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Are my backups gone?

    Question

  • Hi all,

    I work for a small company and I'm the system administrator of our only server running Windows Server 2008 R2. Since August, I've been relying on the built-in backup utility for nightly backups to two rotating external HDDs (1 TB and 3 TB). I recently plugged in the 1 TB drive that I noticed a few weeks ago was near capacity. A few days ago, I noticed that it says

    Total Backups: 80
    Backups Available: 9

    Are all of my backups seriously gone? I'm panicking here because we have sensitive data and I know Windows Server 2008 R2 automatically deletes backups when it notices that it runs out of space but I didn't think all of them?

    Could a Microsoft Tech Rep please clarify how this all works and most importantly - is my data gone?!  

    Monday, May 07, 2012 3:57 AM

All replies

  • Hi,

    Please try to restore by using windows server backup and see if the data is visible.

    Did you configure a disk for a scheduled backup or a once backup?

    Indeed, if you  configured a disk for a scheduled backup, Windows Server Backup automatically manages the disk usage—you do not need to be concerned about running out of disk space after repeated backups. Windows Server Backup will automatically reuse the space occupied by older backups when creating new backups. The management tool displays the backups that are available as well as the disk usage information. This can help you plan for provisioning additional storage to meet your recovery objectives.

    Windows Server Backup automatic disk usage management

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/filecab/archive/2011/03/14/windows-server-backup-automatic-disk-usage-management.aspx

    If the backup storage location is full, Windows Server Backup automatically deletes the oldest backup version to make space for the current backup, since each backup is stored inside a shadow copy, deleting a backup version is accomplished by simply deleting the corresponding shadow copy.


    Jeff Ren TechNet Community Support beneficial to other community members reading the thread.



    Monday, May 07, 2012 5:22 AM
  • Ok, when on "View Details" under the All Backups section, it lists all 80 or so copies. When I click on "Recover...", I see I can go back as far as August to restore. In both cases, the backups are visible.

    I'm still just confused as to why it says Backups available - 10. (Backed up again after my original post). Are all of my copies still there? Sorry, I'm still kinda confused with how the shadow copies concept works. I know a couple weeks ago, the capacity was 931.49 GB and it was at about 929 GB. Now its 550.98 GB used out of 931.49 GB. So are all of the backups still on the disk? I just don't know how to explain it to my employer because I know he often logs in remotely and he'll definitely notice something wrong.
    Monday, May 07, 2012 12:43 PM
  • Oh and I forgot to mention - It's a scheduled backup running every night at 3 AM. 

    I'm real worried still.

    Monday, May 07, 2012 7:59 PM
  • Hi,

    Please read the following section.

    Automatic Disk usage management feature comes into play when Windows Server Backup detects that the backup target does not have enough space to accommodate the backup while backup is in progress. The way Windows Server Backup creates space for new backup is by shrinking the storage space allocated for snapshots (called diff area). As a result, one or more older snapshots (and hence backup versions corresponding to those snapshots) occupying the diff area that got shrunk get deleted. Before shrinking diff area, WSB determines whether shrinking the diff area can free up the requisite space so the backup can happen. If enough free space can get created, WSB goes ahead with the shrinking and continues with the backup.  WSB will not shrink the diff area to less than 1/8 of Target volume size as we do not want to lose all past backups just to accommodate this one. This is why sometimes backup fail with target out of disk space in spite of automatic disk usage management feature in Windows Server Backup.

    In other words, WSB goes ahead with the shrinking and continues with the backup.  WSB will not shrink the diff area to less than 1/8 of Target volume size.

    At present, your external hard disk been close to run out, to be on the safe side, you should transfer data to another external HDD, you should set aside enough space to back up the data, or, you may backup the data to offsite file server.


    Jeff Ren TechNet Community Support beneficial to other community members reading the thread.


    Tuesday, May 08, 2012 1:56 AM
  • I don't know why this is not clicking to me. 

    I've read this about 3 times and it's not making sense to me. So basically when Windows Server Backup detected that I was close to being out of space, it went ahead and out of 80 or so copies, it deleted 70 copies and left 10 "available" copies?

    All of the backups are still visible but I still don't know if they are definitely accessible on the drive.

    What exactly should I tell my employer?

    Tuesday, May 08, 2012 12:46 PM
  • Hi,

    That means that the disk was close to being out of space, you should prepare to change one.


    Jeff Ren TechNet Community Support beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2012 1:48 AM
  • My questions still aren't being answered which is why I'm still confused.

