Server 2003, NTBackup Utility, Shadowcopy Service and Network Drives.

525 pts.
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NTBackup
Shadow Copy
Volume Shadow Copy
VSS
Windows Server 2003
Good afternoon! I have an interesting scenario I'm trying to resolve here. Namely, I wish to execute a centralized backup of Outlook PST files for my users across my building. The problem is that most users do not log off, or shut down Outlook. This is not a situation that I am able to remedy, as such I need to determine a solution based on the possibility of the PST files being in use/open at any given time. I found that a workable answer lay here: http://www.neurophys.wisc.edu/comp/blog/2007/bb20070403_01.asp Namely, by making use of NTBackup's inherent use of the Shadowcopy service, I could back up the PST file even while it was in use, and push it out to my backup server. I've been testing that over and over and over, and it has worked even when I was actively opening emails from Outlook in that PST file. Ok, great. Now, what I want to do is take it to the next level. I do not want to implement it as you see there, because that's a push move - I'd have to configure it on each PC. What I want to set up is a 'pull' implementation, where I can run the backup centrally from the mail backup server, and pull the PST file backup onto that location. I planned to do this by creating a batch file which would map a drive FROM Dropbox (my mail backup server), out to the user's machine (for example: \workpcC$ ), then using NTBackup to navigate to their PST file and copy it back up. The problem is this. When I run it in that direction, the file-in-use problem comes into play. I am running NTBackup utility from DROPBOX, which runs 2003 Server Standard. As my test, I manually mapped my Z: drive to the user's PC, and manually ran NTBackup to reach out and pull in that PST file, saving it onto DROPBOX as a backup BKF file. When I do so, it works sometimes, but other times it will complete with skipped files; here's an example of the log file results: Backup Status Operation: Backup Active backup destination: File Media name: "outlook-pst.bkf created 3/7/2008 at 4:14 PM" Volume shadow copy creation: Attempt 1. Backup of "Z: \user-pcF$" Backup set #1 on media #1 Backup description: "outlook.pst File Backup" Media name: "outlook-pst.bkf created 3/7/2008 at 4:14 PM" Backup Type: Normal Backup started on 3/7/2008 at 4:14 PM. Warning: Unable to open "Z:Documents and SettingsusernameLocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlooklocal.pst" - skipped. Reason: The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process. Backup completed on 3/7/2008 at 4:14 PM. Directories: 7 Files: 0 Bytes: 308 Time: 1 second ---------------------- What I don't understand is - if the NTBackup utility in Server 2k3 uses Shadowcopy, why would this happen? Or does it not work if the file you are attempting to backup is on a remote drive, and not on the server itself? I am under the assumption that is the case, in which case I could not implement this from the server out to the PCs.

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would it not be easier to keep the pst files on the servers? that is where we keep ours. storage is cheap compared to information that is lost from a drive failure. If the pst files are on the server in say the user’s home directory you could back it up that way with shadowcopy or use a program that will detect inactivity for say 3 hours and autologoff the user from the workstation freeing up the files for normal backup.

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  • Lonewolfbw
    "would it not be easier to keep the pst files on the servers? that is where we keep ours. storage is cheap compared to information that is lost from a drive failure. If the pst files are on the server in say the user's home directory you could back it up that way with shadowcopy or use a program that will detect inactivity for say 3 hours and autologoff the user from the workstation freeing up the files for normal backup. " It actually would, but the situation I have to work with is sort of unique. Being part of a University environment, I've found since taking the job that these are not folk who'r eused to taking 'no' for an answer or changing their ways. I'm hoping to change that in time, but.. In the meantime, my superiors wanted me to specifically do the following (and actually, ths project was undertaken by my predecessor. I have inherited it, so to speak) - Implement a solution to back up all *local* email storage for these users, on a daily basis, be it a PST file they put on their local machine, or just the default Outlook Data folder. If they're storing their email on the Exchange server, then it's not really a problem for me anyway. I should mention that not all these people are on Exchange, we have quite a few still using IMAP. I am actually having to set this up for 5 separate clients: Outlook 2003/2007, Eudora 5.2/6.0 for Windows, Entourage for Mac, MacMail and Eudora 5.2 for Mac. However, I'm only concerned with the PC side at the moment. The problem is that 1) I cannot be sure people are shutting their computers down or logging off at the end of the day. Being academics, they tend to work strange hours, and very often leave their machines (and Outlook) running all night for some experiment or other. Ideally, I would just run a simple script to shut them all down after a certain time, but I don't have the authority to do so. So, I cannot rely on Outlook being down at any time of day in particular. My boss said, specifically, he wants this to "go in and grab their PST files or Outlook data folder, and store it on Dropbox, without any user intervention or assistance." That's proving quite a challenge. I can make this work as a 'push' solution from their desktop out to the dropbox server, but my goal is a centralized 'pull' solution from the server. I can rule out Backup Exec, because I am unable to purchase that many client licenses (somewhere between 250-300).
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  • Jmkelly
    You're being told to weave straw into gold. Let me see if I can put it into words your boss will understand: You can't just "go in and grab" a user's Outlook mail file. It's not possible. An Outlook email file is a database; if more than one user/program/process is allowed access to the database, it can get corrupted; so Windows stringently restricts access to that file. While Outlook is running, nothing but Outlook can touch that file. It's that simple. This is one more reason to take each user's email storage and put it on the server. You can't go into the user's office at 11:00 p.m. and order them to close Outlook so you can back up their email -- but you can put time limits on their login so they get kicked off at 11:00, and you can do a scheduled backup then. Finally, you might mention to your boss that allowing users to keep emails with possibly sensitive information on their PCs is a glaring and possibly illegal security breach under HIPAA. If there's any kind of confidential information in those files, your organization is one clueless user, one hacker, and/or one stolen PC away from a nasty and embarrassing lawsuit.
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