Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Symantec Backup Exec backup to disk problems

I've used Backup Exec 10, 11, and 12, and have had a similar problem with backup-to-disk jobs in each. In version 10 I couldn't get them to work at all. Version 11 had problems with the agent either crashing, or the job getting hung. I figured out a fix (see below) for the problem, but didn't talk to support since I was able to get it working. Then I upgraded to Backup Exec 12 and everything went out the window. I felt like it was actually a downgrade because version 11 had been working well, and post-upgrade I couldn't finish any backup-to-disk jobs without a remote agent either crashing or getting stuck.

Here's a little background on my setup. I have 4 different Backup Exec installations, all running a mixture of differential and full backups. One is for an Exchange server and it works great. I'd highly recommend version 12 for this because it allows you to backup the information store only, rather than both the information store and individual mailboxes, and you can still restore individual messages. Another is for a set of Windows server with SQL, and that setup works well too. The other two are for a mix of Mac and Windows servers, and that's where the problem lies. The Mac agent seems to like to crash or get hung up during a backup to disk. Backing up to tape usually works fine, but that's not always convenient. I'd have to remember to check the backup jobs now and then in order to restart the agent, or kill the current job and restart the Backup Exec services. It was definitely a hassle, especially since version 11 had been working pretty seamlessly.

One of my installs just started to work, mostly. I don't know if there was an update that solved a problem it had, but all of a sudden the backup jobs were finishing and I was able to live with it. It was after that when I upgraded the other installation (that had been a fresh install of 12) that was running version 11. After the upgrade, the backups had a really hard time completely. After dealing with it for 2-3 weeks, it started getting better, just like the previous install. However, it still wasn't working well enough to just accept it, so I contacted support. After dealing with them for a few weeks, and going through what seemed like a new tech each day, I remembered what I had to do to fix the version 11 install. That fix was to map the backup-to-disk folder on the Windows server running Backup Exec, otherwise the connection to the backup-to-disk folder would drop mid-backup. I did that and version 12 started working much better. When I asked the Symantec tech why their software required that you map a drive, even though the application forced you to use a UNC path and didn't say anything about mapping drives, he had no answer. He also didn't offer any information as to whether it was a bug they were working on, or if others had run across the same problem.

If you're having a Backup Exec remote agent crash or get stuck, hopefully you run across this post and it helps you out. The trick seems to be mapping a drive to your backup-to-disk folder on the Windows server running Backup Exec. I couldn't tell you why it works, but it definitely seems to help.

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