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How to backup NetApp 2020s

Created: 30 Jun 2009 • Updated: 21 May 2010 | 4 comments
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Hi All,

We're running rather a small shop here.
We have a Linux Netbackup master/media server with dozen Linux & Windows clients.
A couple of NetApp 2020 are going to be installed soon. Please consider that I'm not familiar with NetApp products and features.

I know that with NDMP I could backup the NetApp the proper way, however the licenses seems to be quite expensive.
We did purchase the SnapMirror license though, as we intend to mirror data from one filer to the other.

For the time being, we'll backup the data mounting the CIFS shares on a Win client.
I wonder if there's a way to use the snapmirror or some other native technology to speed up the backups.

Any idea would be really appreciated.


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John Stockard's picture

There is a way to leverage the NetApp SnapMirror technology to get the data off to tape, but it requires several things:

  1. You need to purchase the NDMP licenses for NetBackup.
  2. You need to install and configure the NetBackup NDMP binaries on your Linux master server (so that the NetBackup master server can make NDMP calls to the NetApp).  Make sure the NDMP binaries are patched up to the same level as the rest of your NetBackup binaries.
  3. If you attach a tape drive directly to the NetApp, you need to configure an NDMP tape device in both the NetApp and in NetBackup.  If you leave your tape drives attached to your Linux master server, you need to define them as "remote NDMP" devices (at least in NetBackup 5.x).
  4. You need to create appropriate NDMP backup policies.
  5. In these backup policies, you need to add the directive "SET TYPE=SMTAPE" as the first line of the backup selections list.  This will tell the NetApp to use "SnapMirror to tape" to back itself up.

However, I have only seen people use "SnapMirror to tape" in situations where they have a volume with millions of files, where traditional NDMP backups are too painful.

By itself, NetApp SnapMirror can only be used to replicate a volume from one NetApp NAS device to another NetApp NAS device.  You can't use SnapMirror to replicate the data from a NetApp NAS device to your Linux NetBackup master server or to your Windows client.

Even if you don't use the "SnapMirror to tape" feature and instead do traditional NDMP backups, you'd still need to do steps 1-4 listed above.

I highly recommend that you do NDMP backups instead of backing up the volume through a Windows CIFS share.  NDMP backups will be faster than trying to drag the data out of the NetApp through CIFS.  In addition, the CIFS backup may not correctly protect all of the ACLs and permissions on the files.  This is especially important if you created a volume on your NetApp that is shared out as both a CIFS share and as an NFS export and is accessed by both Windows and Unix/Linux hosts.  In this situation, files backed up from this volume through CIFS are guaranteed to *not* preserve the Unix ACLs that might be on the files.

Andy Welburn's picture

@John - any more info or links on this "Snapmirror to tape" option? First time I've heard of it & intrigued! ;)

Answered my own question with a little research (or is it RTFM?!).
For info from :
For NetApp NAS file servers with SnapMirror software installed, the NetApp NAS NDMP iDataAgent can perform block level backups and restores of NetApp volumes, which can be significantly faster than traditional backups, particularly for volumes with a very large number of files. Review the following before performing this type of backup and restore:
Please contact your software provider for assistance configuring SnapMirror-To-Tape.
* SnapMirror-To-Tape backups will back up snapshots along with the rest of the volume data.
* Only full backups of whole volumes can be performed.
* Backup Filters do not apply to SnapMirror-To-Tape backups; if filters are added, they are ignored.
* Since In-Place restore of SnapMirror-To-Tape backups of the root volume of a NetApp file server are not supported, we suggest you do not run SnapMirror-To-Tape backups of the root volume. While the root volume can actually be backed up via a SnapMirror-To-Tape backup, the root volume cannot be turned offline, and thus you cannot restore to it.
* When browsing the data for a restore, the volume will be shown, but none of the contents of the volume; this is because only full restore of a whole volume is supported.
* The browse for a restore destination will not show any volumes that are in a restricted state; the restricted destination volume must be typed in the destination path field.
* There is no special indication that SnapMirror-To-Tape was used for a backup. The only indication will be that the browse of the backed up data will not show any contents of the backup, just the volume.
* Only full restores of whole volumes can be performed; this replaces all existing content on the volume.
* The destination volume for restore must be in a "restricted" state (see your Network Appliance documentation on how to set a volume to a restricted state.)
* The restore destination must be the root of a volume, e.g., /vol/vol1.
* Restoring the volume out of place will create a NetApp mirror volume.
* Selecting the Direct Access Restore option will have no impact on the restore.

John Stockard's picture

It's not a well-documented feature of NetApp filers or NetBackup.  The only reference I could find to SnapMirror-to-Tape in Symantec's (Veritas') documentation is this entry in the release notes for the NetBackup 4.5 FP8 patch ( (way back in the day):

Network Appliance "snapmirror to tape" backups fail with error 99.

Additional Notes:
Do not mix non-snapmirror and snapmirror-to-tape backups in the same policy. For example, if the policy's file list contains the following,

set type=smtape

the backup will fail. For a snapmirror-to-tape backup, all volumes specified in the file list must be listed below the "set type=smtape" directive.
(All NetBackup Servers: HP Intel-NT Linux2.2 RS6000 Solaris)

NetApp has some documentation on using SnapMirror-to-Tape, but you need to have a NetApp NOW (NetApp On the Web) account to access it:

NetApp's "Data Protection - Tape Backup and Recovery Guide" for Data ONTAP (the latest General Distribution version of Data ONTAP):
This covers all things related to NDMP, except for the SnapMirror-to-Tape feature.  It's a very good read.

NetApp's "Data Protection - Online Backup and Recovery Guide" for Data ONTAP
This covers all of NetApp's snapshot-based data protection methods (in-volume snapshots, SnapRestore, SnapMirror, SnapVault, A-SIS data de-duplication, SnapLock, Volume Copy, SyncMirror, NVFAIL, SnapValidator, and virus protection for CIFS volumes).  The discussion of SnapMirror-to-Tape starts on page 227.

Andy Welburn's picture

Thanks for the links John, will give them a peruse today ;-)