the product serves.

Thank you for sharing your perspective. 

Warm regards,

Abdul "Rasheed" Rasheed

Tweet me @AbdulRasheed127

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Magnifico's picture

I remember Ghost very well from old days. It was file-level copy software. I dont name it as backup software. In some period (dont remember exactly) Symantec used Powerquest V2i Protector in its product. Powerquest V2i protector was almost exactly as now Acronis.

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faizykhan89's picture

Hi Abdul,

Can I backup Clone BCV Oracle databses without snapshot client ?

 

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AbdulRasheed's picture

Yes, TimeFinder based BCV backups are supported for Oracle. Please see the Snapshot Client compatibility guide for all supported configurations. 

Warm regards,

Abdul "Rasheed" Rasheed

Tweet me @AbdulRasheed127

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