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    Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up

    sprosser

      A third-party backup service hired by one of my clients says it's taking his servers 9+ hours to copy a single backup of the Client's database and remote container storage folder. He says their software finds the most recent folder, and backs it up, but says that the complexity of the tree structure makes the process inefficient.

       

      He wants his software to enter the terminal commands to stop the databases, take a VSS snapshot, then open the databases back up and copy on the snapshot instead of making copies of FileMaker's backups. I'm steeped enough in best practices to resist this, but am willing to allow it if one of you experts have done it with no problems. I'm not familiar with the Windows snapshot, and have no idea if this will create a safe backup for them to use. I would suppose that programmatically stopping the files should be safe enough, but I'm just not convinced about his analysis of why the backups are taking so long or if this is safe for the databases.

       

      Anybody have any experience with either running fmsadmin terminal commands to close databases with a batch file and/or with using a VSS as a backup? I suggested that we use Windows Task Manager to just move a set of files for him to grab, or that we make a separate nightly backup that keeps only a single copy of the file and remote containers, but he doesn't think either of those solutions will be fast enough for his liking.

        • 1. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
          wimdecorte

          It's not an unreasonable request.  The only way you can do a safe windows snapshot is by either pausing the FMS files or stopping it.  In this case I would choose to pause them instead of closing them because it does not require to cut off any connected clients.

           

          The only thing that they need to do in their code is to make absolutely certain that the pause command was successful before doing the snapshot.

          • 2. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
            worldcloud

            any time ome we do updates or changes on a system we take a VMWare snapshot and they don't take 9 hours and we don't pause the database server because the entire system gets paused. snapshot backups are great to disaster recovery because they backup the entire state of the system, but using something like Symantec backup exec is a good choice just to move your local backups to a remote server.

             

            windows server 2022 has a backup app, but didn't fit our needs exactly. If you are truly needing off-site snapshots cream seems to excel in that- With dedepulication.

             

            there's also the option of off-site progressive backups now as a standby server.

             

            would be happy to trade notes with you.

            • 3. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
              wimdecorte

              worldcloud wrote:

               

              we don't pause the database server because the entire system gets paused.

               

              If the purpose is to extract FM files from the snapshot then you do have to pause FMS itself.  Otherwise files extracted from the screenshot will be marked as "improperly closed" at a minimum and can be reported as corrupted.

              • 4. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                jaylkjr

                I have heard something like "We're from Microsoft and we're here to help you..." just before a database hosted on Server was corrupted...My recommendations would be to first, cover yourself and second make sure that you take precautions for FMS.  I worked at a company that got A new CTO that was not so sharp on that middle letter of his job... He installed a freeware backup program he got in the box of something for free on every server at the company. This was causing major issues until I discovered the issue.  As you describe above, it was taking 18-26 hours to back up and the processes were stacking.

                 

                I would do something like this:

                1. IN WRITING, notify your customer that there is a specific process necessary to back up a box running FileMaker server that must be followed, else the entire FMS database folder could be corrupted. This covers YOU and allows you some legal and business protection if an outside company screws things up.
                2. Set up a batch script to Pause the databases, on a schedule, or to be given to the backup company with explicit, in -writing instructions to run that batch prior to backup.
                3. Set up a nightly backup of the files on ANOTHER BOX or external drive that will not be touched by another company. If they kill the data files, you can easily fall back to a backup.
                4. Make sure your backup schedule is LONG and varied. I recommend a combination of backups that allows me a fallback if I find out that there was a corruption that started months ago. FileMaker corruption is sneaky and can quietly kill a file like cancer over months or years. I started a job 4-5 years ago and found huge corruption in the files, but they only had like 2 months of rolling backups. Those files had been running like zombies, getting progressively slower for years.

                 

                Good Luck!

                • 5. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                  wimdecorte

                  jaylkjr wrote:

                   

                   

                  1. Set up a batch script to Pause the databases, on a schedule, or to be given to the backup company with explicit, in -writing instructions to run that batch prior to backup.

                   

                  I don't think I would do it that way; I would expect them to roll the pause and all of its error checking and handling into their script.  Having a batch file that they can call is probably not going to give them the level of error handling that is required to make this safe.  Unless you go beyond a simple batch file and use something like VBscript or Powershell to do all the error checking, logging and alerting plus the ability to have an exit code that they can check and abort the snapshot.

                  • 6. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                    CarstenLevin

                    This might be a case of me misunderstanding the situation. But my suggestion:

                     

                    1. Have an extra disk* and let FileMaker Server make backup to this.
                    2. Let your backup service take backup from this disk.

                     

                    Now you do not need to stop the FileMaker server.

                     

                    Did I misunderstand something?

                     

                    Best regards Carsten

                     

                    *I have to admit, you do not need and extra disk, you could just use a folder on your server. But it is a good idea for performance reasons and even more for security. It is beautifull always to have a copy on another disk.

                    • 7. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                      wimdecorte

                      Carsten Levin wrote:

                       

                       

                      Did I misunderstand something?

                       

                       

                      I think so.  The starting premise was that the external backup just takes too long so they want to switch to using the built-in Windows snapshot mechanism.

                       

                      While you can take a snapshot while FMS is running you can never use the live hosted files that you extract from a snapshot.  You can safely extract one of the backups obviously.  But if snapshots are going to be a crucial part of the backup strategy you want to make sure that *all* files are safe to be extracted, including the live ones.

                      • 8. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                        CarstenLevin

                        Hi Wim,

                         

                        Would it be possible to take a snapshot of the extra disk or of the specific folder of the extra disk (with the FileMaker backup created by FileMaker Server)?

                         

                        Best regards

                         

                        Carsten

                        • 9. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                          wimdecorte

                          Carsten Levin wrote:

                           

                          Would it be possible to take a snapshot of the extra disk or of the specific folder of the extra disk (with the FileMaker backup created by FileMaker Server)?

                           

                          Sure.  But from there it is only a small step for someone to not realize that the live files that are also part of the snapshot are not safe.  And they would restore for that, and the first few times everything is ok (although the files will report as "improperly closed"), then all of sudden one of them will come back as corrupted and all hell breaks loose.... slippery slope.

                           

                          It's a very small step to include an FMS pause and make the whole thing safe.

                          • 10. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                            sprosser

                            They're doing this offsite backup at 11 pm, so no users are likely to be on the system. Still I prefer the Pause / Resume just because it feels more reliable than Stop / Start. Mind you, that's a feeling, with nothing technical to back it up.

                            • 11. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                              sprosser

                              Thanks for the suggestion to put it in writing to client and their service.

                              • 12. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                                CarstenLevin

                                I would let the backup schedules run at specific hours and then the snapshot should be made when no backups are being performed.

                                I am just searching for methods to make backups to off site locations without closing the server.

                                 

                                We are doing so at Codeo Denmark with backup schedules running at specific hours and then making the snapshot when they are static and not used by FileMaker Server.

                                • 13. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                                  wimdecorte

                                  Pause/Resume is easier - less moving parts.  Many things can prevent a file from being closed in time.  The only proper way to script closing a file is to:

                                  - suspend all schedules

                                  - get a list of connected clients

                                  - disconnect each client or all of them at once

                                  -- trap and abort if something is off

                                  - then close the files

                                  -- trap and abort if something is off

                                   

                                  so the process is much longer with stopping & starting...

                                  • 14. Re: Offsite back up service wants to close files on server and then back them up
                                    sprosser

                                    They're saying that it's a batch file their custom software will call, and it does specifically watch for a success response before continuing with the snapshot. Then they just add a Resume at the end, and everybody can go about their business.

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