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Protect Data on Remote SMB File Shares using VSS

Published: August 24, 2012

Updated: October 31, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012



In Windows Server 2012, a new feature is introduced called VSS for SMB File Shares, which allows VSS-aware backup applications to create a volume shadow copy of VSS-aware server applications that store data on remote SMB 3.0 file shares. This guide provides information on how to perform backups of server applications using this feature, and therefore, protect your data.

In this document

noteNote
This topic includes sample Windows PowerShell cmdlets that you can use to automate some of the procedures described. For more information, see Using Cmdlets.

VSS for SMB File Shares is an extension to the existing VSS infrastructure and consists of four parts:

  • File Share Shadow Copy Provider (fssprov.dll). This is a new VSS provider on the server running the VSS-aware application. It manages shadow copies on remote Universal Naming Convention (UNC) paths where the application stores its data files, and then relays the shadow copy request to the File Share Shadow Copy Agents. Enhancements to the VSS infrastructure to support the File Share Shadow Copy Provider include updates to the API.

  • File Share Shadow Copy Agent (fssagent.dll). This is a new VSS requester on the file server hosting the SMB 3.0 file shares (using an UNC path) that store the application’s data files. It manages mappings between file shares and volumes, and also interacts with the file server’s VSS infrastructure to perform shadow copies of the volumes that backup the SMB 3.0 file shares (where the VSS-aware applications stores their data).

  • File Server Remote VSS Protocol (MSFSRVP). The File Share Shadow Copy Provider and the File Share Shadow Copy Agent use this new RPC-based protocol to coordinate shadow copy requests of data stored on SMB file shares.

The requirements for using VSS for SMB File Shares are listed below.

  • The application server and file server must be running Windows Server 2012.

  • The application server and file server must be joined to the same Active Directory domain.

  • The File Server VSS Agent Service role service must be installed on the file server.

  • The File Share Shadow Copy agent must run in a security environment that has backup operators or administrator privileges on both the application server and file server.

  • The File Share Shadow Copy agent and the application must run in a security environment that has no less than read-only permission on the file share data that will be backed up.

noteNote
VSS for SMB File Shares also works with third-party Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliances or other similar solutions. These appliances or solutions must support SMB 3.0 and File Server Remote VSS Protocols.

VSS for SMB File Shares supports the following configurations:

  • An application server configured as a single server or in a failover cluster.

  • A file server configured as a single server or in a failover cluster with continuously available or scale-out file shares.

  • File shares with a single DFS Namespaces link target.

VSS for SMB File Shares has the following limitations:

  • Unsupported VSS capabilities, such as: hardware transferrable shadow copies, writable shadow copies, VSS fast recovery where a volume can quickly revert to a shadow copy, and client-accessible shadow copies (Shadow Copy of Shared Folders).

  • Loopback configurations where an application server accesses its data on SMB file shares that are hosted on the same application server.

  • Shadow copies of Hyper-V virtual machines, where the application for which the virtual machine stores its data on SMB file shares is not supported.

  • Data on mounted drives that are below the root of the file share are not included in the shadow copy.

  • Shadow copies of file shares that do not support failover clustering.

VSS for SMB File Shares is most commonly deployed with Hyper-V, where a server running Hyper-V stores the virtual machine files on remote SMB file share. Some example deployments are described below.

Single server running Hyper-V and single file server

In this scenario, there is a single, non-clustered server running Hyper-V and a single, non-clustered file server. As shown in the diagram below, the file server has two volumes attached to it, with a file share on each volume. The virtual machine files for VM A are stored on \\fileserv\share1, which is backed by Volume 1. For VM B, some of the virtual machine files are stored on \\fileserv\share1, and some are stored on \\fileserv\share2, which is backed by Volume 2. The virtual machine files for VM C are stored on \\fileserv\share2.