    You just told me previously above...
    "If the backup storage location is full, Windows Server Backup automatically deletes the oldest backup version to make space for the current backup, since each backup is stored inside a shadow copy, deleting a backup version is accomplished by simply deleting the corresponding shadow copy."

    and now your telling me...
    "That means that the disk was close to being out of space"

    So let me get this straight - Windows Server Backup automatically deletes the oldest backup version to make space for the current backup. I get that but why are there still about 83 Total Backups and 12 Backups available. It doesn't make sense to me. You still have not told me whether the other  71 copies are still on the disk or if they're actually deleted. If the disk was close to being out of space - wouldn't the utility have detected that it was out of space and abort the entire operation?

    At what point did the utility decide to delete 71 copies?

    Here's the thing - We rotate the drives out every Friday night. The 1 TB drive (the drive I'm talking about in this post) had about 2 GB left as of 2 weeks ago. I wasn't too concerned because "supposedly" Windows Backup deletes the oldest version to make space for the new copy. However, when I look a few days later and saw:

    Total Backups: 80
    Backups Available: 9

    I was alarmed. I'm still not receiving a clear-cut explanation for this behavior. If you are unsure Jeff, please find another MS tech rep. to help. Aren't there other MS employees on this forum?

    We are facing potential (and I say potential because you still have told me if the data is still there or not) severe data loss. Unbelievable.

    I'm going to explore better backup solutions because it seems like this product was very poorly made and the support is terrible.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2012 12:49 PM
  • Can anyone please help me or at least point me in the right direction?
    Saturday, May 12, 2012 4:46 AM
  • My questions still aren't being answered which is why I'm still confused.

    You just told me previously above...
    "If the backup storage location is full, Windows Server Backup automatically deletes the oldest backup version to make space for the current backup, since each backup is stored inside a shadow copy, deleting a backup version is accomplished by simply deleting the corresponding shadow copy."

    and now your telling me...
    "That means that the disk was close to being out of space"

    So let me get this straight - Windows Server Backup automatically deletes the oldest backup version to make space for the current backup. I get that but why are there still about 83 Total Backups and 12 Backups available. It doesn't make sense to me. You still have not told me whether the other  71 copies are still on the disk or if they're actually deleted. If the disk was close to being out of space - wouldn't the utility have detected that it was out of space and abort the entire operation?

    At what point did the utility decide to delete 71 copies?

    Here's the thing - We rotate the drives out every Friday night. The 1 TB drive (the drive I'm talking about in this post) had about 2 GB left as of 2 weeks ago. I wasn't too concerned because "supposedly" Windows Backup deletes the oldest version to make space for the new copy. However, when I look a few days later and saw:

    Total Backups: 80
    Backups Available: 9

    I was alarmed. I'm still not receiving a clear-cut explanation for this behavior. If you are unsure Jeff, please find another MS tech rep. to help. Aren't there other MS employees on this forum?

    We are facing potential (and I say potential because you still have told me if the data is still there or not) severe data loss. Unbelievable.

    I'm going to explore better backup solutions because it seems like this product was very poorly made and the support is terrible.

    yes, that means it will delete the oldest backups and make room for new backup.

    Jeff Ren TechNet Community Support beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Monday, May 14, 2012 1:50 AM
  • My questions still aren't being answered which is why I'm still confused.

    You just told me previously above...
    "If the backup storage location is full, Windows Server Backup automatically deletes the oldest backup version to make space for the current backup, since each backup is stored inside a shadow copy, deleting a backup version is accomplished by simply deleting the corresponding shadow copy."

    and now your telling me...
    "That means that the disk was close to being out of space"

    So let me get this straight - Windows Server Backup automatically deletes the oldest backup version to make space for the current backup. I get that but why are there still about 83 Total Backups and 12 Backups available. It doesn't make sense to me. You still have not told me whether the other  71 copies are still on the disk or if they're actually deleted. If the disk was close to being out of space - wouldn't the utility have detected that it was out of space and abort the entire operation?

    At what point did the utility decide to delete 71 copies?

    Here's the thing - We rotate the drives out every Friday night. The 1 TB drive (the drive I'm talking about in this post) had about 2 GB left as of 2 weeks ago. I wasn't too concerned because "supposedly" Windows Backup deletes the oldest version to make space for the new copy. However, when I look a few days later and saw:

    Total Backups: 80
    Backups Available: 9

    I was alarmed. I'm still not receiving a clear-cut explanation for this behavior. If you are unsure Jeff, please find another MS tech rep. to help. Aren't there other MS employees on this forum?

