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Tape configuration requirements

Additionally to the requirements mentioned in the design section:

  • You must configure tape partitioning if you need to attach your Tape library to several Veeam servers or share it with other 3rd party vendors.
  • You must configure one or more simple media pools with the necessary media set and retention settings.
  • You must load tapes to the tape device and configure the target media pool so that it has access to them. If the media pool has no available tape, the tape job will wait for 72 hours and then terminate.

Mind the following limitations:

  • Backup to tape jobs process only VBK (full backups) and VIB files (forward incremental backups)
  • If you back up to tape a reverse incremental chain, the tape job will always copy the full backup.
  • Reverse incremental backups (VRB) are skipped from processing.
  • Microsoft SQL Server log files (VLB) are skipped from processing.

Tape server and general hints

Both Windows and Linux operating systems families are supported.
With sufficient resources, performance will be the same regardless of OS, so the usage of Linux tape server gives flexibility and ease of use.
You could minimize the network bottleneck by combining roles of Repository and Tape server on the same machine. Consider that Hardened Linux Repository and Tape server roles can not be combined.
Use the latest Veeam version and patch level as they often contain tape throughput optimizations.

The GFS (Grandfather, Father, Son) tape job can help avoid a complex Backup to Tape job creation by handling weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly backups in a single job.
For Backup to Tape jobs that use forever forward incremental (i.e. without synthetic or active fulls) jobs or Backup Copy Jobs as source of the data, it may be required to temporarily disable the job using pre- and post scripts, as the transform process of forever forward incremental jobs will terminate the tape job. Another option is to increase the number of restore points of these jobs temporarily. By increasing the number of restore points for the source job, the Backup to Tape job will not be terminated by the merge process of the source backup job. However, please note this will increase the transform time significantly once the setting is reverted and is highly discouraged for large jobs.

Tape media management

Tape partitioning

Many Tape appliance vendors offer the option to divide a tape library into sections, known as “partitions.” For instance:

Imagine you have a tape library where you can create several partitions. These dedicated slots can be separately assigned for two or more Veeam Backup and Replication installations. When selecting where to store a backup, you simply choose the partition you want. Veeam Backup and Replication will then use only that partition, managing and labeling tapes within it as if it was a standalone Tape library. Even if tapes in that partition are full, it won’t use slots outside its designated partition.

There is no overlap in resources of tape library except sharing drives. E.g. four partitions will require at least 16 tapes, min of 4 tape drives; tape partition ID will be assigned to a server and operate as a standalone tape library.

Note: you may assign several tape libraries or partitions to a single Backup server. Tapes operate in streams, so your repository should have enough read capacity to form a stream. This could be a subject or an issue with Deduplication Appliances, which guarantee high throughput by utilizing several streams. That’s why it might be slow and tricky offloading data to tape from deduplication appliance.

In a single Veeam Backup and Replication setup, partitioning may not be necessary or helpful, only if you need to add some parallelism for data processing. It is typically used when multiple backup servers or applications need to access the same library at the same time, allowing each server/application to have its dedicated drives for operations.
If you’re using just one backup software, it’s best to set up the library with a single partition that uses all available drives. This maximizes the library’s efficiency and simplifies management. You can still configure media sets, retention policies, and rotation plans within that single partition to meet your backup needs.

Media information

Veeam Backup & Replication catalogues information of all archived data and stores this information in the Veeam backup database. The registered tapes stay in the database until you remove the information about them. You can always view details for each tape — for example, information about backups written to it, even if the tape is not inserted in the library. The catalogue enables locating the required items’ positions on tape. It correlates the archived files and the restore points to the names of the corresponding tapes, both online and offline, and the names of the media sets within where the data was written.

When you start restore, Veeam Backup & Replication prompts for the tapes you need to bring online. As a result, you can restore data from tape much quicker. Veeam Backup & Replication uses the following catalogues for storing the tape-related data:

  • Tape catalogue stores information about files/folders archived to tape media with file to tape jobs, as well as backup files produced by backup to tape jobs. The content of the tape catalogue can be examined in the Files view.
  • Backup catalogue stores information about VMs whose backups have been archived to tape media via backup to tape jobs. The content of the backup catalogue can be examined under the Backups > Tape node in the Backup & Replication view.

Media pool

A media pool simply defines a group of tapes managed by Veeam Veeam Backup & Replication. There are three types of media pools:

Service media pools. Created and managed automatically. It is not possible to modify their settings. They contain:

  • Empty media starts out in the free pool indicating it’s available for use in other pools.
  • Unknown media will be placed to the unrecognized pool so that it won’t be overwritten.
  • After inventorying or cataloging, media with existing data is placed into the imported pool. Review the contents and place such media into the free pool for overwrite or leave in imported pool to keep the data.
  • Exhausted or broken tapes are placed into the retired pool and will not be used any further.

Media pools are groups of media to which backup data can be written.

  • You can create as many custom media pools as needed.
  • Media can be assigned to a pool manually, or configured to be automatically assigned from the free pool.
  • Configure each pool settings according to the purpose of the pool, such as the overwrite protection period that will be applied to all media within the pool.
  • Custom tape pool can be spanned over multiple tape libraries. The idea is to use the capacity and drives of multiple tape systems together and/or to failover to another tape library in case one library goes offline.

GFS media pools are used to store weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly backups on tape.

  • You can create as many GFS tape pools as needed.
  • Media can be assigned to a pool manually, or configured to be automatically assigned from the free pool. Optionally, specific tapes can be defined for specific media sets (for example yearly backups).
  • Configure each pool settings according to the purpose of the pool, such as the overwrite protection period that will be applied to all media within the pool.

