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Scheduled Backups

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How to Schedule an Unattended Backup

Scheduled backups with Firestreamer-RM and the Microsoft Backup Utility are incredibly easy. The Firestreamer-RM Wrapper is a utility that automatically prepares the media, launches the Microsoft Backup Utility, parses the Backup Utility's log file to ensure the backup succeeded, and notifies you about the results by email.

To schedule an unattended backup with the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Backup Utility.
  2. Select the items to back up.
  3. Select IBM 3480 as the backup type and New as the media you want to use.
  4. On the Completing the Backup or Restore Wizard page, click Advanced.
  5. Specify the advanced options as required; leave Backup label and Media label as is.
  6. Specify Job name (for example, Test Backup) and set Schedule as required. It is recommended that you use only alphanumeric characters and underscores (_) in the job name; otherwise, the Microsoft Backup Utility may fail while executing the scheduled task.
  7. Click Finish to save the task.
  8. Open the Firestreamer-RM Control Panel.
  9. Click the Schedule tab.
  10. Double-click the name of the newly created backup task (Test Backup).
  11. On the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper tab, click Add Wrapper.
  12. Follow the pages to specify the task settings as required. You can press F1 on your keyboard at any time to get immediate help.
  13. Click Finish to save the changes.
  14. Click Open Scheduled Tasks.
  15. Right-click the name of the task (Test Backup), and then click Run to test the task.

IMPORTANT:

  • Do not click any buttons on the Backup Utility's messages prompting for media, as this may cause the scheduled task to fail.
  • A scheduled Firestreamer-RM Wrapper task takes at least five minutes to complete. Please be patient.
  • You do not need to manually prepare media for scheduled backup tasks. The Firestreamer-RM Wrapper will do this for you.
  • You can have no more than one scheduled backup task running at any given time.
  • A file media based task can use only new file media; it cannot append to an existing .fsrm file. This limitation is intended to simplify media management.

See also:

Backup Tasks Report

The Backup Tasks Report displays the status of scheduled Firestreamer-RM Wrapper tasks for the last 30 days. To view the report, open the Firestreamer-RM Control Panel, click the Schedule tab, and then click View Report..

You can change the report date range from the default 30 to any value between 1 to 180 days by setting the MaxLogAgeDays value (DWORD) under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Cristalink\Firestreamer-RM\CurrentVersion registry key. You have to restart the Firestreamer-RM Control Panel after changing the registry. Any records outside the specified date range are automatically deleted.

IMPORTANT: To view the report, you need a web browser that supports XML, CSS and XSLT 1.0, for example, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or newer.

Prolog and Epilog Scripts

The Firestreamer-RM Wrapper allows execution of custom scripts at the beginning (Prolog) and end (Epilog) of a scheduled backup task. The Wrapper checks the exit status of the scripts, and if a script has a non-zero status, the whole backup task is assumed to have failed. The Prolog script is not executed if the backup task completes with E903. The Epilog script is always executed.

The Prolog script may be used, for example, for the following purposes:

  • To execute an SQL script to back up a Microsoft SQL Server database to a file. The resulting file may then be backed up by the main backup task.
  • To override the default file name for Firestreamer-RM file media.
  • To perform any other actions required to prepare the backup task.

The Firestreamer-RM Wrapper sets the following environment variables before executing the Prolog script:

FSRMTASK_JOBNAME The NTBackup job name. This is the name passed to NTBackup via the /J command line parameter.
FSRMTASK_RESULT The script result file name.
FSRMTASK_RANDOM A random text string which may be used to create names for temporary files. The same string is passed to the Epilog script.
FSRMTASK_FOLDER The destination folder for Firestreamer-RM file media (applicable to file media tasks only).

The Epilog script may be used, for example, for the following purposes:

  • To upload Firestreamer-RM file media to a remote backup server.
  • To send custom notifications.
  • To perform any other actions required to finalize the backup task.

The Firestreamer-RM Wrapper sets the following environment variables before executing the Epilog script:

FSRMTASK_JOBNAME The NTBackup job name. This is the name passed to NTBackup via the /J command line parameter.
FSRMTASK_RESULT The script result file name.
FSRMTASK_RANDOM A random text string which may be used to create names for temporary files. The same string is passed to the Prolog script.
FSRMTASK_FOLDER The destination folder for Firestreamer-RM file media (applicable to file media tasks only).
FSRMTASK_FILEMEDIA The full path and file name of Firestreamer-RM file media (applicable to file media tasks only).
FSRMTASK_BACKUPNAME The backup set name.
FSRMTASK_MEDIANAME The backup media name.
FSRMTASK_FSLOG The file name of the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper log.
FSRMTASK_NTBLOG The file name of the NTBackup log.
FSRMTASK_STATUS The current status of the backup task: ok, warning or error.

The Prolog and Epilog scripts can pass certain information back to the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper via a temporary file called the script result file. The name of this file is specified by the FSRMTASK_RESULTS environment variable set by the Wrapper. The format of the script result file is as follows:

   [Result]
   message=Custom text message
   status=Script status
   file=File media name
message Specifies a custom text message to appear as M104 in the Backup Tasks Report and Firestreamer-RM Wrapper log file. You can have multiple message statements in the same script result file.
status Specifies the script status: ok, warning or error. The script status affects the status of the whole backup task. If status is not specified, the script is assumed to have succeeded, provided it has the exit status of 0.
file Specifies the file name for Firestreamer-RM file media. By default, the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper uses the backup media name with the .fsrm extension in the destination folder. This option can only be used in prolog scripts for file media tasks.

