Best Practices

Turn off disk defrag software when using incremental backups.  When ShadowProtect takes an incremental backup, it writes a file identifying those sectors that changed since the last backup. Disk defrag software change many sectors on the disk. This greatly increases the time it takes to run the next incremental backup.  If you want to run disk defrag software, do it before running a full backup image. Then do not run or schedule the disk defrag software to run while ShadowProtect is scheduled to take Incremental backup images.

Test the StorageCraft Recovery Environment. Make sure the ShadowProtect Recovery Environment CD boots your system and that you have access to both any local drives and network devices that you might need.

Monitor disk space usage where ShadowProtect stores backup images. If the location runs out of space, backup jobs fail.

Monitor the ShadowProtect log file. Routinely examine the ShadowProtect log file. The log file confirms the success or failure of a job. Should a backup job fail, the log file provides details allowing you to take corrective action.

Use password encryption to protect backup image files. ShadowProtect backup images include all the contents of the disk drive. Using password encryption  protects this data.

Include multiple volumes in your backup job. Databases or applications may span or use multiple volumes. Be sure to include all relevant volumes--not just the data volume--in the backup image. ShadowProtect snapshots can operate simultaneously on multiple volumes, ensuring cross-volume consistency.

Periodically save backup image files to removable storage. External hard drives or optical media let you store backup image files at an off-site location to keep images available in the event of an onsite disaster.

Use the Image Conversion Tool to manage backup images. You can consolidate backup images, split backup images for CD or DVD storage, or save the images as virtual disks. You can also use ImageManager for consolidating continuous incremental backup jobs.

Use Email notification. Automatic emails keep you informed of the operation of your ShadowProtect backup jobs. You can then quickly identify and resolve problems.

Use a retention policy that maximizes point-in-time histories. Review the Retention option available in ShadowProtect for retaining point-in-time histories, including using differential images for second and subsequent full images. These options can maximize the use of available storage capacity.

Working with heavily stressed servers. When monitoring the operating conditions of critical servers, you may note that one or more systems (such as Windows SBS) become heavily-tasked during business hours. This burden may result in failed VSS backups. Rather than opting for only a crash-consistent backup using a non-VSS driver, ShadowProtect often can successfully execute a VSS backup of these same server volumes by scheduling the VSS backup outside of normal business hours when the server is less tasked. (See Creating Backup Files for details on scheduling.)

Reinstall after an OS upgrade. An OS upgrade drastically changes the system. Whether it is an upgrade from an existing Windows 7 system to Windows 8 or a Windows 8 to a Windows 8 Pro, these changes impact ShadowProtect. To ensure consistent ShadowProtect performance, deactivate the ShadowProtect license and uninstall the software prior to the upgrade. After the OS upgrade, reinstall ShadowProtect and reactivate the license. Even if the system preserves the old backup job configurations and other ShadowProtect settings, StorageCraft recommends starting a new backup job for the upgraded system rather than continue an existing chain based on the earlier OS version.

Snapshot driver fails to install. The ShadowProtect snapshot driver, stcvsm.sys, may not install as a result of a conflict with the Windows Telnet Service. This can lead to failed backups and errors in the Windows Event logs. For this failure to occur, the Windows Telnet Service must be:

  • Installed
  • Running
  • The "Log On on type" changed to "Local System account"
  • The "Allow service to interact with desktop" option unchecked.

This failure may also issue various error messages:

In the ShadowProtect Backup log

  • Cannot lock the volume (-5 Access is denied.)
  • Unexpected end of the image file
  • Final error (-5 Access is denied.)
  • sbrun.exe started successfully but failed to complete the task
  • Incrementals are not supported on this volume

In Windows Application Event log (all VSS errors)

- VssAdmin: Unable to create shadow copy: The shadow copy provider had an error.
- Volume Shadow Copy Service error: Unexpected error DeviceIOControl
- Volume Shadow Copy Service error: Unexpected error calling routine CoCreateInstance.
- Volume Shadow Copy Service error: A critical component required by the Volume Shadow Copy service is not registered.

To avoid this install failure and other errors, keep the Telnet default setting of:"Local Service". (For further details, see the Microsoft KB article.)

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