Posts Tagged ‘ShadowProtect’

StorageCraft ImageManager multiple errors on processing

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I’m running StorageCraft ShadowControl ImageManager on one of my Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials servers as it acts as the host for all my ShadowProtect backups.  Sometime this week, my ImageManager started to log two errors when it did it’s daily processing.

Process folder exception: Unable to synchronize with directory contents

Sync exception: SyncFiles database read error

And in the daily summary report it gave me this error on one of the machines only – all other machines managed by this ImageManager were working just fine.

Unable to summarize activity for I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQWEB1

I did some digging into this and found that someone else has had this issue before.  They found it occurred after an unscheduled restart of their ImageManager server.

I decided to investigate further and found my ImageManager.log file in the “C:\Program Files (x86)\StorageCraft\ImageManager\Logs” path.  In this log I found the following information which correlated to the alert emails I received.


07-Mar-2012 20:09:25 Initialized Remoting with secure TCP channel.
07-Mar-2012 20:09:26 Could not find file ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\StorageCraft\ImageManager\ImageManager.lic’.
07-Mar-2012 20:09:35 Watch threads started
07-Mar-2012 20:11:32 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQWEB1

Sync exception: SyncFiles database read error

08-Mar-2012 04:00:00 Queue processing
08-Mar-2012 04:00:00 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQWEB1

Sync exception: SyncFiles database read error

08-Mar-2012 04:00:00 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQWEB1

Process folder exception: Unable to synchronize with directory contents

08-Mar-2012 04:01:11 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQSVR1\F_VOL-b001-i9949-cd.spi
08-Mar-2012 04:02:04 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQSVR1\E_VOL-b001-i9951-cd.spi
08-Mar-2012 04:17:29 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQSVR1\C_VOL-b001-i9949-cd.spi
08-Mar-2012 04:17:52 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\ML350G5\C_VOL-b002-i351-cd.spi
08-Mar-2012 04:20:15 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQNB03\C_VOL-b005-i690-cd.spi
08-Mar-2012 04:20:38 I:\ServerFolders\SPBackups\SBSFAQTSV1\C_VOL-b001-i896-cd.spi

You’ll note above that the log starts at 20:09 on March 7th – it turns out that there was an unscheduled reboot of the server at that time – no idea why but will investigate that separately.  What I need right now is get things working so that SBSFAQWEB1 will be being managed correctly once more.

In ImageManager, the settings for the managed folders are stored within the registry.  The information about the consolidation status, replication status etc. is stored within an access database called ImageManager.mdb and it’s located in the “C:\Program Files (x86)\StorageCraft\ImageManager” folder.  I found elsewhere that someone else had this issue, so thought that it might work for me.  I checked with StorageCraft support here in Australia and Melissa agreed that this was the right course of action to follow.  Here’s what I did.

  1. Stop the ShadowControl ImageManager service
  2. Delete the ImageManager.mdb
  3. Start the ShadowControl ImageManager service once more.

When the service starts, it creates a fresh ImageManager.mdb database and starts the process of reviewing the files present and updating the status of them.  After it’s created the new database, it begins it’s daily processing and verification tasks once again.  Give it 15 minutes or so to process and it was showing green ticks across the board for all my managed folders.

Thanks Mel for confirming the course of action is good.  Glad it worked!

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StorageCraft and Kaseya working together

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Well the leap year is a time for all kinds of strange things happening.  Women can propose marriage to men is just one example.  Today is no exception (I’m in the US still so it’s still Feb 29th).

StorageCraft and Kaseya have today announced a new partnership that will see the backup technology that Kaseya previously used being replaced by StorageCraft ShadowProtect.  Personally – this is a great step forward as we’ve used StorageCraft for many years now with great success.  This means it’s now even easier for us to provide great disaster recovery capabilities to our client on a monthly billing basis.

Check out the press release here

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Posted in Blog | 1 Comment »

StorageCraft and Kaseya working together

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Well the leap year is a time for all kinds of strange things happening.  Women can propose marriage to men is just one example.  Today is no exception (I’m in the US still so it’s still Feb 29th).