See also prolog and epilog script samples.

Log Files

The Firestreamer-RM Wrapper creates a detailed log file for every scheduled task. The wrapper also makes a copy of the NTBackup log file, to make sure the file will not be overwritten by other tasks. All the log files are easily accessible via the Backup Tasks Report. Old log files are deleted automatically along with the expired report records.

The log files are usually located in the C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Cristalink\Firestreamer-RM\Logs folder. To find out the name of a particular log file, right-click the appropriate View Log link in the Backup Task Report, and then click Properties. If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, the file name is displayed in the Address (URL) textbox. You may need to select the file name with the mouse to view the entire name. To copy a log file to a different location, right-click the appropriate View Log link in the Backup Task Report, and then click Save Target As.

A Firestreamer-RM Wrapper log file record has the following format, where A is a timestamp; B is the message severity level (Information, Warning or Error); C is information for technical support staff; and D is the message text.

NTBackup Log Parser

It is impossible to reliably determine the status of an unattended backup task by checking the return code of the Microsoft Backup Utility, as the latter returns invalid and inconsistent return codes. Moreover, NTBackup log files do not have a consistent format either, which makes them difficult to parse.

Firestreamer-RM provides a special utility, called VerifyReport.wsf, which determines the final status of a backup task by analyzing the NTBackup log file. The utility is written in VBScript and utilizes the Windows Scripting Host technology. You can modify the source code of the utility to suit your needs, for example, if you use a localized version of Windows.

VerifyReport.wsf is usually located in the C:\Program Files\Cristalink\Firestreamer-RM folder. If you modify the source code of the utility, you also need to remove the digital signature from the file, as any change to the file invalidates the signature.

ASR Backups

You can convert a backup task to an ASR backup by selecting the ASR backup option on the NTBackup Parameters page while configuring the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper settings for the task.

IMPORTANT:

  • The ASR backup option uses an undocumented command line parameter of the Microsoft Backup Utility, as scheduled ASR backups do not seem to be documented or supported by Microsoft.
  • The floppy disk drive of your computer must have a blank formatted ASR diskette inserted at the time of the backup. If the diskette is not present, the Backup Utility may get stuck displaying an invisible error message. If this happens, you will need to either cancel the task or end the ntbackup.exe process via the Task Manager.
  • Before running the Backup Utility in the ASR mode, the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper checks the availability of the ASR diskette and deletes old ASR files on it. This allows you to use the same diskette for several scheduled ASR backups. Of course, the diskette will only match the latest ASR backup set. If you need an ASR diskette for an older backup, you can always create one from the ASR backup set.

User Account

Usually, you run scheduled backup tasks under either an administrative or Local System (NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM) account. If you need to run a scheduled task under a non-administrative account, consider the following.

  • If you create a backup task for an account that differs from the one you are currently logged on under, set appropriate permissions on the backup script file. For example, if you are logged on as Administrator and used the Backup Utility's Wizard to create a backup task named MyBackupTask for a member of the Backup Operators group, allow Backup Operators to access the C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows NT\NTBackup\data\MyBackupTask.bks file.
  • Make sure the account has sufficient privileges to access the items to be backed up, in particular, can clear the Archive attribute on the files and folders.
  • Make sure the account has sufficient privileges to access Firestreamer-RM and Removable Storage objects.

To set appropriate permissions on Firestreamer-RM and Removable Storage objects, follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Type in the following command, where BackupAccountName is the user or group name the backup task will run under, for example, Backup Operators:
    "C:\Program Files\Cristalink\Firestreamer-RM\FirestreamerRm.exe" -BackupAccount="BackupAccountName"
  3. Click OK.
  4. Wait until the program has finished applying permissions.
  5. Restart your computer.

The above procedure will grant the specified user or group read and write access to the following objects:

  • Folder: C:\Program Files\Cristalink\Firestreamer-RM.
  • Folder: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Cristalink\Firestreamer-RM.
  • Registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Cristalink\Firestreamer-RM.
  • Removable Storage Manager.
  • All Removable Storage libraries.
  • All Removable Storage media pools.

Troubleshooting a Scheduled Task

To troubleshoot a failed scheduled task, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Firestreamer-RM Control Panel.
  2. Click the Schedule tab.
  3. Click Open Scheduled Tasks.
  4. Find the task name in the list.
  5. Make sure the task has started at the expected time by checking the Last Run Time and Status columns.
  6. If the task failed to start, click Advanced on the top menu of Scheduled Tasks, and then click View Log to determine the reason of the failure.
  7. If the task started, click View Report on the Schedule tab of the Firestreamer-RM Control Panel.
  8. Find the task name at the top of the report. If you cannot find the task name, make sure the user account used for the task has sufficient privileges.
  9. Examine the Firestreamer-RM Wrapper and NTBackup log files to determine the reason of the failure.

See also Troubleshooting.

Cancelling a Running Backup Task

From time to time, you may need to cancel a running scheduled backup task. This may be problematic if the task is running invisibly in the background, and Windows Task Manager fails to end the task due to the access denied error.

To cancel a running Firestreamer-RM Wrapper task, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Firestreamer-RM Control Panel.
  2. Click the Schedule tab.
  3. Right-click the Scheduled backup tasks list.
  4. Click Cancel All Running Tasks.

WARNING: If the current media is of the write once type (for example, DVD+R), it may become unusable.

See Also

For more information, see the following articles.

 

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