The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation (Asigra)

On trying to backup an Exchange database using Asigra we were seeing the message “The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation” after about 4 hours of backing up. This was an Exchange database backup (non VSS), and it was copying the database to the DS-Client buffer.  The Exchange database was 1TB+.  The DS-Client was running on Windows 8.1.

The message:

The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation  (d:\buffer\buf\366\1\Microsoft Information Store\database1\database1.edb)

Solution:

There is a default limitation with the Windows file system for supporting large files. We had to reformat the buffer drive on the DS-Client using the command:

format d: /fs:ntfs /L /Q

After making this change we no longer experienced the error message and backups completed successfully.

Asigra reporting “cannot allocate memory” during seed import

We have DS-Systems running on Linux and we connect the Windows Seed backups to a Windows 7/8.1 machine and then use CIFS to mount the Windows share to Linux. The command we use on Linux to mount the Windows share is:

mount -t cifs //<ipaddress of windows machine>/<sharename> -o username=administrator,password=xxxxxx /mnt/seed

We were importing some large backup sets with millions of files and started noticing “cannot allocate memory” errors during the seed import process. When the import would complete it would indicate that not all files were imported.

At first we thought this was an Asigra issue, but after much troubleshooting we found this was an issue with the Windows machine we were using and was related to using the CIFS protocol with Linux.

A sample link to the issue we were seeing is: http://linuxtecsun.blogspot.ca/2014/12/cifs-failed-to-allocate-memory.html

That link indicates to make the following changes on the Windows machine:

regedit:

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\MemoryManagement\LargeSystemCache (set to 1)

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters\Size (set to 3)

Alternatively, start Command Prompt in Admin Mode and execute the following:

reg add “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management” /v “LargeSystemCache” /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

reg add “HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters” /v “Size” /t REG_DWORD /d 3 /f

Do one of the following for the settings to take effect:

Restart Windows

Restart the Server service via services.msc or from the Command Prompt run: ‘net stop lanmanserver’ and ‘net start lanmanserver’ – The server may automatically restart after stopping it.

After we made these changes the memory errors were resolved!

Asigra slow seed import

We recently discovered that Asigra DS-System v13.0.0.5 seems to have a serious problem with importing seed backups. This problem exposed itself as we attempted to import 5.5TB of seed data. We then performed additional testing by backing up a small Windows 2008 server. The seed backup was a little under 3GB. On v13.0.0.5 the seed import took 55 minutes. On the same infrastructure, the same server seed backup imported into a v12.2.1 DS-System in less than 3 minutes.

In addition we are also seeing the error “cannot allocate memory” during the seed import process even though we have tons of free RAM and disk space.

We have notified Asigra and they are attempting to reproduce the problem.

Update 12/4/2015

In testing, and working with Asigra, we have found that if you create the seed backup without using the metadata encryption option then the seed import speed is acceptable and imports quickly.

Update 12/8/2015

Asigra released DS-System v13.0.0.10 to address this issue. Testing shows it does indeed solve the speed issue. Thanks Asigra!

Asigra BLM Archiving – Align the value of your data with the cost to protect it

Years ago, we treated all data as being equal. All data originated on one type of storage and stayed there until it was deleted. We now understand that not all data is created equal. Some types of data are more important than others, or accessed more frequently than others. Backup Lifecycle Management (BLM), defines the BLM concept where data is created on one storage system, then migrated to less expensive storage systems as it ages.

Asigra Backup Tiers

tiered data

For example:

Data that is 2 minutes old is highly valued.
Data that is 2 months old may be of interest but is not as highly valued.
Data that is 2 years old may be needed for records but it is not critical to the daily functioning of the company.
DS-System – Primary Storage-Business-Critical Operational Data

Business Critical Operation Data contains the files, databases, email systems, etc., that are needed for operations on a day-to-day basis. All data that is critical to business operations data should be stored in the DS-System Tier.

BLM Archiver – Policy based retention of older data

Large file servers or other large repositories of potentially older data can be moved to BLM, Cost savings are the primary benefit by allowing storage of older data and automatic retention policies that move aged data into the lower cost tier. BLM Archiver can also be leveraged to provide storage of past generations of data while keeping the most recent version in business critical DS-System.

Managecast will help with analyzing your data to determine a protection method to best suit your recovery requirements and budget. There are many options to protect business data by strategically identifying the value and aligning the cost to protect it.

BLM Cloud Storage – For Low-Cost, Rarely Retrieved Files

Typically for files older than 1 year, BLM Cloud Storage is a method to cost effectively protect large data sets that are still needed for reference, compliance, and infrequent restores.

Files older than a specified age can be selected to move to long-term cloud storage and are generally grouped in large chucks from 250GB on up to multiple terabytes and then copied to long-term archive on disk.