Single Hyper-V server and a single file server

When a backup operator performs a shadow copy of VM A, the Hyper-V VSS writer adds \\fileserv\share1 to the shadow copy set. When ready, the File Share Shadow Copy Provider sends the shadow copy request to \\fileserv. On the file server, the File Share Shadow Copy Agent invokes the local VSS service to perform a shadow copy of Volume 1. Volume 2 is not part of the shadow copy set since only \\fileserv\share1 was reported by the VSS writer. When the shadow copy sequence is complete, a shadow copy share \\fileserv\share1@{GUID} is available for the backup application to move the backup data. When the backup is complete, the backup application releases the shadow copy set, and the associated shadow copies and shadow copy shares are removed.

If the backup operator performs a shadow copy of VM B, the Hyper-V VSS writer reports both \\fileserv\share1 and \\fileserv\share2 in the shadow copy set. On the file server, this results in a shadow copy of both Volume 1 and Volume 2, and two shadow copy shares \\fileserv\share1@{GUID} and \\fileserv\share2@{GUID} are created.

If the backup operator performs a shadow copy of VM A and VM B, the Hyper-V VSS writer reports both \\fileserv\share1 and \\fileserv\share2 in the shadow copy set. On the file server, a shadow copy of both volumes is generated and two shadow copy shares are created.

Two servers running Hyper-V and a file server cluster

In this scenario, there are two servers running Hyper-V and a file server cluster. As shown in the diagram below, the file server cluster has two cluster nodes, node1 and node2. The file server cluster, \\fs1, is currently online on node1, with a single share, \\fs1\share, on Volume 1. To use both cluster nodes, a second file server cluster, \\fs2, is configured and is currently online on node2, with a single share, \\fs2\share, on Volume 2.

Two Hyper-V servers and a file server cluster

When the backup operator performs a shadow copy of VM A, the Hyper-V VSS writer reports \\fs1\share in the shadow copy set. When ready, the File Share Shadow Copy Provider sends a shadow copy request to \\fs1. As part of the exchange between the File Share Shadow Copy Provider and the File Share Shadow Copy Agent, the agent notifies the provider of the physical computer name, node1, which is actually performing the shadow copy.

On node1, the File Share Shadow Copy Agent calls the local VSS service to perform a shadow copy of the volume that backs the file share. When the shadow copy sequence is complete, a shadow copy share \\node1\share@{GUID} is available for the backup application to stream the backup data. Note the shadow copy share, \\node1\share@{GUID}, is targeted to the cluster node, node1, and not the virtual computer name, \\fs1.

Once the backup is complete, the backup application releases the shadow copy set and the associated shadow copies and shadow copy shares are removed. If the file server cluster moves to, or fails over to, node2 before the backup sequence is complete, the shadow copy share and the shadow copy become invalid. If the file server cluster moves back to node1, the shadow copy and the corresponding shadow copy share will become valid again.

Use one of the following procedures to install File Server VSS Agent Service.

  1. From the Add Roles and Features Wizard, under Server Roles, select File and Storage Services if it has not already been installed.

  2. Under File and iSCSI Services, select File Server and File Server VSS Agent Service.

  3. On the Select Features page, click Next.

  4. On the Confirmation page, verify that File Server and File Server VSS Agent Service are listed, and then click Install.

The next part of Step 1 is where you include the Windows PowerShell equivalent to the GUI procedure. Delete this part if there is no PowerShell equivalent.

PowerShell Logo Windows PowerShell equivalent commands

The following Windows PowerShell cmdlet or cmdlets perform the same function as the preceding procedure. Enter each cmdlet on a single line, even though they may appear word-wrapped across several lines here because of formatting constraints.

Provide the Windows PowerShell code for the procedure. For example:

PS C:\> Import-Module ServerManager
PS C:\> Add-WindowsFeature -name File-Services,FS-VSS-Agent

The user who is performing the shadow copy must have the backup administrative privileges on the remote file servers that are included in the shadow copy set. Usually, this is accomplished by adding the user to the Backup Operators group on the file servers. Use one of the following procedures to do this.

