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Windows 2000 Server: Remote and Removable Storage

By Curt Simmons

Remote and Removable Storage

Chapter 8, Configuring Windows 2000 Server, published by Prentice Hall, Inc.

  • Storage Concepts

  • Understanding Libraries

  • Understanding Media Pools

  • Understanding Media States

  • Setting up and Using Remote Storage

  • Volume Management

  • Managing Media

  • Using Removable Storage

  • Configuring and Managing Libraries

  • Configuring Media Pools

  • Configuring and ManagingPhysical Media

  • Configuring Queued Work and Operator Requests

  • Configuring Removable Storage Security

  • Summary

Disk storage space is an ongoing issue in networking environments. Even with the large hard drives available today, file storage continues to pose a problem in many environments. Microsoft addresses this issue by providing remote storage on tape drives and removable media drives in Windows 2000. This technology makes it easy for you to gain additional storage space without having to purchase more hard disks.

Remote storage is not the same as backup. Remote storage is designed to be a storage solution to extend a hard drive, but a regular backup plan should still be in place and followed. In the following sections, you first learn how remote and removable storage work and the benefits that can be gained, then you learn how to configure and manage Remote and Removable Storage in Windows 2000.

Storage Concepts

Remote storage works by moving eligible files from your local hard disk volumes to a remote storage location. When the space on your local, or managed, volume falls under the level you specify, remote storage automatically removes the content from the original file and moves it to the remote storage location. The file still appears on your local drive, but the file size is zero since the file actually resides in a remote location. When the file is needed, remote storage recalls the file and caches it locally so the file can be accessed. Since response time is slower than if the file were actually stored on your local volume, you specify the files or the parameters for the files that should be stored remotely so that your most commonly used files remain on the local volume.

Removable storage allows you to extend your local volumes by using removable storage media to store information. Removable Storage Manager handles this process and keeps track of the location of data stored on removable media, such as CD-ROMs, digital audio tape (DAT), Zip disks, and DVD.

Understanding Libraries

Removable storage organizes data in libraries so that it can track the storage location of individual files. There are two major types of libraries. The first are the Robotic libraries, often called changers or jukeboxes, that hold multiple tapes or disks and can automatically switch between tapes and disks as needed. For example, a ten-CD stereo player can automatically mount the various CDs loaded to the CD drive. The second type are Stand-alone libraries, which are single drives that hold one tape or disk at a time and must be manually changed by the administrator. Remote storage can also manage and track offline media not currently contained in a library. For example, you could store some of the disks or tapes in a file folder until they are needed. Even though the disks or tapes are not currently available, remote storage is aware of them and still considers them a part of the storage library.

Understanding Media Pools

A media pool is a collection of media, such as tapes or disks, that contain the same properties. Media can be organized into pools that have the same management policies. Each media pool can hold either media or other media pools. This design allows you to configure properties that apply to a group of media. A media pool can span a number of libraries, and you can even create media pools that are designed to hold other media pools. This structure allows you to design your media pools as best fits your organization.

There are two major classes of media pools: system and application. System media pools include unrecognized media pools, or blank media, import media pools, which remote storage recognizes, but which have not been used in the system, and Free Media pools, which contain media that is not currently used by applications. Application media pools contain media created by applications and are controlled by those applications (or an administrator). A typical example is Backup. Windows Backup may use one media pool for full backup storage and another for differential backup storage. Unrecognizable media must be moved into Free Media pools before it can be used, and Import media pools can be used once they are catalogued.

Removable storage classifies media in one of two ways. Media can either be classified physically (such as a tape or a disk) or logically. Logical media refers to media that has more than one side, such as double-sided CD-ROM. Removable storage sees each side as a separate medium, and each side can belong to different media pools if needed.

Understanding Media States

Media states define the status of each tape or disk within the removable storage system as to whether the media is working or not. Media states are broken into two categories: physical states and side states. The physical states show the operational condition of the media, such as idle, in use, loaded, mounted, and unloaded. The side states show the usage of the tape or disk instead of its current physical state. For example, a side state can be listed as allocated, available, completed, imported, reserved, etc.