StorageCraft and Kaseya have today announced a new partnership that will see the backup technology that Kaseya previously used being replaced by StorageCraft ShadowProtect.  Personally – this is a great step forward as we’ve used StorageCraft for many years now with great success.  This means it’s now even easier for us to provide great disaster recovery capabilities to our client on a monthly billing basis.

Check out the press release here

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How can I re-register my StorageCraft VSS Provider?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Recently while troubleshooting a system for a client, I ran across the situation where the StorageCraft VSS Snapshot provider disappeared.

When you ran the vssadmin list providers command, you only got the list below.


I then decided to see if the service was present by running the services console and it was not even listed.  That’s right the StorageCraft Shadow Copy Provider was not present in the list of available services.

The fix was pretty simple. Re-run setup again on the ShadowProtect installer and select the Repair option.  Reboot once it was done and voila… it’s back as you can see below.


Not sure why it disappeared in the first place, but it’s back now and the system is running far more reliably than before.

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Posted in FAQs | 38 Comments »

ShadowProtect – Best Options for MBR and Track Zero

Friday, October 28th, 2011

When you restore a ShadowProtect image to a new computer, there is often confusion about the right settings to chose for the boot partition.  Jack Alsop from StorageCraft here in Australia recommends the following options.

Restore MBR is needed – and Jack recommends you restore an Original Windows MBR unless the disk subsystems is 100% identical to avoid issues.

Restore Disk Signature is needed for a few reasons… the primary one being that if you want the ShadowProtect jobs to continue to run without needing to do a new base image then you want to ensure that you Restore Disk Signature. In addition to that some software uses the disk signature for copy protection and it might need to be reactivated.

Restore Disk Hidden Track is also recommended as again some software stores information on this track for copy protection. Without restoring this you might run into issues with activation of third party software.



Hope this helps. Smile

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How can I reactivate my ShadowProtect IT Edition License?

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

ShadowProtect IT Edition comes on a USB key now for some time.  As part of the way to control licensing, StorageCraft require you to reactivate it every 90 days.  That way if you lose your key, they can invalidate your license and give you a new one knowing that whoever finds your key can’t use it for more than 90 days.

Here’s how to reactivate your ShadowProtect IT Edition License server

  1. If your USB stick has the write protect switch on it then move it to unprotected.
  2. Plug the USB stick into the computer and then navigate to the H:\Programs\LicenseServer folder
  3. Run the LicenseServer.exe program and you should get the dialog box below if it is expired.SNAG-0025
  4. Select the Update button and then if your subscription is still valid you will get the box below.SNAG-0026
  5. Close the LicenseServer program and eject your USB stick from the computer.
  6. If you have one of the write protect USB dongles then be sure to move the switch back to protected mode.

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Posted in FAQs | 31 Comments »

Toshiba R600 vs Porsche 911 Carrera… Toshiba lost.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

No – this is not a test to see how fast a Toshiba can reboot vs a Porsche 911, but a story from Jeff Wilson from VelocIT Business Systems and a member of the SMB IT Professionals organisation in Australia.  Jeff tells the story of an urgent call he had from a customer over a weekend where the customer needed him to look at something urgently – ie before Monday.  Being a customer focused professional, of course Jeff went to help out.  When he got there he found that the client has “accidentally” run his Porsche 911 over the laptop… see the pictures below!

photo 1

The screen still opened up

photo 3

And of course – compare the good with the bad.

photo 2

What is interesting from this is that the hard drive on these is stored under the keyboard palm rest area and it appears that this was not harmed – therefore the users data was still safe.  The laptop though was of course totally dead.  Jeff moved the hard drive over to the spare that the customer had and got them running quickly.

Now – aside from being some funny pictures of a laptop accident – it brings a few other thoughts to mind.

What are you doing for backups of your users mobile devices?  Are you backing up the entire laptop and if so, how often and using what software?

Personally I’m using Trend Micro SafeSync on my laptop to sync all the user changed data – word documents, Excel, PowerPoint and the like up to the cloud and then from the cloud, down to my desktop PC in the office.  This ensures that my user data is safe and sound.

