DOHA EVENT: Data Availability in the Hybrid Cloud Era

by Shijaz Abdulla on 14.05.2013 at 20:57

Below is an invitation to a joint event between Qatar Datamation Systems, Microsoft, Commvault and HP focusing on Data Availability in the Hybrid Cloud.

It is time to re-think your IT investment and infrastructure to address the exponential growth and availability of data, there is a compelling need for a strategic alignment of the backup recovery, archiving and disaster recovery.
See beyond today and focus on sustained business operations that can withstand threats and pitfalls that befall today’s business establishment.
We are honored to invite you in collaboration with Commvault, Microsoft, and HP to demonstrate the approach for the unified Data Protection & Availability across the software, hardware and cloud stack. We will share our thoughts on what are ahead and compelling insights into investing in the business outcomes and the concept of the Hybrid Cloud Data Protection.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
8:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Sharq Village & SPA


08:45 – 09:30     Registrations & Welcome Refreshments
09:30 – 09:45     Keynote
09:45 – 10:45     Commvault: The exponential way forward in Data
10:45 – 11:00     Coffee Break
11:00 – 12:00     Microsoft: Realizing the Hybrid Cloud With Windows
                          Azure & SQL
12:00 – 13:00     HP: The Converged Storage Approach
13:00                 Lunch


Backup to Cloud Part 3: Using Windows Azure Recovery services with System Center Data Protection Manager 2012

by Shijaz Abdulla on 12.05.2013 at 16:48

With the announcement of the Windows Azure Recovery Services Preview, you can now backup data to Windows Azure using the Windows Backup Agent or from DPM 2012 using the DPM Backup Agent.

We explored how to backup data using the Windows Agent in a previous post.

Now, let’s see how we can use System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 (DPM 2012) to backup data to Windows Azure.


1. Install System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 Service Pack 1 with all latest updates.

2. IMPORTANT: Follow part 1 if this post to create a backup vault on Windows Azure, and to create a self-signed certificate from the computer that you installed DPM on.


1. From the computer running DPM, open your Windows Azure Management Portal. Go to Recovery Services and click on the vault you created in part 1.

2. On the right, click Download Agent.


3. Choose the agent that works with DPM and install it on your DPM server.



4. Open the System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 DPM Administrator Console. Click Management in the left pane. Click on Online in the left pane.


5. Click Register.

6. Select the certificate that you created in part 1. Then select the corresponding vault on Windows Azure. Click Next.


7. Choose an internet proxy if needed. Click Next.

8. If you are running Windows Server 2012, you have the option of setting internet bandwidth throttling. This option is unavailable in Windows Server 2008 R2. Click Next.

9. Choose a folder for temporarily holding recoverable items during a recovery. This is more like a staging area and you need enough space as the size of data that you anticipate recovering in parallel. Click Next.


10. Choose a passphrase for encrypting your data. Make sure you save your passphrase in a safe place or you will not be able to restore your data. Click Register.


Your DPM server is now registered with Windows Azure.

You can now configure backup jobs to backup to cloud. The steps to configure these jobs are similar to normal backup jobs, except that you choose Windows Azure as your backup destination.


See also

Backing up to the Cloud: Windows Azure Backup Preview – Part 2

by Shijaz Abdulla on 09.04.2013 at 22:05

This is a continuation  of my earlier post on Windows Azure Backup Preview.

In the previous post, we discussed how you can generate a self-signed certificate using makecert.exe on the server from which you intend to backup. If you want to backup from multiple servers, you need to export the certificate you generated on the first server along with the private key and import it into the Personal store of the other computers that you intend to backup from. Windows Azure identifies which online backup vault to upload to using this certificate. You can use the same certificate on computers in different networks, domains or workgroups.

  1. Upload the certificate by clicking Manage Certificateon the Windows Azure Management portal.image
  2. Download and install the backup agent on your server. Currently, the agent supports Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Center 2012 SP1 Data Protection Manager. You will find the download link on the right pane.


  3. The Windows Azure Management portal gives you download links to agents for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Center Data Protection Manager. However, Scott Guthrie’s blog post mentions support for Windows Server 2008 R2, while a Microsoft employee suggests that WS2008R2 support might be added in coming months.

