Vol. 17, #16 - April 16, 2012 - Issue #875

Backup Blues Redux

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Backup Blues Redux
    • Backing up to very large USB drives
    • Backing up to external GPT drives
    • RAID controllers and restoring from backups
    • A home-grown backup solution
    • The time factor 
    • Send Us Feedback
    • Tip of the Week
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Quote of the Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. Webinars & Seminars
    • Conferences, Expos and Other Events
    • Upcoming Microsoft Webcasts
    • Upcoming O'Reilly Webcasts
    • VMware Webcasts
    • Cisco Events
    • Oracle Events
  4. Tech Briefing
    • 10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro
    • The Great Debate: Hyper-V or VMware?
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V certified in Germany  
    • Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1 CTP now available
  5. Windows Server News
    • Understanding VMware vCenter roles and permissions
    • Examining blade server options for Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Using OpenStack as the building block for a do-it-yourself cloud
    • What's slowing vSphere 5 upgrades?
  6. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff.
  7. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • Coming in April! Important Product Upgrade - Directory v3.3   

 

Coming in April! Important Product Upgrade - Directory v3.3  

Once again, our customers told us what would make rDirectory more efficient for them, so our newest product upgrade, rDirectory 3.3, is designed to simplify the user interface and provide additional functionality. You will be able to get instant results returned in your Active Directory searches just by typing in the first few letters of your search criteria. Dynamic picklists (in conjunction with joBot) will now be generated from configurable attribute values, and additional management functions will be available, such as the highly requested move object and rename object.

Contact us to learn more and ask for a demo.

 

Editor's Corner

Save this newsletter so you can refer back to itand find helpful tips, tools and other resources that can help you when you face some planning decision, management task or troubleshooting headache!

Backup Blues Redux 

We received a ton of good feedback from readers for our March 26 issue Backup Blues so we thought we'd revisit the subject in this issue by sharing some of the feedback.   

Backing up to very large USB drives

In the previous newsletter on this subject, I reported the following:

For example, a colleague reported that he purchased a 3 TB USB 3.0 external hard drive which he connected to a USB 3.0 PCIO3 card he installed in his Windows 7 computer. He intended using the external drive for backing up his computer, but when he tried using the in-box Windows Backup utility to do this, he got an error saying "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error." He could however use the vendor's own backup software which was included on the drive. He just couldn't use the in-box Windows Backup utility with the drive. Watch out for this. As long as the external drive is 2 TB or less you should be OK...

A helpful reader named Gene responded with some extra caution concerning performing backups to very large USB drives:

I replaced two 2TB drives with two 3TB Seagate drives. These were placed into an external enclosure and used for backups. I was unable to get eSata to work on the Dell Server (apparently a known problem with Dell PowerEdge units...... but not known to me beforehand). So, I used USB 2. I could not get them formatted on Server 2008 (SP2). I could not format them on Windows 7 as external drives even with the Seagate setup software as this software requires seeing the actual drive manufacturer info. I had to connect them directly and format.

Then, I could use them on Server 2008. But after a few weeks, the MFT became corrupted. Each drive suffered this fate and it happened three times on each drive. The special software provided by Seagate will not run on Server platform but Server 2008 is supposed to support large size GPT partitions natively. I ended up hosting them, via external eSata, on a Windows 7 box. This seems to work and seems stable.

Backing up to external GPT drives

Another reader named Steve described a scenario where backing up to an external drive formatted as GPT could cause data loss:

I just read your windows backup article.  My concern with your article is potential data damage on the external hard drive.

If the external drive is formatted as a GPT drive instead of as an MBR drive, I have seen instances where Windows XP SP3 will destroy the data on the drive when it is mounted.  This is very nasty if you are backing up Windows 7 and Windows XP to the same external drive.  There is a potential for data loss.  Also, there are sector alignment issues if the partition is formatted by Windows XP vs Windows 7 on the new large sector drives.  At least some of the newer drives come with a utility to realign partitions if you are using them with Windows XP.  It seems XP numbered and placed sectors at a different offset than later operating systems.