In terms of the laptops operating system and applications, I’m using ShadowProtect to backup to a USB hard drive while I travel, or to my NAS in the office.  I’m also using the Client PC Backup technology from Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials to do a backup of the laptops while in the office as a 2nd approach.

What do you do?

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And they say that Tape Backups are dead…

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

There’s a lot of news in the media at the moment about massive system hacks by a number of rogue hacker groups.  One of the local ones recently has been domain registrar DistributeIT based here in Australia.  Their systems were not only hacked, but totally and utterly destroyed by the hackers.  The most recent news article on this has DistributeIT talking about how even there backups were erased.  And based on that we can assume a few things.

  1. Is that they ONLY had image based backups of their systems that were stored online.
  2. They did nothing to protect the image backups or provide for the scenario that their image backups would become compromised.
  3. They did not have any form of offline backup of their systems – not even a week old backup that could have helped them recover.

No don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying they got what they deserved.  No one deserves to have their business decimated in the way that I’m sure DistributeIT is right now.  But they did not fully consider the potential ramifications that could happen should a deep compromise of their systems occur.

Now personally I’ve used image based backup products like StorageCraft for quite some time and I love them.  I also use products that work specifically with tape such as BackupAssist as well.  However if you are to use an image based product alone here, then you need to consider what would happen in the event that your backups are erased.  How can you prevent that from occurring?  If you have some form of replication to replicate the data offsite, then that replication is also potentially likely to replicate the deletion (depending on how you have it configured).  Particular attention needs to be paid here and this is where some form off offline backup comes into play.  Be it tapes or offline hard drives, you need to ensure that you have a way that will prevent hackers from getting in overnight and killing your business.

Why tapes I hear you ask?  How’s this for a few reasons to start with…

  1. Tapes are pretty much “hacker proof” because you can’t just erase or format a tape.  That can only be done via the tape backup software and if you don’t have an autoloader then there is only one tape in the drive at a time – therefore limiting the potential damage a hacker could do
  2. Compared to disk – you can have all your backups on a single disk/NAS/SAN and they can be lost or corrupted with a single erase operation.  Heck – look at my recent experiences here where I had corruption of the data yet the disks were “ok”.
  3. Viruses can infect a disk and corrupt existing backups – but they can’t infect tapes.

If you were to change your offline media on a daily basis then you limit what they can do to your business?  What are you doing to prevent this for yourself and customers?

So – I ask you – is Tape really dead?  If you are thinking more about this then check out BackupAssist as an option as they can support tape on versions of Windows that don’t have native tape support which is basically everything from Windows Server 2008 or SBS 2008 onwards.

Nope – for me – I’m seriously revisiting how my backup strategies are maintained and am looking to develop some new ideas and practices around this.

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Why is Circular Logging enabled on Exchange on SBS 2011 Standard?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

A few people have noticed that Exchange 2010 on SBS 2011 Standard edition, has Circular Logging enabled by default on the Exchange Databases.  They’ve wondered why this is happening.

First up a history lesson.  In SBS 2003, Exchange 2003 was configured by default to have Circular Logging disabled.  This is great from a recovery perspective as it allows the Exchange database to keep log files of the email changes to the database and then later replay those log files into the last backed up copy of your database.  When the inbuilt SBS 2003 Backup program ran, it would backup the log files and clear them down to zero once more.  The only problem is that many users who configured their Exchange 2003 servers NEVER configured a backup.  This then leads to the Exchange Log files which were located on the C: drive by default, to fill up the disk space and cause the server to crash due to low disk space on the Operating System partition.

When the SBS team were designing SBS 2008, they took this into account.  The decided based on community feedback and user ineptness, that they would have Circular Logging enabled by default.  This meant that the Exchange database log files would not fill up the disk space like it did with SBS 2003.  This same design thought was carried through for SBS 2010 Standard edition and is what you see today.  This does however limit your recovery options for a corrupt Exchange Database.

