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Latest From The Blog

Backups and Recovery Point Objectives

By | Wednesday, May 11th, 2016|Categories: My Work, VEEAM|Tags: , , , |

After a doing some work recently for a client creating a suitable off-site backup solution, I have learnt a valuable lesson that many clients may find quite interesting, particularly if this was a real life disaster situation.

As we all know, backups are a critical part of every organisations IT strategy, but how many organisations are truly aware of what their recovery point objective really is?

We all sleep easily at night, knowing that our critical systems and data are protected because they are being securely backed up, by whatever means we may have chosen to perform that service.

Let me now ask you, how many of you have actually tested your backup strategy by actually restoring your systems to a completely new environment?

The reason that I ask you this is because, any IT department will be acutely aware of the rapid growth that we have all seen in the amount of data that we are now expected to store, retain and equally importantly, backup.

I had occasion recently to perform a bare metal restore of what in the grand scheme of things was a relatively small clients entire operating environment consisting of a Windows 2008 Small Business Server with a total of 1.3TB of data and an additional Microsoft SQL Server with approx 600Gb of data.

I can hear you all thinking, less than 2TB of data, that’s not horrendous, and I would be the first to agree with you.

Well, this particular client runs a virtualised VMware infrastructure using VEEAM to backup to a QNAP NAS device, which offers them 8TB of low performance, but, cost effective storage space for their backups.

Our proposal was to offer the client, in addition to their nightly VEEAM backups to their QNAP NAS the additional ability to replicate their systems over the Internet using VEEAM Backup and Replication, Enterprise Plus Edition, utilising the built in WAN Accelerator technology to an off-site datacenter. A logical and sensible approach I hear you say. So let’s move on to putting this into practice.

The first part of creating a replicated off-site backup solution is to create a “seed” of the existing systems, and the easiest and fastest way of getting the initial “seed” is to restore the most recent backup to the replication host, which in this case was located in a hosted datacenter.

With VEEAM, this is a relatively painless and simple process, and it was decided that in order to reduce the load on the clients network and Internet bandwidth, a suitable copy of the clients backup would be transported to the off-site datacenter and restored directly to the replication servers. This is where it became apparent that the bare metal restore process, although simple and easy to do, can, even when your data footprint is relatively small, take a considerable amount of time.

 Would you be surprised to learn that the restore of the 1.3TB Windows 2008 Small Business Server took a total of 39.5hrs?

…and then the SQL Server took 9 hours, comparatively a considerably smaller amount of time, but considerable nonetheless.

OK, if this was a disaster recovery situation, the clients systems would have been restored and in the most part operational within 48 hours, which for some clients may be seen as an acceptable risk, but from my experience even the smallest client can become quite frustrated when they lose access to something as innocuous as email for as little as 30 – 60 minutes, so in all honesty, can you really say that a 48 hour recover point objective is acceptable?

Well, let me continue with the job at hand, which just to remind you was to create a replicated environment for our client.

After the successful completion of the “seed” replica, it was a matter of configuring and running the actual VEEAM Replication Job, which after initial “Seed” must first calculate a digest of the installed disk and then a consequent creation of the “fingerprints” for that disk, which will aid the system in the deduplication and compression of the consequent data that will be transmitted across the WAN. Once again, dependent on the size and quantity of disks that the replicated system contains, this part of the process is also somewhat lengthy.

In the case of the Microsoft SQL Server this initial replication process took 19 hours and for the Microsoft SBS 2008 Small Business Server a staggering further 30.5hrs to complete successfully.

Once the initial replicas have been created, the time required to keep them up to date is drastically reduced, dependent on the schedule you wish to apply, which can be continuous, daily, weekly or pretty much any period you chose, although my recommendation would at the very least, be to perform this daily.

Creating and maintaining an off-site replica, although a time consuming process, and one that appears tedious, may however, one day, in the event of a disaster, provide you with the ability to get your systems up and running again in a very short space of time. Once those replica’s are in place and that unexpected disaster occurs it is simply a case of running up those replicas to their latest restore point and your systems will be back up and running in the space of time it take to run up those replica VM’s.

I think the most important point that anyone should take away from this exercise, is that unless you actually test your backups or replicas at regular intervals, you will never know what your TRUE recovery point is. Wouldn’t it be better to know NOW and not have to wait until the day you REALLY need them.

VEEAM Availability 9.0 – Microsoft Hyper-V VSS Writer failed

By | Thursday, February 18th, 2016|Categories: My Work, VEEAM|

Recently when installing Veeam Availability Suite 9.0 into a clients site with Cluster Hyper-V, we ran into a problem that took us a little time to resolve.

In the spirit of sharing knowledge, I thought I would share our findings in the hope that it will assist someone else that may experience this issue.

We had attached some iSCSI storage to the Hyper-V cluster and configured this using the Failover Cluster Manager confirming that we could read and write to the storage with no apparent issues.