In order to avoid these drive migration issues? I backup XP to an older smaller drive and then transfer the backup to the new larger sector drive with a file copy under Windows 7.  This keeps all of my backups on the same drive in the rotation.  Windows 7 knows how to handle the newer drives.  Anyone who has a machine that runs Windows 7 and Windows XP in a dual-boot configuration should take great care with the newer large format drives!  Forget once which operating system is booting and the external hard drive is data damaged.

RAID controllers and restoring from backups

Welmoed from the Netherlands suggests you need to consider your storage controller to make sure you can restore from your backups:

I'm missing one issue in your list: That's when one has a (server) system using a hardware vendor controller (eg LSI PCI RAID controllers).  If the controller fails and can't be replaced, all of your backups are useless (eg SCSI).  Most often newer versions of alike controllers can't handle backups made with previous versions of the manufacturer's controllers.

Incompatibility issues even arise within the same version of backup software when the vendor releases updates/upgrades. BrightStor Backup is one of those backup software packages that need the latest version installed on the computer or you won't get the latest backup onto your system.

It's not uncommon that smaller companies use their server for a much longer period of time as hardware and software vendors expect and like.  In such a case you must hope and pray that you can dig up an alike controller to get at least the important data off of the hard drive.  If not, you're totally lost and your company most likely will be too.

When I asked him if he had any additional comments concerning this issue, he added:

I also have found that SATA RAID controllers (for desktops) like Intel, Promise are also not interchangeable.  In my case it occurred with RAID 1 exchanging an on board Intel RAID chipset for a RAID adapter by Promise.  I found a system using Intel (ROM based) software RAID can't be accessed by a Promise (soft) RAID controller.  I haven't dug that deep, but based on my SCSI experiences I presume the way the RAID software formats the hard drive causes these incompatibilities.  In a SATA RAID configuration that's however contrary to what manufacturers claim.

A home-grown backup solution

Alain from South Africa shared the backup solution he crafted for his company using some free tools:

We have a really interesting scenario for you:

We have a multi-redundant backup scenario:

This regime sounds complex, but really isn't. Almost all our data is duplicated on a daily basis to both onsite and offsite locations (some redundantly as well). The only shortcoming we have is the personal data of staff who use desktops and the data of a person's laptop when travelling for the period that they are either away from home or the office.  This works, and is pretty simple to set up.

When I asked him why he doesn't use Folder Redirection with Offline files so his desktop users won't have to open files directly from the file server, he replied as follows:

We don't use Active Directory, so that functionality is not available. The desktop users are mostly working on CAD files, which are opened directly off the server, using a mapped shared directory. This works fine, since there are only about 5 desktops.

There are plenty of good synchronizing/backup tools ? there is also one we used to use called Folder Clone / Folder Match, however the free Synchback does the job with many more options.

The one area that we have a challenge with is our Outlook PST files. For example, mine is heading towards 12 Gb at the moment! Much of that is old, but gets referenced on quite a regular basis, so archiving is not the best solution. I have been looking to find options where the PST file can be synchronized the same as other files (on a block level) so that the entire file does not need to be copied each time. Not really found anything that I can say is working yet!

See the Admin Tools section for links to some of the tools Alain has mentioned.

The time factor

Finally, a reader named Dave brought up the issue of how long it can take to perform backups of large amounts of data.  This time factor is definitely something that even small organizations are starting to worry about as users work more and more with very large files like video files as Dave explains:

I'm interested in knowing how large organizations do their business backups, i.e., those with many terabytes and even petabytes of data, within the normal 12 hour timeframe (i.e., during the night). There must come a point where there is too much 'daily' data to be backed up given the timeframe available... depending on the speed of hardware and network that is available.

Our small organization has a slow network and we only have around 500 gig of data. It takes a good eight hours to back it all up on to two "backup" servers off site.

Interestingly I was talking to a fellow mate who runs a DVD imaging business who runs around 150 terabytes of "daily" imaging DVD data that needs backing up nightly. Tape drives were given the boot in January due to them taking too long to backup data over the business shutdown period overnight. Put in place were mega dollar terabyte drive array units and backups go to these, and he was saying that even this was taking heaps of time - only just finishing before the business opens up in the morning.

How does Microsoft, Google and other large net organizations continuously backup their data? 