What happens is that if you run the SBS 2008 or SBS 2011 Standard backup wizards, it disables circular logging so that you can have a better chance of recovery of a corrupt mail database.  If you are using other third party backup products such as StorageCraft ShadowProtect or BackupAssist, then you will want to manually go into the Exchange System Manager console and disable circular logging yourself.

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How can I avoid large incremental backups with Trend Micro WFBS and StorageCraft ShadowProtect ?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

In Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security 6.0 and higher, Trend have implemented new technology that reduces the size of pattern files distributed to the client machines.  This combined with other architecture changes means that there is quite a lot of disk activity and change at certain times during the day.  The disk activity is really a reorganisation of the pattern files and the database itself and is not actually an increase in the amount of data being stored.  In itself this is not a problem because a backup taken once a day with your favourite backup program will only record the differences between that point in time and the last backup which is fairly small.  However if you backup more often than that you might run into a problem with having very large incremental backups.  This article talks about why that happens and shows how to avoid it.

Any image based backup software such as SBS 2008/SBS2011 inbuilt backup, or third party backup programs such as StorageCraft ShadowProtect have the ability to backup very fast and multiple times a day – as much as every 15 minutes in the case of ShadowProtect.  This is great from a disaster recovery perspective as it allows you to minimise the data lost due to a system failure to a very small time window.  The way these work is to take a base image one time only and then take some form of incremental backup from that point forward.  Windows / SBS Backup automatically consolidates these into it’s backup file which is a VHD.  ShadowProtect takes these as incrementals and then ImageManager consolidates these based on various settings.

Now if we look at one of the features of StorageCraft ImageManager called replication – this replication feature allows the incremental images to be sent over a LAN/WAN to another server or via FTP to a remote server.  This is a cool feature because it means as soon as an incremental image is created, it can be shipped offsite quickly and efficiently.  This however relies on the incrementals being able to be small enough that they can be pushed out quickly to the remote location.  Factors such as limited internet bandwidth really come into play here.

Ok – let’s tie this all together now to see the ramifications.

We have Image based backup software that can snapshot the changes made in the last 15 minutes – if there is a program such as WFBS that makes large amounts of disk change in that 15 minutes then the incremental image will be quite a bit larger than normal.  It can be that you will get a few Gigabytes of changes in a short period of time.  These incrementals are fundamental to restoring the server to that specific point in time and therefore we can’t do anything about them per se.

It’s worthwhile noting that programs such as disk defragmentation utilities can also cause large amounts of disk change in short period of time.  Such programs should only be run outside of hours and periodically to minimise the change and therefore backup sizes.  There may well be other programs like this that I’ve not specifically called out – be aware of them if you see things like the large incremental backups and investigate to find out the root cause of the problem.

So how do we get around this problem so that we can have the ability to minimise our backup sizes and give us the power to replicate our incrementals quickly?  It’s actually quite simple.  The solution is to NOT backup these sections of the system every 15 minutes.  Now you can’t do that specifically, so what is really needed is for you to create a partition for Utility programs such as this and install those programs to that partition.  You can backup the rest of your server every 15minutes if that is what you want, but with this partition, simply back it up once a day.  You will find that the REAL amount of data change from the start of the day to the end of the day may only be a few hundred MB at most which can easily be replicated outside of business hours.  Now – the inbuilt SBS backup can’t do this – only third party programs such as ShadowProtect or Acronis can have multiple backup jobs scheduled.

Given you now have a utility partition, you might want to think about moving other such programs or databases to it – things that are not updated frequently include WSUS – it typically will synchronise once a day and hand out patches during the day.  In a disaster recovery scenario, it typically won’t be an issue to restore the main server from say 4pm today and the utilities partition from 10pm last night.

In my testing, I need to highlight that the problems of large incrementals are not unique to ShadowProtect – when running Trend WFBS on my server with the SBS backup, and 30 minute backup intervals, I observed large incrementals as well – they are just hidden inside the backup itself so it’s not as obvious.  The same happened when I ran a defragmentation on my disk drive using SBS backup as well.  The moral to that is that it’s very easy to blame one product for another products “working by design”.

I hope this helps you understand the issue and ways to work around it.

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Posted in FAQs | 7 Comments »