When is your backup not a backup? Apparently when you use BackupExec to back up data replicated using DFS-R.
My latest conundrum is that I have data that was replicated to a backup server using DFS-R, Microsoft's replication technology that comes as part of Windows Server 2003. DFS-R isn't the key component to this story, just that the data was part of a DFS tree and being replicated for backups. DFS is another Microsoft technology used to make mapping drives easier in an enterprise. In either case, these are fairly common things to find in a Windows shop.
Enter BackupExec. Since their 10d product (around hotfix 31) and continuing with their 11d and 12d disk backup products, any DFS data has to be backed up using a third Microsoft technology, Volume Shadow Services. This feature simply allows files and applications to be "snapshotted" or backed up while "hot", or during normal operations without impacting the live data. It is very useful. Well, we used it and backed up our data this way as it was required.
Only we had issues with the DFS replication and decided to transition to other methods to copy our file server local to the backup server. In that process we removed the DFS-R configuration, as expected, but now I need to restore some data from those previous backups only, I can't.
Apparently BackupExec requires that you restore shadow copied DFS data to the exact same replication group it originally came from.
So the scenario is that if you're using DFS and BackupExec you can never, ever...ever change your DFS replication groups because they are needed for restorations, even 2, 3, say 5 years down the line. And you know what their recommended fix is?
Restore your entire domain (user accounts, DFS configuration, email, whatever) back to before the change and then restore the data.
So the recommended recovery option for old DFSR data (let's say...a spreadsheet) is to restore my entire company domain back in time?
Needless to say, I'm opening a support ticket with Symantec but I'm not expecting much in the way of results. Meanwhile, I'm going to see if Arcserve can import my tape catalogs and restore my data to something less drastic than a previous version of my entire domain. If that fails, it looks like we're going to be building a time machine in a set of servers just to have them around to do restores.
BTW, the general recommendation in the community is either back up the files through the back door using a file share, avoiding the shadow copy service, or turn off DFS replication during the backup so BackupExec doesn't think it is DFS data anymore.
Update: After a somewhat heated discussion with Symantec on this issue, their senior technician had suggested we try running the restore with all DFS services turned off. I wasn't expecting much from this suggestion but sure enough, the restore was successful.
Now if only that had been mentioned in the technote. And the solution in the technote was the initial response from tech support and not until I complained excessively about this did they try to provide another workaround. Good thing I did, or else I still think I'd be left scratching my head over this "feature".