I'm just wondering what is going to happen with small organizations in the future who have mass amount of data, can't afford continuous live data backups, and there is not the timeframe available for offline backups to occur, given that the hardware used does not increase in speed.  Just something to ponder.

It's certain that Microsoft is one example of a large enterprise that must have seriously huge amounts of data to back up each night.  How do they do it?  They utilize one of their own products System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) as described in this section of "How Microsoft Does IT" on TechNet:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334566537247

If you watch the video and read some of the papers on this page you might find that DPM might be a cost-effective solution for your own organization's backup needs.  Of course, I still prefer low-tech solutions so I just make manual copy backups of all my work files onto five and a quarter inch floppy disks and store them in my dresser under my socks...heh.

Send Us Feedback

Any more recommendations about making backups?  Any horror stories concerning restores you want to warn others about?  How do you handle the problem of making sure tons of data gets backed up in a reasonable timeframe?  Send your feedback on these matters to us at [email protected] .

Tip of the Week

Tired of looking at your computer monitor all the time?  Wouldn't you like to just close your eyes sometimes and let your computer read stuff to you?

Check out the text-to-speech feature called Speak, which is built into Microsoft Office Word 2010, Outlook 2010, PowerPoint 2010 and OneNote 2010.  For information on how to add this feature to the Quick Access Toolbar for convience, see here:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334566931577

Try Speak now by getting your computer to say the following to you:

Affirmative, Dave. I read you...

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that...

I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do...

This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it...

I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen...

Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move...

Without your space helmet, Dave? You're going to find that rather difficult...

Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Recommended for Learning

Some titles from O'Reilly Media for you this week.  They're not specifically IT stuff but they might stimulate your brain a bit if you read them.

The Information Diet examines the issue of information load in today's society and provides some guidance on how you can make yourself more data-literate, maintain attentiveness amid chaos, and keep your sense of humor alive and functioning amid the flood of emails, tweets, feeds and status updates we all experience in the IT profession:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334567295060

Running Lean is good to read before contemplating pursuing your own startup.  The book provides guidance on how to develop products that fit with market needs while keeping as much of your life and time under control as possible.  Even if you're an independent IT consultant you may find some of the advice in this book helpful:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334567309992

Think Complexity is intended for stimulating the minds of Python geeks by showing them a window into the wonders of complexity science.  It covers everything from Stephen Wolfram to Pink Noise to Fast Fourier Transforms and more:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334567323143

Which reminds me of that classic XKCD comic about what happens when you accidentally apply a Fourier transform to your cat:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334567357177

Quote of the Week

"Money does not grow on trees, it grows in our minds.  How much you should get paid is not controlled by your boss or your customers, it is controlled by you.  In the depths of your own mind, where you are really honest with yourself, you have already decided how much you are worth to others.  If you think you are worth fifteen dollars an hour, then you cannot get a job that pays five hundred dollars an hour because your mind is incapable of producing that mental picture."  --Chin-Ning Chu in "Do Less, Achieve More"
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334567694139

Though it sounds New Agey and I wish it wasn't true, Chin-Ning Chu is right on the money here.  To be successful in any kind of business including the IT business, you need to know what you're worth.  The only way you can discover that is by taking risks, which means asking for more instead of accepting what's offered.  If you get turned down, then reality has shown you what you're probably worth.  But if they bend to your request and give you what you've asked for, you're likely worth more than you previously thought you were.  The more risks you take, the more your potential there is for your worth to grow and your business to thrive.

Save this newsletter so you can refer back to it later for tips, tools and other resources you might need to do your job or troubleshoot some problem you're dealing with.

Forward this newsletter to a friend or colleague who might find the tips and tools in it helpful for performing their job.

