potomac

Server Backup Problem; Rotating Offiste Hard Disks

21 posts in this topic

I have two hard drives for my server backups that I am rotating offsite approx. each week. They are 2TB each and for 6 months this has backed up without fail. Now, upon reinserting one of them into the Addonics Drive Cartridge system and reconfiguring the server backup I get the following prompt:

"You selected a drive on a hard disk that is divided into one or more drives. When you initiate this wizard, the server will reformat the following hard disks.
wdc wd20 ears-00mvwb0 scsi disk device disk #3
if you continue, all existing data will be deleted. do you want to continue?"

Any thoughts on what happened, how it can be avoided in the future and how it can be corrected--without wiping the drive? I have inspected the drive and cannot see that it is divided. This has been ongoing for about a month and the other offsite drive is now just about full.

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You wrote that you reconfigured the server backup. Why did you do this? It's possible that this has triggered the reformat message. You should have been able to simply carry on rotating the backup drives.

Once a backup drive is full, WHS 2011 should prune out old backups from the drive automatically and carry on. It will continue to complain that free space is low in server backup, but you can ignore this.

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By "reconfigured" I simply mean that I went through what I thought was the normal and required process to swap drives; which of course may be incorrect. I remove and insert the drive caddy for the server backup by using the add/remove HDD from server backup wizard in the dashboard.

I normally remove the HDD by clicking "Remove the Hard Drive from Server Backup" and then Windows Home Server starts the "Customize Server Backup Wizard". Once the backup is removed I physically turn the HDD off using a key and physically remove the drive. Then do the reverse to add the other drive. Insert HDD, turn key, click "Add the Hard Drive to Server Backup". WHS launches the "Set Up Server Backup Wizard".

If it matters I only have one swap bay on the machine so only one can be installed at a time. Does this sound like the normal routine I should use? I suspect I may have messed this process up to corrupt the one I am having trouble with, but cannot be certain and would like to know.

One thing that concerns me is that I thought HDD's were not at their best when run at full capacity, and should have some space leftover. It seems WHS will continue to run at full forever. Maybe this is only true for active drives with reads and writes like an O/S drive or data drive whereas the backup is cold storage and performance isn't exactly needed? If that is the case I'll go about ignoring that alert--and the alert that says my router isn't configured correctly (port 80 block by ISP).

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Sigh - no wonder you've got problems. You do not rotate the drives in the fashion you describe, even if you only have a single swap bay. You simply rotate the drives. WHS 2011 recognises the individual drives and tracks them.

You've been hitting WHS 2011 over the head with a baseball bat every time to make it forget about the drives. No wonder it's complaining, poor thing.

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Oh, and the drives will fill up. One of my drives bobs along often with less than 1GB free.

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OK! I should be sad, but I'm stoked--albeit a little sheepish--that I no longer have to go through the terribly redundant process I've been going through to swap drives. One of my outstanding solutions to seek out was to figure out a way to simplify the swap process and now I don't have to. :D

Any idea how I can recover the failed drive or should I just wipe it clean and move ahead with half as many backups from the last six months? Thanks a ton by the way; what huge help.

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I think I would just wipe it and start afresh.

I assume that what you do is leave the same drive in the swap bay for a week and then rotate the drive offsite? If you're using the Server Backup function in default mode, then WHS 2011 will take backups to the drive in the bay twice daily. The first time a drive is used, it will get a full backup, and from then on, it gets incrementals. So what you've been doing (by starting afresh each time you swap), is taking a single fresh backup each time you put in a drive. Thus, you don't have backups older than two weeks anyway... This, despite the fact that WHS 2011 may try and tell you that it does have older backups. That's just one of the little quirks we have to get used to...

If you let WHS 2011 track the drives then you can restore images from a much longer period back in the past if you need to...

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Excellent, though disconcerting, blog post you have there. I had skimmed it before, but gave it a solid read through now and have a better understanding of what's going on--or not going on!

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I've been rotating my drives offsite (on an arbitrary basis that varies between one day and three weeks) since I wrote that post. The backups seem to be working fine, but it's interesting that one drive, once it fills up, will soon be cleared by WHS 2011 to start afresh with a full backup, whilst the second drive just bobs along with only ever a few GB to spare. They are both 1TB drives.

A couple of times I've had server backup failures, but these seem to be traceable back to a VSS failure on the SQL database used by MyMovies. A reboot of the server seems to get everything back to normal (at least, so far...).

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it's interesting that one drive, once it fills up, will soon be cleared by WHS 2011 to start afresh with a full backup, whilst the second drive just bobs along with only ever a few GB to spare. They are both 1TB drives.

Good heavens - the second drive got cleared today. That's the first time ever. It now has 220GB free space. It must have overheard us talking about it...

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Hmm. Maybe related to the recent update rollup 2; if you installed it. Doubtful but is as good a guess as any. BTW I think I am back on track with the HDD's by letting WHS manage the swapping drives. Time will tell though.

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I've just read through this topic and I think my question relates to this.

I've recently setup a Server Backup with two 1TB disks, being swapped in and out of a single internal drive bay.

I've been using the same swapping protocol as Potomac describes. Today I reached the end of the first full iteration, i.e. disk #1 as backup target for a fortnight, swapped for disk #2, backups done (to disk #2) for the next fortnight up to today. Now I come to swap in disk #1 and WHS doesnot recognise it as an existing backup, but instead offers to treat it as a whole new backup target. WHS knows about disk #1 and disk #2 but they are BOTH listed as "offline".