    I have personally installed the Windows Azure backup agent on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and it worked flawlessly (although it will need installation of more prerequisites, like Windows Management Framework updates, PowerShell, etc)


  4. Installation is fairly straightforward. Having PowerShell installed is a prerequisite. The Windows Azure backup agent is updated via Windows Update.


  5. Open Windows Azure Backup using the icon placed on the desktop. On the right pane of the Windows Azure Backup console, click Register Server.
  6. Configure the proxy if needed.

  7. On the next screen browse for and select the self-signed certificate you created in Part 1of this post.

    Click the Register button. The wizard will then proceed to fetch the backup vaults from Windows Azure.

  8. Select the Backup Vault you created.image
  9. On the next screen, enter a passphrase to encrypt your backup with. This ensures confidentiality of the data you backup to Azure. Make sure you save the passphrase in a safe location.


  10. Click Register and you are now ready to configure backups for this server.

  Scheduling a backup

  1. Click on Schedule Backup in the right pane of the MMC console.


  2. Select the items you need to backup.


  3. You can use Exclusion Settings to exclude certain file types from being backed up. Click Next.


  4. Set your backup frequency/schedule on the next screen. You can choose the days the backup should run and at what time. You can execute up to 3 scheduled backups per day.


  5. Click Change Propertiesif you wish to set network throttling settings, to optimize bandwidth usage during working hours.


    Click OK and Next.

  6. On the next screen, choose your retention settings.

    image The more older backups you retain, the more storage you will consume on your Azure subscription.

  7. Click Next, review your configuration and click Finish to create the job.

The backup will start running according to the schedule.


On the Windows Azure Management Portal, you can see the servers you are backing up, the storage consumed and more information about your protected items.



Here’s a screenshot of Windows Azure backup agent running on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1


If you want to backup beyond just files, and you want to use Windows Azure Backup with applications like SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, etc you need System Center 2012 SP1 Data Protection Manager. I will write a post on how to make this work as time permits.

See also

Backing up to the Cloud: Windows Azure Backup Preview – Part 1

by Shijaz Abdulla on 08.04.2013 at 23:59

Windows Azure Backup helps you protect important server data off-site with automated backup and restore.

What can you back up with Windows Azure Backup?

You can manage cloud backups from familiar backup tools in Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, or the Data Protection Manager component of Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Authorized users can easily recover backups to any server.

What other options are available?

For making cloud-based backups of enterprise data including application data, Hyper-V VMs and even VMware, you could consider the StorSimple solution, which is an snapshot-based cloud-integrated storage solution.

Incremental Backups

With incremental backups, only changes to files are transferred to the cloud. This helps ensure efficient use of storage, reduced bandwidth consumption, and point-in-time recovery of multiple versions of the data. Configurable data retention policies, data compression, and data transfer throttling offer you added flexibility and help boost efficiency. Backups are stored in Windows Azure and are “off-site”, reducing the need to secure and protect on-site backup media.


Windows Azure Backup is billed in units based on your average daily amount of compressed data stored over a monthly billing period, at a rate of $0.25 per gigabyte (GB) per month during preview. Once Backup is generally available, it will be billed at $0.50 per GB per month.

For more information on Windows Azure Backup, please visit the webpage. For more information on pricing, please visit the Pricing Details Webpage.

Activating the Preview

1. Open your Windows Azure Management Portal.

2. On the top bar, click Subscriptions and then choose Manage your subscriptions.


3. Choose Preview Features

4.  Activate the Backup feature by clicking try it now.


Getting Started

5. If you go back to your Management Portal, you will now find Recovery on the left pane.


6. Create a new Backup Vault.


7. Once the vault is provisioned, start by clicking Manage Certificate.


To use your own self-signed certificate, follow these steps:

  1. Download Certificate Creation Tool (makecert.exe) from
  2. Open Command Prompt (cmd.exe) with Administrator privileges and run the following command, replacing <certName> with the name of your certificate : makecert.exe -r -pe -n CN=<certName> -ss my -sr localmachine -eku  -e 12/12/2015  -len 2048 <CertName>.cer


I will publish another post soon, which details how you can deploy the backup agents on the server and configure the backups.