Send us feedback if you have questions, comments or suggestions concerning anything in this newsletter: [email protected]

Cheers!
Mitch Tulloch

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

mPowerTools ? an AD admin essential! 200+ reports, bulk import/export, scheduling, and GPO/File Share reports. Eliminate scripting! ONLY $1,400!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334568662011

Using Microsoft Hyper-V ? Altaro Hyper-V Backup Freeware Edition is an easy to use Hyper-V aware backup solution. Watch YouTube Video.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334568593147

The Expert Guide to VMware Data Protection Chapter 4 by Eric Siebert
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334568512819

Download a free, fully functioning 30-day trial of Patch Manager from SolarWinds and get visibility into patch compliance with an extensive collection of simple, built-in reports.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334568442034

Free StealthTOOLS solve the SharePoint versioning dilemma and powerful Regex Engine for DLP.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334568348212

Back up and synchronize your files with power, ease and flexibility:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334568225666

 

Webinars & Seminars

Conferences, Expos and Other Events

July 8-12, 2012 - Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Canada is the premier event for Microsoft partners to spark connections, deliver insight, and build business. Learn about the latest Microsoft programs, strategies, and cutting-edge technologies, while meeting Microsoft staff and other partners from around the world:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569233460

Upcoming Microsoft Events and Webcasts

Sign up for these and other Microsoft events and webcasts at:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569409172

Upcoming O'Reilly Webcasts

Sign up these and other O'Reilly webcasts at:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569552648

VMware Webcasts

Browse for VMware webcasts at:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569613842

Cisco Events

Browse the Cisco Corporate Events Calendar to find Cisco at events, trade shows and conferences around the world:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569663635

Oracle Events

Browse the Oracle Events page to find in-person events and live webcasts for your location:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569710242

Would you like to list your IT event, webcast, or seminar in this section? Contact Michael Vella, the WSN Account Manager at [email protected]

 

Tech Briefing

10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro

Randy Muller of Global Knowledge talks about the pitfalls that can await you in the IT field: 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569891359

The Great Debate: Hyper-V or VMware?

Watch the sparks fly as ZDNet throws their hat into the ring on this contentious issue:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334569986915

Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V certified in Germany

Aidan Finn reports that Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V has just achieved EAL 4+ security certification from the Federal Office for Information Security in Germany: 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334570078161

Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1 CTP now available

The pre-beta release of the Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Service Pack 1 for System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 brings compatibility with Windows Server 8:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334570133733

 

Windows Server News

Understanding VMware vCenter roles and permissions

Using VMware vCenter roles and permissions to secure a virtual environment allows administrators to set detailed privileges for users that need access to specific settings. These restrictions allow admins to better manage their environment and improve vSphere security by preventing users from making unwanted changes. Learn more about vCenter roles and permissions in this exclusive article.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585138671

Examining blade server options for Windows Server 2008 R2

Blade servers have cooled off as a category, but they still represent an impor¬tant alternative for many cost-conscious IT shops. Most conversations on this topic start with whether to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 in a blade chassis or go with a cluster of rackmount systems. The answer: There is no single answer.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585228892

Using OpenStack as the building block for a do-it-yourself cloud

While building a private cloud on open source software may not be for all companies, OpenStack has features that make it worth it to develop in-house. Find out more in this popular piece of content. 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585344115

What's slowing vSphere 5 upgrades?

As is typical with many software updates that follow a stable product, there are still a lot of VMware customers delaying the upgrade to vSphere 5. In many cases, it's just a matter of customers waiting to see how the new product shapes up. Better to let others run the gauntlet and then stroll in quietly after the bugs have been worked out, right? Users may be more wary of bugs today, but, in the case of vSphere 5, the delay may have as much to do with the lack of a major feature or driving need to make the switch. 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585446180

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

A most hilarious and amazing mime at the "Greatest Cabaret in the World" in Paris:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585847896

An awesome paragliding acrobatic video of two paragliders in sync:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585890366

The face of Britney Spears from baby to 30 in a fascinating 'morph' video:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585932852

American Idol contestant Jessica Sanchez most amazing performance of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You":
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334585980682

"Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again?" from the British sitcom 'The IT Crowd':
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1334586027090

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Coming in April! Important Product Upgrade - Directory v3.3  

Once again, our customers told us what would make rDirectory more efficient for them, so our newest product upgrade, rDirectory 3.3, is designed to simplify the user interface and provide additional functionality. You will be able to get instant results returned in your Active Directory searches just by typing in the first few letters of your search criteria. Dynamic picklists (in conjunction with joBot) will now be generated from configurable attribute values, and additional management functions will be available, such as the highly requested move object and rename object.

Contact us to learn more and ask for a demo.

 

WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.