Customers can utilize Amazon S3 cloud storage or use Managecast Enterprise Cloud Storage

Reducing backup cost with Asigra

Summary

Data growth continues to expand at an explosive pace. More and more files are created every day. The files often get much larger over time as well. Compliance and other government mandates also require longer retention of past data which means backup data can grow even more.

Fortunately we have a lot of options when it comes to managing the size of offsite backups. This article will help you keep your backups to a reasonable size to ensure you are protecting your valuable data in the most cost effective way possible.

This information assumes you are using Asigra Cloud Backup, but it may also benefit you if using another capacity based backup system.

Not only will fixing ineffeciencies help lower your costs for offsite backup, but can also speed up the time it takes to make backups and reduce bandwidth usage!

Identify largest backup sets

Typically the largest backup sets are the backup sets that typically need the most attention from a space consumption standpoint. It does not do much good to focus our energy on small backup sets.

Run a backup set report from DS-Client (Reports menu, Backup Sets, Print or Print Preview) to determine which backup sets are consuming the most space.

Identify and make a list of the top backup sets based on “Stored Size” Column. Sometimes it’s one large backup set that, or the top 3.  A client with 100 backup sets may have a larger number of top backup sets than a customer with 3 backup sets, but generally your top 20% of your backups will consume 80% of the total space (the good ole 80/20 rule!)

Review backup logs on the largest backup sets

So, how did the largest backup sets become the largest?  Large backup sets can sometimes grow larger than expected, especially over time, because data is being backed up that is not needed. Examples could include (but not limited to):

  • Large SQL or other database dumps
  • Reorganizing file system data that is then detected as new backup data. For example, copying data from old directories to new directories.
  • Daily backup of antivirus signature updates (and old updates never removed)
  • Users copying large amounts of data to the network (family pictures, videos, backups of PC’s)
  • Backups made onto the server be backed up – nothing like backing up backups!

A great way to detect unneeded data is to review the detailed backup logs and review the list of files being backed up. Perform the following:

  1. From the DS-Client, click Logs, Activity Logs
  2. Change the From field date to several months ago to see the past activity
  3. Change the Activity field to “Backup” to only see the backup activity
  4. Change the Node/Set to the largest backup set to see only that activity
  5. Click on Find to see all backups for that specific node
  6. Once you see the list of backups, click on the “Transferred Amount” column twice to put the largest transfers at the top of the list. The list will be listed in order of the largest backup transfers over a given period with the largest transfers listed a the top.
  7. Select the largest backup (based on transfer size) in the list – this should be listed at the very top. Take note of how much data got transferred, the length of the backup and how many files got backed up.
  8. With the largest backup selected, click on the “Detailed log” button.
  9. On the next screen, click on Find to see all of the files that got backed up in that session.
  10. Click on the Size column to put the largest files on top
  11. Review the path and filename that got backed up and verify this is data that needed to be backed up.

Notes: If there are no extra large backups over a given range of dates consider reviewing “average” backups and look for data that doesn’t need to be backed up.

Managecast is highly experienced in reviewing backups. You may always choose to engage Managecast to get assistance with these items as we perform these functions frequently and know what to look for. However, you know your data best, so your intimate knowledge of your environment can also be valuable in determining if you are backing up data efficiently.

Review all backup sets and ask yourself “Does all of this data REALLY need to be offsite?”

For instance, antivirus or other utility servers may be important, but replaceable and do not contain any unique data that needs to be protected offsite. By eliminating offsite backups of these types of backup sets you may be able to reduce the total offsite data.

Consider using “local-ONLY” backup sets for data that needs to be backed up, but not critical enough to justify the cost of off-site backups. However, this may impact your recovery time objective in a significant disaster so make sure you know the pros and cons!

Some other things to check:

  1. Are you backing up Anti-virus definitions/software? Does this data need to be offsite or can you use local-only backups?
  2. Are recycle bin and temp files/folders being backed up? They can probably be excluded.
  3. Consider excluding the “System Volume Information” folder at the root of each disk drive being backed up. This is unneeded data.
  4. Are you excluding certain file extensions such as *.tmp, *.bak, *.mp3, and other file extensions that may represent non-critical data?
  5. Check the retention rules:
    1. Do all of the backup sets have a retention policy assigned?
    2. Is a schedule set to run the retention?
    3. How are you handling removal of deleted files from the backups? Check the retention for handling of removing deleted files from backups.

Are you fully leveraging archive storage?

Asigra provides for 4 different storage tiers to allow you to align the value of your data with the cost to protect it. Archiving can dramatically lower cloud backup storage costs.

Operating system data and applications can be replaced, so by using local-only backup for this type of data you can lower your overall costs.

In addition, older, static, rarely used data can be archive to dramatically reduce costs. To learn more about archiving and the different backup storage tiers, click here.