See also:

Using File History in Windows 8 to backup your files to network storage

by Shijaz Abdulla on 14.12.2012 at 20:35

Update: The File History feature is available on Windows RT and Surface RT devices too. You also have the option of using the built-in microSD card on your Surface device.

I have an Iomega Network Attached Storage (NAS) at home that I use to keep backup copies of all my data. The NAS comes with bundled software named Iomega QuikProtect that automatically copies my data to the NAS whenever it changes.

After I upgraded to Windows 8, I noticed the Iomega QuikProtect is not compatible with Windows 8. After a while of trawling the iomega forums, I discovered that Iomega has confirmed that their QuickProtect software is not compatible with Windows 8 and that they will not be building a version that is compatible with Windows 8.

They (and I) recommend using the new File History feature in Windows 8 instead. File History, once set up, automatically saves copies of your files to a network location or external drive. You can use the same tool to restore your files from the saved location.

Here’s how to setup File History on Windows 8:

  1. Open Control Panel > System and Security > File History.


  2. Choose Use network location and select the share on your NAS that you want to use for saving your data. If you have an external hard drive, you can choose that instead.


  3. Within moments, you are ready to backup your stuff to the specified location. You can click Turn On and the process will start. You can also check the options to see if you want to change the defaults.


  4. Click Advanced Settings to set up how often version copies should be made, size of the offline cache and how long the saved versions should be kept.


  5. You can also choose the Exclude Folders option to prevent certain folders from being copied. This is especially useful if you use Hyper-V on Windows 8 and you do not want the *.vhdx files to be copied over.
  6. When you’re ready, click the Turn On button and watch your files getting copied over. The location is usually “\\fileshare\<>\<computer_name>\


You can also troubleshoot File History from the Windows Event Viewer. Look under Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > FileHistory-Engine

ExTRA crashes when you try to restore a mailbox

by Shijaz Abdulla on 26.01.2009 at 09:24

January 26, 2009

On Exchange Server 2007 SP1, Exchange Troubleshooting Agent hangs/crashes after you mount the database in the recovery storage group and begin the actual ‘merge or copy mailbox’ process with the following (or similar) crash information:

Problem signature:
  Problem Event Name:      APPCRASH

  Application Name:            ExTRA.exe
  Application Version:
  Application Timestamp:       47342a91
  Fault Module Name:           migbase.dll
  Fault Module Version:
  Fault Module Timestamp:      47427ba1
  Exception Code:              c0000005
  Exception Offset:            000000000006741e
  OS Version:                  6.0.6001.
  Locale ID:                   1033
Operating System: Windows 2008 Server
Time Zone: (GMT+04:00) Abu Dhabi, Muscat
Alternate Language: en-US
Support topic(s): Tools/ExTRA

The solution would be to install Rollup Update 5 on Exchange Server 2007 SP1.

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Co-locating backup data on a single tape in DPM 2007

by Shijaz Abdulla on 12.08.2008 at 07:38

If you need to optimally use your backup tapes by storing multiple backups on the same tape, you need to turn on the Media Co-location feature in Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007. By default, DPM 2007 uses a single tape for each backup operation and does not use that tape again till it is expired, marked as free or erased.

In order to enable Media Co-location, you need to install the DPM 2007 Feature pack and then issue the following command in the DPM Shell:

Set-DPMGlobalProperty -DpmServer <DPM Server Name> -OptimizeTapeUsage $true

Please note that this command will not work unless you have the DPM 2007 Feature Pack installed. To verify that co-location was indeed enabled, check the Management > Libraries tab.


An important point to note is that, even with co-location enabled, DPM will not store two different backups from the same protection group into a single tape. The co-location feature only allows co-locating data from multiple protection groups with the same retention ranges in a tape till it is full.

***Lighten your load. Store, Backup and Access Important Files Online using ElephantDrive – Free Trial.***

Recovering a single Exchange 2007 mailbox using DPM 2007

by Shijaz Abdulla on 07.05.2008 at 16:25

In this post, I explain how you can use System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 (hereafter DPM) to recover a single Exchange Server 2007 mailbox to a Recovery Storage Group (hereafter RSG) and ‘merge’ the restore with the actual mailbox.

