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BE2012 Does not officially support USB Drives as B2D Folders

Created: 28 May 2012 • Updated: 04 Jun 2012 | 15 comments
This issue has been solved. See solution.

Hello,

It disappoints me to say this but Backup Exec do not officially support USB Hard Drives as Backup Devices in 2012. I thought that since they were not 100% supported in 2010 that they would make a few changes but from my understanding they haven't. I just got off the phone from a Symantec Technical support Agent who told me these facts.

So what is the problem?

I run a very basic environment, 1 SBS 2008 Machine and 1 Terminal Server. I have BE installed on the SBS Box and an agent deployed to the terminal server. I have 5 USB Drives that are rotated Monday-Friday. There is 1 Disk Based Storage Device configured in BE that points to "F Drive". "F Drive" then refers to each drive, Mon, Tues, Wed etc,  When they are connected to the server.

The main problem I have encountered so far is trying to figure out what Backup Sets are on what USB Drive. When an inventory is run on the drive it DOES NOT remove backup sets that it doesn't detect on the disk, it keeps them there. Why is this a problem? Well Imagine you have 5 drives, and each drive have backup sets on there. If you open up the 'Backup Sets' tab it will show you Backup Sets that are on all the drives (Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri). It is impossible to tell what backup sets are on the connected USB Drive.

Perfect Example: I had an issue the other night where my backup sets were no recycled properly. It was impossible to determine what backup sets were on the connected drive and why they were not overwritten, because BE shows you ALL Backups Sets not just the ones on the connected drive.

The workaround?

After speaking with Tech Support he suggested to create separate drive letters for each USB Drive. That way I can have separate Disk Storage Devices in BE, and create a pool (Much like what we do in BE 2010 R3 as described by phk here. https://www-secure.symantec.com/connect/articles/h...). This may work for 1 or 2 drives, but imaging trying to assign a different drive letter to 10-15-20 Drives. Say you have a 9 Drives Rotation, M,T,W,T,F1,F2,F3,F4,F5. That means you have to assign 9 different alphabetical drive letters to each and also take into account mapped network drives that may occupy the same drive letter.

Is this a solution...I don't think so.

The other solution is to move away to RDX Drives, that way they can be configured in BE as Removable Disk Cartridge Devices.

Once again is this a solution...I don't think so. All of my clients use standard 2.5" Western Digital USB Drives. I'm NOT going to tell them to go out and spend more money on hardware when what they have is perfectly fine.

I am hoping that my system is setup incorrectly and that someone has a solution. My issue as described above is only 1 but i'm sure there are others that will arise from this. Please Symantec can you do something about this!!

 

Thanks

Peter Sheridan

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Peter Sheridan's picture

One other issue, I got told by tech support to delete everything on my USB Drive and start fresh (to fix my problem where my backup was not recycling the media properly. Once again this is not possible, because there is no way to determine what is exactly on the connected USB Drive...

pkh's picture

I think you are configuring your disks wrongly.

1) In my article that you have quoted, I never said that you should assign the same drive letter to all your disk.  Far from it, I said that you should NOT assign any drive letter to the disks.  BE recognises each disk by their unique diskid.

For earlier versions of BE, you can use the same drive letter for each disk because you can have different B2D folders on each disk.  This practice of assigning one drive letter for all your disk is not recommmended and the document advocating this was pulled.  Since you can only have one B2D folder on each disk for BE 2012, this practice of assigning the same drive letter to all your disk SHOULD NOT be used.

2) You defined one disk storage for all your disks rather than a separate disk storage for each of the disk.  How do you expect BE to show the disk meda when there is only one disk storage defined?  There is no facility to display the disk volume in the Storage tab.  If you had define separate disk storage for each disk, then BE will display them in their respective disk storage.  Thus you will know what disk they are on.

The fact that you have to define separate storage for each disk and then use a device pool is covered in my article and this fact has not changed between BE 2010 and BE 2012.  I think you skipped this step and just use one single disk storage for all your jobs.

 

To delete the media from your disks, you can try displaying them

How to enable or display Hidden backup to disk or Disk Storage (BKF, IMG, OST) media in Backup Exec 2012.

Just to re-iterate what should have been done

1) plug in your disk. Don't worry about the drive letter.

2) define storage on it.

3) repeat Steps 1 and 2 for all your disks

4) define a storage pool for all the storage defined above.

5) target your jobs to this storage pool, NOT to the storage themselves.

Peter Sheridan's picture

Hi Phk,

Thanks for your reply.

So what you are saying is that each USB Drive attached to the server should be assigned a different Driver letter. For example if you rotated 9 Drives:

Drive:Drive Letter

Mon:H

Tue:I

Wed:J

Thu:K

Fri1:L

Fri2:M

Fri3:N

Fri4:O

Fri5:P

And then in Backup Exec you define 9 Backup Folders, Put them in a pool, and then assign the job to the pool?

Hypothetically, what if a client had 15 Network Shares that mapped on logon to the server and you had to configure 15 Disks for rotation. Eventually you are going to come across the issue where one of the mapped network drives is going to overlap with the attached USB Drive. Is this just a case of too bad, only admins generally log onto the server anyway?

In relation to your article, correct me if I’m wrong but didn't that use to describe setting up individual folders on the disk? Thats the way I have configured all of my clients and has worked a treat. I guess times have changed and that’s why you updated/pulled it...

PS. in Step 1 you said "plug in your disk. Don't worry about the drive letter". That kinda contradicts what you said earlier about each drive requiring a different drive letter.. Wouldn't they have to be unique..

pkh's picture

I NEVER said that each drive requires a unique drive letter.  They can have the same or different drive letters.  It does not matter.  Just don't assign them any drive letter.  BE will recognise the disk based on their individual unique disk ids.  The disk can have drive letter E: on one day and drive letter F: on another.  It does not matter.