Setting up and Using Remote Storage

Remote storage is not installed on your Windows 2000 Server by default, but you can specify for it to be set up during installation. If this has not been done, you can install remote storage by completing the following steps. Before you perform the steps, you must be logged on as an administrator, and there must be a remote storage media available in a free media pool (see the "Using Removable Storage" section for more information), and you must format volumes managed by remote storage with the Windows 2000 version of NTFS.

  1. Click [right] Start Settings [right] Control Panel. Double-click Add/Remove Programs

  2. In Add/Remove programs, click Add/Remove Windows Components. The Windows Components Wizard begins. Click Next.

  3. Select the Remote Storage check box and click Next. Windows copies the files and installs Remote Storage. Click Finish and reboot your computer.

  4. When your computer reboots, log on with an account that has administrative privileges, then click Start [right] Programs [right] Administrative Tools [right] Remote Storage.

  5. Right-click Remote Storage in the left pane and click Set-up.

  6. The Remote Storage Setup Wizard begins. Click Next.

  7. Set-up checks for logon security privileges and a supported media device.

  8. Select the device or devices you want to use for remote storage, and then complete the steps in the wizard.

Once you have set-up remote storage, you can manage it within the remote storage snap-in, which includes both remote and removable storage. As explained in the wizard, you cannot manage the System volume, but you did specify which volumes remote storage manages during set-up. At this point, remote storage can manage these volumes by copying selected files to remote storage that you specify while leaving the original files cached on your local volumes. You can automatically copy files with the schedule you provide, or you can do this manually as needed. The following sections, show the tasks you can perform with remote storage and how to perform those tasks on your server.

Volume Management

In order to use remote storage effectively, you will have to make some decisions about how you want remote storage to function. The first thing you need to decide is the parameters you want remote storage to use when determining which files to move to remote storage and which to leave on the local volume. You can specify the following criteria so that remote storage can determine which files to store:

  • Minimum file size

  • Elapsed time since the file was last accessed

  • Exclude or include files based on a specified folder and subfolders, file type, file name, or wildcard characters

Remote storage gives you a set list of file inclusion and exclusion rules that cannot be changed, but you can create, remove, or edit your own rules. The following sections show how to configure various file selection parameters

Basic File Selection

To change the file size and file time parameters, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the volume you want to manage and click Settings

  2. On the Settings tab, under File Criteria in Larger Than, click the Up or Down arrow to adjust the file size value.

  3. Under File Criteria in Not Accessed In, click the Up or Down arrow to change the time value.

Adding a File Rule

You can add your own file rules by following these steps:

  1. Right-click the appropriate volume and click Include/Exclude Rules.

  2. On the Include/Exclude tab, click Add.

  3. In Path box, type the full path to the file

  4. In File Type, type the file name extension.

  5. To exclude files when the rule is applied, click Exclude matching files, or to include files when the rule is applied, click Include matching files.

  6. You can also apply the rule to any files stored in subfolders by clicking the Apply rule to subfolders check box.

Changing or Deleting a File Rule

You can easily change or delete a file rule by following these steps:

  1. Right-click the appropriate volume and click Include/Exclude Rules

  2. To edit a rule, click the rule you want to edit and click Edit, then change the settings and click OK

  3. You can delete a rule, select the rule and click Remove, then click OK.

Changing the Priority of File Rules

To change the priority of file rules, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the applicable volume, then click Include/Exclude Rules.

  2. On the Include/Exclude tab, select the applicable rule.

  3. Click the Up or Down arrow to adjust the rule priority.

Adding or Removing Volumes for Management

Aside from creating and editing rules and rule management, you may also need to add new volumes that you would like remote storage to manage from time to time. This is an easy task and one that you can perform at any time after you run the remote storage setup wizard. Remember that you may need to adjust the file criteria and rules for that volume. To add the new volume, double-click remote storage in the console tree and right-click Managed Volumes. Point to New, then click Managed Volumes. Follow the instructions that appear in the Add Volume Wizard.

You can also remove volumes from remote storage management as needed. In this case, you either keep the remote files in storage and allow remote storage to recall them as necessary. Remote storage simply does not continue to manage the volume and remove files to remote storage any longer. Or you can have all the volume's data in remote storage moved back to the volume. To perform this action, right-click the appropriate volume and click Remove. Follow the wizard's instructions to determine what Remote Storage should do with the stored volume files.