  1. From the dashboard in Server Manager, click Tools, and then click Computer Management.

  2. In Computer Management, expand Local Users and Groups, and then expand Groups.

  3. Double-click Backup Operators.

  4. On the Backup Operators Properties page, click Add.

  5. Type of the name of the user you want to add to the Backup Operators group, and click OK.

PowerShell Logo Windows PowerShell equivalent commands

The following Windows PowerShell cmdlet or cmdlets perform the same function as the preceding procedure. Enter each cmdlet on a single line, even though they may appear word-wrapped across several lines here because of formatting constraints.

In the example below, modify the user account and the name of the file server to apply to your environment.

$objUser = [ADSI]("WinNT://domain/user")
$objGroup = [ADSI]("WinNT://fileserv/Backup Operators")
$objGroup.PSBase.Invoke("Add",$objUser.PSBase.Path)

You must have a VSS-aware backup application that supports VSS for SMB File Shares to perform a shadow copy of an application’s data that is stored on a remote file share.

noteNote
Windows Server Backup in Windows Server 2012 or in Windows Server 2012 R2 does not support VSS for SMB File Shares.

This section contains examples of performing a shadow copy of a virtual machine that has its data files stored on an SMB file share using DiskShadow.exe (a tool that exposes the functionality offered by VSS), and Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 Service Pack 1. For information on how to backup and protect data using Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1, see Managing Hyper-V computers.

To perform a shadow copy of virtual machine on the Hyper-V host (HV1) using DiskShadow

  1. Start Windows PowerShell. Right-click the PowerShell icon on the taskbar, and select Run as Administrator.

    Run the following Windows PowerShell command:

    PS C:\Users\administrator> DISKSHADOW
    
  2. Type the following:

    
    DISKSHADOW> Writer Verify {66841cd4-6ded-4f4b-8f17-fd23f8ddc3de}
    DISKSHADOW> Set Context Persistent
    DISKSHADOW> Set MetaData vm1backup.cab
    DISKSHADOW> Begin Backup
    DISKSHADOW> Add Volume \\smbsofs\vm\vm1
    DISKSHADOW> Create
    
    
    The following output appears:

    Alias VSS_SHADOW_1 for shadow ID {7b53b887-76e5-4db8-821d-6828e4cbe044} set as environment variable.
    Alias VSS_SHADOW_SET for shadow set ID {2bef895d-5d3f-4799-8368-f4bfc684e95b} set as environment variable.
    Querying all shadow copies with the shadow copy set ID {2bef895d-5d3f-4799-8368-f4bfc684e95b}
    * Shadow copy ID = {7b53b887-76e5-4db8-821d-6828e4cbe044} %VSS_SHADOW_1%
    - Shadow copy set: {2bef895d-5d3f-4799-8368-f4bfc684e95b} %VSS_SHADOW_SET%
    - Original count of shadow copies = 1
    - Original volume name: \\SMBSOFS\VM\ [volume not on this machine]
    - Creation time: 5/30/2012 5:35:52 PM
    - Shadow copy device name: \\FSF-260403-09\VM@{F1C5E17A-4168-4611-9CD4-8366F9F935C3}
    - Originating machine: FSF-260403-09
    - Service machine: CONTOSO.SMBTEST.stbtest.microsoft.com
    - Not exposed
    - Provider ID: {89300202-3cec-4981-9171-19f59559e0f2}
    - Attributes: No_Auto_Release Persistent FileShare
    Number of shadow copies listed: 1
    
    Type the following to end the backup operation:

    DISKSHADOW> End Backup
    
    

In this example, the following command parameters are used:

Writer Verify. This parameter specifies that the backup or restore operation must fail if the writer or the component is not included. For more information, see Invoking diskshadow to back up a Virtual Machine from a Hyper-V Host.

Set Context Persistent. This parameter sets the shadow copy to be persistent, which means that the user or the application controls when to delete the shadow copy.

Set MetaData. This parameter stores the metadata information for the shadow copy (which is needed for restore) in the specified file.