    We are facing potential (and I say potential because you still have told me if the data is still there or not) severe data loss. Unbelievable.

    I'm going to explore better backup solutions because it seems like this product was very poorly made and the support is terrible.

    Hi,

    I could understand your present mood, In this article, there is a section. http://blogs.technet.com/b/filecab/archive/2011/03/14/windows-server-backup-automatic-disk-usage-management.aspx

    After you configure a disk for a scheduled backup, Windows Server Backup automatically manages the disk usage—you do not need to be concerned about running out of disk space after repeated backups. Windows Server Backup will automatically reuse the space occupied by older backups when creating new backups. The management tool displays the backups that are available as well as the disk usage information. This can help you plan for provisioning additional storage to meet your recovery objectives.

    that means windows server backup will delete older backup and make room for new backup, it will not delete all of the backups, if you still use this HDD, it can still start a backup, but you could face the risk loss of previous data, this funtion is mainly focusing on the previous useless data on the disk, it will delete the previous useless data  and make room for new backup and you will be not worried about the backup is stoping due to the space is full, If your data is very valuable, I suggest you change a new disk.



    Jeff Ren TechNet Community Support beneficial to other community members reading the thread.


    Monday, May 14, 2012 2:10 AM
  • If the older backups were deleted, wouldn't the corresponding shadow copies be deleted too. I mentioned earlier that previous backups from around December are still visible when I click Recover and see them listed. Does that mean they're also available too?
    Tuesday, May 22, 2012 1:10 PM
  • I would suggest you to please do a recovery of the oldest backup visible. To be safe, do this to some alternate location. Windows server backup will allow you to restore your files to any alternate location. If you are able to see your files recovered, its safe to assume you have all above versions of backups available for recovery.

    I need to dig for your query about space management. Will try to help you with that soon.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 6:10 PM
  • I would suggest you to please do a recovery of the oldest backup visible. To be safe, do this to some alternate location. Windows server backup will allow you to restore your files to any alternate location. If you are able to see your files recovered, its safe to assume you have all above versions of backups available for recovery.

    I need to dig for your query about space management. Will try to help you with that soon.

      Please let me know about the space management. I mean I've literally read all about the Space Management feature but it still doesn't give me an explanation to why a large amount of backups were (until I do a recovery backup sometime) seemingly deleted. I don't know if I could even do that.

    Could I do it over the internet into my virtual machine on my laptop at home? I have Windows Server 2008 R2 in a Virtual Machine.

     I'm looking forward to your next response about space management.   :)

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 7:00 PM
  • Hi - did you ever find anything gasingh?
    Thursday, May 31, 2012 12:21 PM
  • There are 2 sections on your backup target.

    1. Full backup image

    2. Diff area

    Backup image contains your latest version of backup. For each new backup, this image is updated. To allow restore to older versions, the changed files will be copied to diff area on each backup. In case of disk full, backup application will free space from diff area to accomodate the new backup. It will try to change diff area size by deleting old backups, but just enough to accomodate this new backup.

    Your case "I know a couple weeks ago, the capacity was 931.49 GB and it was at about 929 GB. Now its 550.98 GB used out of 931.49 GB" is strange (but possible).

    Can you please share me result of this command: vssadmin list shadowstorage /on=X:

    (replace X with your backup drive letter)

    Sunday, June 03, 2012 3:38 PM
  • Another thing we are missing here is compaction. Server backup will try to compact the target backup image, i.e. the VHD file it created. During subsequent backups the VHD file will tend to have empty holes due to files deleted on source, between each version of backup. If there are large number of files getting deleted in each version, the backup image can have large holes (as large as 400Gb, as in your case). On compaction these holes will be removed and you may suddenly see your disk space getting free. This does not mean you have lost any backup.

    Let me know if this helps. Thanks!

    Gagan - MSFT (india)

    Monday, August 13, 2012 1:28 PM
  • Hi!

    I realise that this is old so you've probably already dealt with this issue, but I'll add my two cents anyway...

    Just to say that the Total Backups is probably the total number of backups that you have available over both of the hard disks that you've been using for the backups. Backups Available is the number on the drive that you have connected at that moment in time.

    When you click restore and look at the dates, you can see which backup dates are offline and which are available because the disk they are on is currently connect to the server.

    Hope that helps you or someone else,

    Andy

    • Proposed as answer by spock5 Wednesday, November 14, 2012 6:28 PM
    Thursday, August 30, 2012 12:59 PM