Setting Free Space

You determine how you want remote storage to respond to storage conditions of the volume. Once the volume drops below an amount of free space that you specify, remote storage automatically begins deleting cached data from files that have already been copied to remote storage. This way, remote storage can manage the volume by keeping the amount of free space desired available. You can adjust the free space setting on a volume by right-clicking the applicable volume and clicking Settings. Then, on the Settings tab in Desired Free Space, click the Up or Down arrow to increase or decrease the free space value. You can also create free space immediately if it is needed. This action tells remote storage to remove all cached data from the volume, which creates immediate free space. To perform this, right-click the applicable volume, click Tasks, then click Create Free Space.

Setting the Runaway Recall Limit

The Runaway recall limit is the maximum number of successive file recalls a user can make on a file during the same session. Once a user makes a file recall, if the user requests another recall within 10 seconds, the count is increased. This causes the file to be copied back to the managed volume and moved out of remote storage. The runaway recall limit stops this from occurring by limiting the number of successive recalls a user can make with less than 10 seconds between each recall. Therefore, the file remains in remote storage but is still accessible. To set the runaway recall limit, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click Remote Storage in the console tree and click Properties.

  2. On the Recall Limit tab, change the value in Maximum number of successive recalls by clicking the Up or Down arrows.

  3. To exclude users with administrative permissions from the limit, click the Exempt administrators from this limit check box.

Setting Validation

Validation in remote storage means that the data stored in the remote storage media correctly points to the correct file on the managed volume. Validation is automatically performed two hours after a backup program is used to restore a file, and validation can also detect whether a file has moved from one volume to another. Validation should be performed on a regular basis, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to use validation with Windows 2000 Scheduled Tasks. To manually validate a volume, right-click the appropriate volume, point to All Tasks, and then click Validate Files.

Changing the File Copy Schedule

You can change remote storage's default schedule used to copy files, which was initially created during set-up. To change the schedule, follow these steps:

  1. In the console tree, right click Remote Storage and click Change Schedule.

  2. In the Remote Storage File Copy Schedule dialog box, click the arrow in Schedule Task, and click an interval.

  3. In Start time, set the start time using the Up or Down arrows.

  4. In Schedule Tasks Daily change the value in Every by clicking the Up or Down arrow.

In a case where you need to copy files without waiting for the scheduled time, right-click the appropriate volume and click Copy Files to Remote Storage.

Managing Media

In addition to setting up and managing Remote Storage so that it functions in an appropriate manner to meet your needs, there are a few actions concerning the management of the remote storage media you may need to perform. Remote storage supports all SCSI class 4mm, 8mm, and DLT tape libraries. All libraries used by remote storage exist in a single media application pool which is created during remote storage set-up. This media is used for all storage procedures.

For fault tolerance, you should consider creating copies of the media so that your stored files can be recalled should there be a problem with the media master set. Remote storage can automatically create copies of the media master set, called media copy sets, so you have redundant copies at all times. This process can occur only if there are two or more drives in the tape libraryÑone functions as the media master while the other functions as the media copy. You can also use additional drives to create additional copies if desired. To adjust the number of media copies you would like to create, right-click Remote Storage and click Properties. On the Media Copies tab, adjust the Number of media copy sets value by using the Up or Down arrow. In the case of a failure or corruption with the media master, the data can be recreated using a media copy. To recreate the media master, right-click on Remote Storage and click Media. In the details pane, right-click one of the media shown and click Properties. Click the Recovery tab and click Re-create Master. Follow the wizard that appears.

Finally, if you are using a media master and media copy sets, synchronization of the two should be performed regularly so that the copy always accurately reflects the master. To synchronize the media copies, right-click Media in the console tree and click Synchronize Copies Now. Follow the wizard that appears.

Using Removable Storage

As mentioned earlier in the chapter, removable storage allows you to store data on removable disks such as Zip disks and CD-ROMs. Removable storage can use jukeboxes or individual media drives, which can be grouped together in media pools. Removable storage functions by configuring libraries to keep track of the location data stored. Even if, for example, a Zip disk is removed and put in another physical location, the library is still aware of that disk and data on it.