Add Volume. This parameter adds the UNC path to the shadow copy set. You can specify multiple paths by repeating the Add Volume parameter.

Create. This parameter initiates the shadow copy. When the shadow copy is created, DiskShadow generates the properties of the shadow copy. The shadow Copy device name is the path for the shadow copy data, which can be copied to the backup store using XCOPY or other tools.

noteNote
During the backup session, you can see the virtual machine status reporting Backing up.. in Hyper-V Manager. The backup session starts with the Create parameter, and then ends with the End Backup command in the DiskShadow sequence above.

To copy the backup data to an alternate location

After the shadow copy is complete, you can view the shadow copy share (which is the shadow copy device name from above), and then copy the data you want to back up to an alternate location.

  1. Start Windows PowerShell. Right-click the PowerShell icon on the taskbar, and select Run as Administrator.

    Run the following Windows PowerShell command:

    PS C:\Users\administrator> Get-ChildItem -Recurse -Path "\\FSF-260403-09\VM@{F1C5E17A-4168-4611-9CD4-8366F9F935C3}"
    Directory: \\FSF-260403-09\VM@{F1C5E17A-4168-4611-9CD4-8366F9F935C3}
    Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
    ---- ------------- ------ ----
    d---- vm1
    Directory: \\FSF-260403-09\VM@{F1C5E17A-4168-4611-9CD4-8366F9F935C3}\vm1
    Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
    ---- ------------- ------ ----
    d---- vm1
    -a--- vm1.vhd
    Directory: \\FSF-260403-09\VM@{F1C5E17A-4168-4611-9CD4-8366F9F935C3}\vm1\vm1
    Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
    ---- ------------- ------ ----
    d---- Virtual Machines
    Directory: \\FSF-260403-09\VM@{F1C5E17A-4168-4611-9CD4-8366F9F935C3}\vm1\vm1\Virtual Machines
    Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
    ---- ------------- ------ ----
    d---- 87B27972-46C2-406B-87A4-C3FFA1FB6822
    -a--- 28800 87B27972-46C2-406B-87A4-C3FFA1FB6822.xml
    Directory: \\FSF-260403-09\VM@{F1C5E17A-4168-4611-9CD4-8366F9F935C3}\vm1\vm1\Virtual
    Machines\87B27972-46C2-406B-87A4-C3FFA1FB6822
    Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
    ---- ------------- ------ ----
    -a--- 2147602688 87B27972-46C2-406B-87A4-C3FFA1FB6822.bin
    -a--- 20971520 87B27972-46C2-406B-87A4-C3FFA1FB6822.vsv
    
    
  2.  

To delete the shadow copy

When the backup data is copied, you can delete the shadow copy.

  1. Start Windows PowerShell. Right-click the PowerShell icon on the taskbar, and select Run as Administrator.

    Run the following Windows PowerShell command:

    PS C:\Users\administrator> DISKSHADOW
    
  2. Type the following:

    DISKSHADOW> Delete Shadows Volume \\smbsofs\vm
    Deleting shadow copy {7b53b887-76e5-4db8-821d-6828e4cbe044} on volume \\SMBSOFS\VM\ from provider {89300202-3cec-4981-91
    71-19f59559e0f2} [Attributes: 0x04400009]...
    Number of shadow copies deleted: 1
    
    

To restore data from a shadow copy

  • Start Windows PowerShell. Right-click the PowerShell icon on the taskbar, and select Run as Administrator.

    Run the following Windows PowerShell command:

    PS C:\Users\administrator> DISKSHADOW
    DISKSHADOW> Set Context Persistent
    DISKSHADOW> Load MetaData vm1backup.cab
    DISKSHADOW> Begin Restore
    DISKSHADOW> //xcopy files from backup store to the original location
    DISKSHADOW> End Restore
    

The Load MetaData parameter loads the metadata information for the shadow copy to restore data from the specified file. After running the Begin Restore parameter, you can copy the virtual machine files from the backup store to the original location (\\smbsofs\vm\vm1). For more information, see this Microsoft TechNet blog.

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