On our production environment, we have Exchange Server 2007 SP1 SCC running on a Windows Server 2008 failover cluster.

Before continuing, make sure you have created a Recovery Storage Group on your Exchange 2007 mailbox server for the mailbox database that you want to restore to. This can be done via GUI (Toolbox > Database Recovery Management) or via Powershell.

new-storagegroup -Server <Server_Name> -LogFolderPath path_to_Logfiles> -Name <RSG_Name> -SystemFolderPath <Database_Path> -Recovery

On the DPM server, click on the Recovery tab, and navigate through the hierarchy and locate the storage group that contains the mailbox that you want to recover. Double clicking on the mailbox database, shows a list of mailboxes. Right click on the mailbox  you want to restore and click Recover. You can also select a date and time of the recovery point from which you would like to restore.


In the Recovery Wizard, review the recovery information click Next and select the recovery type. Click browse to select your mailbox server. You will have to manually type the Storage Group Name (specify your Recovery Storage Group name here) and your Database Name (the mailbox database name inside your RSG). DPMrecovery2

Click Next, review the options and begin the restoration process.


Once the recovery process is complete, go back to the Exchange 2007 mailbox server. Open Exchange Management Console –> Toolbox –> Database Recovery Management.

Mount the Mailbox database that you just restored in the Recovery Storage Group. This shouldn’t require more explanation.


After mounting the database, come back to the above menu and select Merge or copy mailbox contents.


Select the mailbox database that contains the mailbox you want to recover and click Gather Merge information. On the next screen, review the merge options and click Perform pre-merge tasks.


Select your mailbox and click Perform Merge actions. Once the process completes, review the result.


The restored mailbox on the RSG database is now merged with the production database.

***Lighten your load. Store, Backup and Access Important Files Online using ElephantDrive – Free Trial.***

Data Protection Manager 2007 with Exchange Server 2007 SP1 – Part 2

by Shijaz Abdulla on 07.05.2008 at 10:38

See also: Data Protection Manager 2007 with Exchange Server 2007 SP1 – Part 1

I’ve just managed to get Data Protection Manager 2007 to protect my production Exchange Server 2007 SP1 mailbox servers running in a Single Copy Cluster (SCC) configuration on Windows Server 2008.

The configuration process is fairly simple. Once I have installed the DPM agents on all cluster nodes, I created a protection group for my SCC cluster as follows:


Since I will not be using a tape drive, I just chose a short-term recovery goal to back up to a storage device. You can choose to have a synchronization done every 15 minutes so that you will be able to restore your database to the latest 15 minute recovery point and then automatically apply the any logs remaining on your production servers.

It’s also important to configure your Express Full backup at least once a day. This also takes care of truncating the committed transaction log files, which tend to grow over time and fill up disk space on your log drives.


See also: Recovering a single Exchange 2007 mailbox using DPM 2007

***Lighten your load. Store, Backup and Access Important Files Online using ElephantDrive – Free Trial.***

Exchange Server 2007 SP1 on Windows Server 2008

by Shijaz Abdulla on 05.05.2008 at 17:11

I’ve managed to pull up a two node Exchange Server 2007 SP1 Single Copy Cluster (SCC) running on Windows Server 2008 failover cluster. Moved in a few mailboxes (mostly belonging to my colleagues, who have so graciously consented to being guinea pigs.. um err.. volunteers for this project). 🙂 So far so good, there weren’t any major surprises.

Until when I started thinking about Backup.

Here’s the shocker for those of you who don’t know: Windows Server Backup (the all-new ‘NTBACKUP’ that ships with Windows Server 2008) does not support backing up Exchange Server 2007 mailbox stores!

Other major backup vendors like Veritas/Symantec Netbackup do not support Windows Server 2008 yet. Well, what can you do whilst you wait for the vendors to come up with Windows Server 2008 support?

You can use System Center Data Protection Manager 2007! I am currently evaluating this possibility, and will post my experiences on this blog.

***Lighten your load. Store, Backup and Access Important Files Online using ElephantDrive – Free Trial.***

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