Configuring and Managing Libraries

Removable storage automatically configures all libraries whenever you add or remove a library, but Removable Storage allows you complete control over library management. The following sections show you how to manage and configure these options.

Enabling or Disabling a Library or Drive

  1. You can easily enable or disable a library by following these steps

  2. Expand Removable Storage in the Remote Storage Management Console.

  3. In the Console Tree, double-click Physical Locations.

  4. Right-click the library you want to enable or disable and click Properties

  5. On the General tab of the Properties sheet, click the Enable library check box to enable it, or clear the box to disable it.

To enable or disable a drive, follow these steps:

  1. Expand Removable Storage, expand Physical Locations, expand the library you want to enable or disable, and select Drives.

  2. In the details pane, right-click the drive and click Properties, shown in Figure 8.1.

  3. On the General Property sheet, click the Enable Drive check box to enable the drive, or clear it to disable the drive.

    Bb742371.simm801(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 8.1: Drive Properties

Changing Media Types

To change a media type, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click Physical Locations.

  2. Right-click the library you want to change and click Properties.

  3. Click the Media Property sheet and click Change.

  4. In the Change Media Types dialog box, you can add a new media type by selecting the entry in Available types and clicking Add, or you can remove an existing media by clicking Remove in Selected Types, shown in Figure 8.2.

    Bb742371.sim802(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 8.2: Changing Media Types

Creating a Library Inventory

Removable storage allows you to create either a Fast Inventory or a Full Inventory of all media in a library. A Fast Inventory is created by reading bar codes if a bar-code reader is present, or by checking slots that have changed status from either occupied or unoccupied. A Full Inventory is performed when removable storage mounts each media in the library and reads the identifier. To create a library inventory, simply double-click Physical Locations and right-click the library you want to inventory, then click Inventory.

If you want to change the inventory method from Fast to Full or vice versa, right-click the library and click Properties. On the General Property sheet, select None, Fast, or Full.

Cleaning Libraries

Removable storage can manage the cleaning of both standalone drives and robotic libraries. In this design, the robotic library can contain one cleaner cartridge, which removable storage can use to periodically clean the drive. If this is done, removable storage keeps a count of the number of times the cleaner cartridge is used and will generate an operator request when the cartridge needs to be replaced. For a standalone drive, you must manually insert a cleaner cartridge, then click Drives and in results pane, right-click the drive and click Mark as Clean. This action tells removable storage that the drive has been cleaned, so it can keep a record of the cleaning. To clean a robotic library, right-click on the library you want to clean and click Cleaner Management, then follow the instructions in the Cleaner Management Wizard. The wizard will prompt you to insert a cleaner cartridge, and you should always use the wizard to insert a cleaner cartridge.

Configuring Media Pools

Once you have configured your libraries, you need to configure your media pools so they function in an organized manner and are appropriate for the needs of your environment. The following sections show you how to perform various tasks in order to configure your media pools.

Creating or Deleting a New Media Pool

To create a new media pool, follow these steps:

  1. In the console tree, right-click Media Pools and click Create Media Pool. If you want to create another media pool within a media pool, right-click the media pool and click Create Media Pool.

  2. Type a name and description on the General page.

  3. Click the Contains Media of Type radio button, then select the media from the drop-down menu as shown in Figure 8.3.

    Bb742371.sim0803(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 8.3: Media Pool Properties
  4. In the Allocation/Deallocation policy, choose the Draw media from free media pool check box if desired, or choose automatically return media to free media pool when no longer needed by clicking the Return media to free media pool check box, or choose both if desired.

  5. To set an allocation limit for the media in the media pool, click the Limit reallocations check box and adjust the value as desired.

If you want to delete an application media pool, simply right-click it and choose delete. You cannot delete the free, import, or unrecognized media pools.

Configuring and ManagingPhysical Media

Removable storage allows you to completely manage and control tapes and disks in your libraries. Once you create and configure various media pools as needed, you move media into a specific media pool, but you do need to leave enough media in the free media pool so that it can be used by applications as needed.