I'm assuming that the both known disks being flagged as "offline" is symptomatic of the "hitting WHS 2011 over the head with a baseball bat" (good description Geoff) approach that I have been using to rotate the backups?

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@uatodrivel - when you say that you used the same swapping protocol as Potomac described, do you mean that when you pulled out disk #1 you used the "Remove the Hard Drive from Server Backup" task, and also used it when you pulled out disk #2 to reinsert disk #1?

If so, then that is the problem. You should not use that task when you swap disks. Just swap the disks.

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I'm using 2 alternate USB (#1 and #2) drives to back up my server. I don't use "Remove the Hard Drive from Server Backup", but I do use the Windows facility "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media". I've noticed that when I reconnect USB#1 after a period using and disconnecting USB#2, the server doesn't recognise USB#1. It does recognise that USB#1 contains server backups and allows me to retain them, and subsequently runs differential backups relative to what was on USB#1, but the server classifies the disk as "USB Device Disk #3".

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@majones - I wonder if the fact that you're using the "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media" facility is causing the reclassification issue? You shouldn't have to RDP into the WHS 2011 Desktop to use that facility. At least, that's how Microsoft has designed WHS 2011...

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You shouldn't have to RDP into the WHS 2011 Desktop to use that facility. At least, that's how Microsoft has designed WHS 2011...

As an aside, when I bought it I didn't realise that WHS2011 was designed to be run headless, and I incorporated a Belkin Switch2 to toggle KVM between PC and server. So, for me, access to my server at the Windows 7 level is a doddle.

Back to topic, I now realise that the WHS2011 default for USB disks is "Optimize for Quick Removal" so I should be able to simply unplug disks as and when I like without corrupting data, which as you say must have been Microsoft's design intent. I'll give this a try and advise whether the server then remembers the disks.

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I'm using 2 alternate USB (#1 and #2) drives to back up my server. I don't use "Remove the Hard Drive from Server Backup", but I do use the Windows facility "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media". I've noticed that when I reconnect USB#1 after a period using and disconnecting USB#2, the server doesn't recognise USB#1. It does recognise that USB#1 contains server backups and allows me to retain them, and subsequently runs differential backups relative to what was on USB#1, but the server classifies the disk as "USB Device Disk #3".

I've now discovered that WHS2011 server backup has to see all external disks when initially set-up, and it subsequently registers which are connected at the time of a backup and backs-up to one of them. My approach was to connect each external disk and to set-up a backup for it individually. But each set-up over-wrote the last. Not obvious from the available documentation.

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I'm venturing into the world of having more than one external USB drive connected to my WHS2011 box for the purpose of server backup.  I'm only backing up my system (C:) drive which has 33GB in use on an 80GB drive.  My two USB externals are also 80GB each.  With both connected they show as WHSBKUP1 and WHSBKUP2 as I've named them.  WHSBKUP1 is the drive I've been using all along and it is full, producing the WHS alert "free space is low in server backup".  Nothing new there.

 

What I'm wondering is how do I make use of the second drive WHSBKUP2?  Even manual server backups since adding the second drive are going to the WHSBKUP1 drive, and given that those test backups have been successful as always, it is clear that the oldest backups on WHSBKUP1 are still being deleted to make room for new ones.

 

Must I have only one "server backup" configured drive physically connected to the server at a time to guarantee which drive the backups get written to?  Is that the key to using more than drive?  I liked the idea of having two drives connected because my primary concern has always been drive failure more than anything else.  In this case am I better off just sticking to a single server backup drive?

 

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments on this.

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From Microsoft's FAQ on the subject:

 

 

Can backup spanned to several volumes?

The answer is No. We don’t support spanning.
Backup will report a failure if the first disk is full when multiple disks are selected as the backup destination. You will see an alert, as well as an error in the backup details,  that there is unsuccessful backup, with error “There is not enough space on the disk”.
IF you want to use other disks, you can manually switch to other disks on the list after the first one is full.
When muliple disks are selected for Server Backup, Backup will select the first drive in the list. When the first destination volume is full, you can unmount or unplug it;  In that case, Backups will “roll-over” to the next drive. The next backup will start using the next drive.
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That helps Geoff.

I've got two small drives configured as I mentioned.  So if pull the full one off the system it will start using the second.  Okay.  But after I start using the second one if I add the first drive back (even if I emptied it because it no longer had the most recent backups), the system would still not make use of it unless I turned drive2 off...  that's the key I guess I was missing before.  Have the full drive turned off to have WHS2011 start using the next drive.

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So that worked.  Just buy turning off the enclosure of Drive1, last night Drive2 was used.  When Drive2 is low on space I imagine I can turn it's enclosure off, turn on Drive1 and Drive1 will be used, but I'll have a low space message on Drive1 still.

What do I need to do with Drive1 to prevent the error?  If I format Drive1 before reusing it I'm wondering if WHS2011 will still recognize the drive as the same Backup Drive and label the backups created on it consistently as "WHSBKUP1" as I have named the drive.

 

What has you experience been with this specific situation Geoff?  Or am I better off just accepting that the low space message will be there and just toggle back and forth between my two drives from time to time.  I'm wondering if a hard drive dock would be useful in this situation for quickly (and easily) switching between many different hard drives for server backup.

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