Note BE runs as a batch job, so mapped does not come into the picture.  Mapped drives are associated with online sessions.

I have not changed my article.  It still says that you define individual B2D folders on each of the disks.

For BE 2012, when you define disk storage on each disk, they are different disk storage (or B2D folders).  You will see them as Disk Storage 0001, Disk Storage 0002, ...  or Disk Cartride Device 0001, Disk Cartridge Device 0002, etc.  These are different B2D folders.  Did you skip this step and just use one disk storage or disk cartridge device?

Peter Sheridan's picture

Hi PHK,

Sorry I understand what your saying now, and appolgies for getting it sooner!!

I still have one problem though.. So B2D Folders in BE are detected based on their Unique ID, not their Drive Letter....

I plug Mondays Drive in, and it gets assigned a Drive letter of "F". In BE i define a new Storage device called Monday and point it to "F" Drive. This drive then gets unplugged and Tuesdays gets plugged in. Tuesdays drive also gets assigned the drive letter "F". This shouldn't be an issue because BE detects B2D Folders based on their Unique ID. As soon as drive F Gets plugged in, Mondays Drive gets made online in BE and a new set of BEData and BEControl folders get written to the disk.

This doesn't seem right does it?

Thanks

Peter

Colin Weaver's picture

If your disks somehow end up with same same ID then this will confuse Backup Exec and in reality the disk manufacturers are possibly doing something that is outside of recommended practice

 

you can check the ID and workaround it with the following info - however please note that if you do have matching IDs on different disks then Symantec would be intersted in knowing the make and model of the disks in question and the disk ID that the disks had.

 

 

Work-around:

  1. Attach first disk to your server and use DISKPART to find the signature
    SELECT DISK #, where # is the disk number in you system (use Disk Management to find disk number).
    UNIQUEID DISK
    This will give you a 4 byte disk ID e.g. "e9eb3aa5"
  2. Now attach the second (or third, etc) and do the same, find the UNIQUE ID, which will show as the same ID as the first. With the same DISKPART tool you can overwrite the ID with a new ID, try incrementing the number with 1 (that is what I did) for each new disk.
    Use the command in DISKPART: UNIQUEID DISK ID=e9eb3aa6, where the ID is the id you choose, this is just an example (see also the article above).
  3. After the ID is changed, I deleted all BE folders from that disk (/BEControl and /BEdata), disconnect the USB drive and reconnected it.
  4. This time BE Storage does not find the disk in the list and you can Add a new disk.
pkh's picture

I don't think you can specify the name of the storage.

Did you delete all the previous storage on all your USB disks?  Since you have previous used these disks wrongly, I am not sure whether there is any thing in BE which "remembers" what previous storage exists on them.

Peter Sheridan's picture

Hi Colin,

Thanks for that. I can confirm that each drive has a unique ID such as 00038A56, CC54DFB5, CC54DFF5 etc. So the issue still remains.

Phk,

I formatted the USB Drives and also reinstalled Backup Exec (I know it sounds drastic but i just wanted to be sure!!)

Thanks

Peter

pkh's picture

Let me get this straight

1) You are starting afresh

2) You plug in the first disk and it is F:

3) you define a storage on it.

4) you unplug it and the storage when offline

5) you plug in the next disk and it is again F:

6) the storage came on-line  and you are unable to define any storage on this second disk.

 

Did you restart the BE services during the above sequence?

Colin Weaver's picture

One point to be aware of what I tested with 2 USB disks recently (on a very slow media server) I could see that my second disk also got detected as online before I had configured a storage device on it. However after waiting a few minutes (without making any changes) the device went offline again, which I put down to my poorly performing server.

Depending on your answer to pkh's queries above and whether if you wait a few minutes it sorts itself out, I suspect you are going to have to speak to support again and get it escalated within support.

 

Peter Sheridan's picture

Correct, and No I didn't restart the services...

However I just tried it again, and this time restarting the services inbetween worked.

So I;

1) defined the storage

2) unpluged the drive

3) restarted the services

4) plugged a new drive in (This time BE didn't detect the previous disk as online)

5) I was able to add in the second storage disk

6) Unplugged the drive

7) Restart the services and did the whole thing again. 

So i'm not sure what would be causing BE to treat the new USB Drive as the same Device if the services are not restarted...

pkh's picture

This is interesting.  I wasn't expecting this result.  In fact, I was expecting the reverse, i.e. when you did restart the services, the new disk got recognised as the old disk.

In the scenario that I outlined earlier, i.e. without restarting the BE services, when you unplug the old disk, did the disk go off-line?  It it did not, i.e. it stayed online, then that could be the problem.

 

In any case, since you are able to configure different storage on each of your disks, you should then define a storage pool for them and target your jobs to this pool instead of individual storage.  Before these, plug and unplug each of your disks, and make sure the storage on them comes online when the disk is plugged in and they go offline when the disk is unplugged.

Peter Sheridan's picture

Hi Phk,

It has got me stumped as well!

Yes in the old scenario where I did not restart the services the disk went offline straight away, but came back online again when a new one was plugged in..

The problem seems to be solved now and I am able to define a storage pool like you suggested. I tested rotating the drives about 20 times and each time was a success.

I tried it again the next day, this time after applying BE 2012 SP1 and it all worked fine again, so maybe that had something to do with it as well.

Anyway not 100% sure, but sure am happy its working now :) Thanks to both yourself and Collin Weaver for your help again!!

Cheers

pkh's picture

Glad that you manage to resolve your problem, although the way that it was resolved is not how I expected it to be.