We then created a number of test backup jobs within VEEAM and attempted to perform an Application aware backup and we were presented with the following error:

Writer ‘Microsoft Hyper-V VSS Writer’ is failed at ‘VSS_WS_FAILED_AT_PREPARE_SNAPSHOT’


Further investigation did not turn up any useful information and a Support Case was logged with VEEAM who requested logs from the Hyper-V Servers and VEEAM Server, and these resulted in VEEAM Support pointing us to the following errors:

  • A VSS writer has rejected an event with error 0x800423f4, The writer experienced a non-transient error.  If the backup process is retried, the error is likely to reoccur.
    . Changes that the writer made to the writer components while handling the event will not be available to the requester. Check the event log for related events from the application hosting the VSS writer.Operation:
    PrepareForSnapshot Event

Execution Context: Writer
Writer Class Id: {66841cd4-6ded-4f4b-8f17-fd23f8ddc3de}
Writer Name: Microsoft Hyper-V VSS Writer
Writer Instance ID: {c2f0023d-eb41-4181-8c5e-52e873d61825}
Command Line: C:\Windows\system32\vmms.exe
Process ID: 4108

Timeout waiting for iSCSI persistently bound volumes. If there are any services or applications that use information stored on these volumes then they may not start or may report errors.

Status 0x00001069 determining that device interface \\?\{8e7bd593-6e6c-4c52-86a6-77175494dd8e}#MsVhdHba#1&3030e83&0&01#{2accfe60-c130-11d2-b082-00a0c91efb8b}does not support iSCSI WMI interfaces. If this device is not an iSCSI HBA then this error can be ignored.

I would ask you, first of all, restart the service Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management on the host HV-1-2. If after that the backup job fails, please reboot the HV-1-2 host.

Could you also specify if you have disks which connected via iSCSI?

Nothing that was suggested gave us any true indication as to the problem, because iSCSI seemed to be reading a writing fine, leading us to believe that there was not any problem with the iSCSI side of things.

We then decided to try to create a Checkpoint (Microsoft’s new name for Snapshot) from within the Hyper-V Manager and to our surprise this also failed with the following error:

“cannot create the storage required for the checkpoint using disk general access denied error(0x80070005)”

A search for this error, lead us to a Veritas Support Article that indicated that VHDX files should not be located in the root of the CSV (Cluster Shared Volume)

Upon further inspection we discovered that the VEEAM Repository Disks that we had created were in fact located in the root of the iSCSI CSV and it was then a simple process of shutting down the VEEAM Server and relocating the VHDX files into a suitable sub-directory as follows:


Then it was a simple case of updating the VM settings with the new disk locations.

We then restarted the VEEAM Server and lo and behold, we were able to create a Checkpoint within Hyper-V and the VEEAM backups also worked fine.


Day 9: 21st September 2014 – Emmitsburg, MD – Washington DC

By | Monday, July 6th, 2015|Categories: USA Holiday 2014|

Up bright and early again, seems to be par for the course during this holiday, pack the bags and pack them back in the car. A quick eat and run breakfast of ready oats, pancakes and muffins and some tea and coffee, before we hit the road to Gettysburg, PA. Of course you all know…

The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the American Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion”, Gettysburg was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal “Gettysburg Address”.

Rather than the actual town of Gettysburg, PA, It is the Gettysburg National Military Park that attracts the incredible amount of tourists and visitors every year. It was at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA that Abraham Lincoln gave the world, what is probably the most famous speech in American history.

The speech itself was given on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, the famous words have been memorialised on a plaque and posted for posterity on the memorial in the Gettysburg National Military Park, for all to read, the same words can also be found at the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg and also at The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Due to their power and familiarity to the American people, I am sure that they can be found at many other locations too…

The sheer quantity of memorials that can be seen and visited are too numerous to show and mention here, but if you are interested in the American Civil War, then a visit to the Gettysburg area in Pennsylvania should most  definitely be on your agenda.

We could not leave without visiting the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, so this was the next point of call on our whistlestop tour of the area.

The Soldiers’ National Cemetery is the place where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous “Gettysburg Address” and the final resting place of more than 3,500 Union soldiers who were killed during the Battle of Gettysburg.

The cemetery is also the home of the Lincoln Monument, which was undergoing renovation during our visit, so unfortunately we were unable to get any photographs of that particular monument, but there were many more to visit. The walk through the cemetery proved to be a very moving experience.

After a quick drive through Gettysburg itself, it was time for us to head for our next destination. Washington, DC, one of the highlights of our USA road trip, where we would be spending the next 3 nights, giving us a much needed break from all of the driving we had done to date.

The drive was pretty uneventful, although the traffic did increase as we approached Washington, DC, it was not as horrendous as I had been expecting and we were at our hotel, The Days Inn, Connecticut Avenue, Washington, DC by 4.00pm and quickly settled into our room, before we went out for some dinner, which we found at the Westfield Wheaton Mall in the form of a Chinese Takeaway Buffet in the food hall, and it was altogether scrumptious.

After our food we headed back into Washington for our first look at the sights (which we will not spoil too much today) and then it was back to the room for some rest before our strenuous couple of days playing tourist in Washington, DC.

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