A tape or a disk can be inserted or ejected from a robotic library using either a library door or an insert/eject port. A library door gives you unrestricted access to the media in the library while an insert/eject port allows you controlled access by inserting or ejecting the media through a port. The library then uses a transport to move the media to a storage slot. Additionally, you have full control in terms of disk mounting and dismounting, and the same media can be mounted or dismounted many times before it is deallocated.

The following sections will show the control options to manage your media.

Inserting, Ejecting, or Mounting a tape or disk

To insert a tape or disk into a robotic library, double-click on Physical Locations, then right-click the appropriate library, then click Inject. Follow the Media Inject Wizard to insert the new tape or disk. To insert a tape into a standalone drive, manually insert the tape.

To eject a tape or disk from standalone drive, right-click the appropriate library in Physical locations and click Eject. To eject a tape or disk from a robotic library, in the console tree, expand Physical Locations, expand the appropriate library, then select Media. In the right pane, right-click the tape or disk you want to eject and click Eject.

To mount a tape or disk, navigate once again to media, then in the right pane, right-click the tape or disk you want to mount and click Mount. To dismount from a standalone drive, perform the same steps but click Dismount. To dismount a tape or disk in a robotic library, navigate to Physical Storage, Physical Locations, the appropriate library, Drives. In the right pane, right-click the drive you want to dismount the tape or disk and click Dismount.

Configuring Queued Work and Operator Requests

In remote storage, the work queue provides a list of all requests made to the library from an application or remote storage. If you expand removable storage in the console tree and click on Work Queue in the list, you will see a list of operations that have been performed at the state of that operation, as shown in Figure 8.4.

Bb742371.sim0804(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 8.4: Work Queue

The work queue can display five different states for the operation:

  • Completed: the operation has been completed successfully.

  • Failed: the operation request has failed.

  • In Process: the operation is currently being completed.

  • Queued: the operation has been requested and is waiting for Remote Storage to examine the request.

  • Waiting: the operation is waiting for service by Remote Storage.

The Queued Work Properties sheet, which can be accessed by right-clicking Queued Work and selecting Properties, simply allows you to automatically delete completed requests and specify whether or not you want to keep or delete failed requests. By default, the requests are deleted after one hour, but you can change that by selecting the amount of time you want in the dialog box, shown in Figure 8.5.

Bb742371.sim0805(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 8.5: Work Queue Properties

You can also right-click any operation in the list and click Properties to find out more information about the operation, when it was completed, or who initiated the request. Also, you can re-order the work queue item by right-clicking it and choosing Re-order Mounts. This allows you to move the item to the front or end of the work queue. You can also cancel an operation request by right-clicking the request and clicking Cancel Request.

A related topic to the work queue is Operator Requests. An operator request is a message that requests that some task or action can be completed. Remote storage or remote storage aware programs can generate operator requests when an application begins a mount request for a medium that is offline, a library fails, there are no available media online, or a drive needs cleaning but usable cleaner cartridges are not available.

You can complete or refuse an operator request as desired, and if you refuse a request that was generated by a remote storage aware application, remote storage will notify the application that the request has been refused. The Operator Requests icon appears in the Removable Storage console tree, and the following sections show you to manage operator requests.

Responding to an Operator Request

To respond to an operator request, follow these steps:

  1. In the console tree, double-click Operator Requests.

  2. In the right pane, double-click the request you want to answer.

  3. In the Operator Request dialog box, click Complete to complete the request, then perform the requested action, or to refuse, click Refuse. This cancels the request.

Deleting Operator Requests

You can delete an operator request by right-clicking on Operator Requests and clicking Properties. This gives you the same kind of properties sheet as the Queued Work. To adjust how the operator requests are deleted, adjust what is deleted and how long it should be kept by clicking the appropriate radio buttons.

Changing Operator Requests Display

You can change how operator requests are displayed by following these steps:

  1. Right-click Removable Storage in the console and click Properties.

  2. On the General Property sheet, you have two check boxes, as shown in Figure 8.6. You can choose to send the operator requests to the Messenger service so that they are displayed in a pop-up window, and you can choose to tray icon for pending operator requests, which displays an icon on the taskbar for requests that are waiting to be serviced. Click the selections you want to use.

    Bb742371.sim806(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 8.6: Removable Storage Properties

Configuring Removable Storage Security

You can easily configure Removable Storage security by right-clicking Removable Storage in the console tree, clicking Properties, then clicking the Security tab, shown in Figure 8.7.

Bb742371.sim807(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 8.7: Security Tab

You can further refine security by configuring this same interface for each library. Simply right-click on the library and choose Properties, then choose the Security Property sheet. In this way, you can allow one user certain rights to one library and restrict rights to others.

By default, members of the System and Administrators Group have Use, Modify, and Control permissions, Backup Operators have Use and Modify permissions, and Users have Use permission. You can change these default settings as needed, and you can click the Add button to specify individual user settings or add new groups. As with any user access permissions and security, careful consideration should be made before implementing a security plan for remote storage.

Using Removable Storage Command Line

As with many other Windows 2000 components, you have the option of administering removable storage at the command line. This feature allows you to write batch scripts for applications that do not support the removable storage API. The command line syntax is

rsm {allocate|deallocate|deletemedia|dismount|help|mount|view}

Each command has its own argument switches that can be used in conjunction with the command. You should keep in mind that no spaces are allowed after an argument switch or in the names or information following a switch. Also, all commands are case sensitive and you can use only one command at a time. The following sections explain the argument switches that can be used with each command.

Allocate

The Allocate command allows you to allocate media to a particular media pool. The argument switches for the allocate command are as follows::

  • /m: media pool name

  • /n: logical media name (optional)

  • /p: media side to allocate (optional)

  • /t: time-out value (optional)

The syntax for the allocate command is:

rsm allocate /mmediapoolname [/ppartid /nlogicalname /ttimeout]

Deallocate

You can use the deallocate command to deallocate media from a media pool. The deallocate command has the following argument switches:

  • /l: Logical media ID (if the /n switch was used when the media was allocated, it can be reused here in place of the logical media ID)

  • /n: Logical media name

The syntax for the deallocate command is:

rsm deallocate /llogicalmediaid /nlogicalmedianame

Deletemedia

The deletemedia command allows you to delete data on the tape or disk from the removable storage database. The deletemedia command has the following argument switches:

  • /p: The physical media ID

  • /n: The physical media name

The syntax for the deletemedia command is:

rsm delemedia /pphysicalnameid /nphysicalmedianame

Dismount

The dismount command is used to dismount the medium from a drive. The logical media name can be used to specify the logical medium if it was assigned during the allocate command using the /n switch. If not, then the logical media ID must be used. The /l and /n argument switches are used with the dismount command, and the syntax is as follows:

rsm dismount /llogicalmediaid /nphysicalmedianame

Mount

The mount command allows you to mount a medium on a drive and is specified by the /l or /n switch. The mount command also contains the following optional switches:

  • /d: Drive ID (if you do not assign this, Removable Storage assigns a drive)

  • /p: Priority from 1 to 100, which specifies the drive-mount priority

  • /t: Time-out value

The syntax for the mount command is:

rsm mount /llogicalmediaid /nlogicalmedianame [/ddriveid /ppriority /ttimeout]

Help

The help command allows you to get argument switch and syntax information for each command. The syntax for the help command is:

Rsm help {allocate | deallocate | dismount | mount | view |rsm}

View

The view command displays a list of media pools or a list of logical media. The view command contains the following argument switches:

  • /c: Object type, such as media poo

  • /I: Object ID

The syntax for the view command is:

rsm view /cobjecttype /iobjectid

Summary

Remote and removable storage in Windows 2000 Server provides you with advanced storage solutions that allow you to conserve local disk space. Through remote storage's caching features, you can remotely store information as though it were located on your local volumes, and removable storage allows you to utilize removable tape and disk solutions through the use of libraries. Both of these solutions help you manage storage and access to stored information.

About the Author

CURT SIMMONS has been working closely with Windows 2000 Server since Beta 1. An author and technical trainer specializing in Microsoft operating systems, BackOffice products, and Internet technologies, he has written nearly a dozen technical books and training manuals. Simmons is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) based in Dallas, TX.

© Prentice-Hall, Inc. 2000

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