Number of tapes to consider is based on the capacity of the tape cartridge against amount of data you backup and it’s retention. Since LTO3 - LTO9 are supported, you have a variety of range for building tape environment. Cartridge capacity has two values: native and compressed capacity. For LTO9 values are 18 TB and 45 TB accordinly. For compressed Veeam backups to tape only native capacity can be counted. For file-to-tape jobs and not compressed backups you may consider compressed capacity (Veeam File-To-Tape job doesn’t apply any software compression). Another thing to consider is so-called End Of Media (EOM) command which triggers cartridge replacing. EOM parameter varies, and might be at 97% capacity or even 90%. It’s necessary to check with a Tape vendor. EOM command is returned by tape device to Veeam Tape Server during backup process and another tape will be used from the media pool.

When you need to utilize compressed capacity of the cartridge, you should
1) Disable Veeam compression in advanced settings of initial backup job. 2) Enable hardware compression in Tape advanced settings of the tape job.

Considering Native capacity, 1080 TB of data from the design example requires 60 tapes ingnoring End of Media pointer, with EOM this can be up to 67 LTO9 tapes (if EOM cuts 10% of capacity).

Media set

A media set is a subset of a media pool that contains at least one backup. A new media set can be created for every backup, or on a time based schedule (i.e. weekly). It is also possible to reuse the same media set forever. When a media set contains at least one full backup, it is a self-sufficient restore point. This means that if you have all tapes from the media set at hand, you can be sure that restore will be successful. If you want to have the tapes fully written, then you would need to enable the option “Do not create, always continue using current media set” in the Media Pool.

Media vault

A media vault is used to organize offline media. For example, a service organization that transports the tapes to a safe at a bunker. You can name the vault accordingly and add some useful information in the description (phone number, place, etc.). When you need to transport physical tapes to the safe, add these tapes to the vault manually or set automatic export of offline tapes to a vault in the corresponding tape jobs or media pools properties.

Automated drive cleaning

You can instruct Veeam Backup & Replication to automatically clean the tape library drives. Assigning the automated cleaning to Veeam Backup & Replication prevents possible overlapping of cleaning tasks and tape jobs. Such overlapping may cause tape job failures.

If you enable the automated drive cleaning option in Veeam Backup & Replication, make sure that you disabled the drive cleaning tasks on your tape library device.

Veeam Backup & Replication cleans the drives at the beginning of backup to tape jobs or file to tape job run. The cleaning is not performed during other tape operations like cataloging or export. To clean the drives automatically, Veeam Backup & Replication performs the following actions:

1) The tape library alerts Veeam Backup & Replication on a drive that requires cleaning. 2) Veeam Backup & Replication waits for a tape job to start. 3) When the tape job locks necessary drives for writing data, Veeam Backup & Replication checks which of them requires cleaning. 4) Veeam Backup & Replication ejects the tape from the drive, inserts a cleaning tape and performs the cleaning. 5) Veeam Backup & Replication ejects the cleaning tape and inserts the tape that was reserved for the tape job. 6) The tape job writes the data on tape. 7) The cleaning process usually takes several minutes. 8) The cleaning tapes are located in the Unrecognized media pool. The worn-out cleaning tapes are moved to the Retired media pool automatically.

If a tape job locks multiple drives simultaneously for parallel processing, and one or more drives require cleaning, all drives will wait until the cleaning is finished. After cleaning, all drives will start writing simultaneously.

The automated drive cleaning does not affect creation of media sets.

Limitations for automated drive cleaning: You cannot enable the automated drive cleaning on standalone tape drives. You cannot start the drive cleaning manually with Veeam Backup & Replication. The drive cleaning is fully automated.

Using third party tape software

If you plan to run both Veeam Backup & Replication and 3rd party tape-recording software, consider that Veeam Backup & Replication by default will periodically lock the drive to perform rescan, preventing other software from recording. As Veeam Backup & Replication tracks and orchestrates all backups written to tape, Veeam recommends using the built-in Veeam tape features (Backups to Tape and Files to Tape jobs).

However, in some situations you may want to use an existing library with non-LTO tapes, or you need to integrate Veeam Backup & Replication into an existing backup-to-tape software. Veeam backup files contain all information needed for restore (e.g., deduplication information, VM metadata, etc.), and you can use the existing backup-to-tape solution to bring the Veeam backup files to tape. This approach can also support enterprise customer “segregation of duty” demands, as two complete different teams can handle backups and tape backups. No single person can delete by mistake or on purpose the primary and the tape chain. Before having two backup solutions co-exist on the same server, please verify they do not conflict with each other.

Tape job source selection

Backup repositories as source

When you add a repository as a source to tape job, the tape job constantly scans the selected repository (or repositories) and writes the newly created backups to tape. The tape job monitors the selected repository in a background mode. You can set explicit backup windows for the tape job. In this case, the tape job will start on the set time and archive all new restore points that were created during the period since the last job run. If you create or remove backup jobs that use this repository, or if you change the configuration of such backup jobs, you do not need to reconfigure the tape job that archives the repository.
Note: even if you choose to write an entire repository on tape, enterprise plugins backups will be skipped (SAP HANA, RMAN, MS SQL plugins). Check the list of supported backups in advance.

Mixed jobs to one tape job

You can build tape jobs based on retention requirements and mix the supported source and copy jobs including those of different types (like from different hypervisors, agents and public clouds image backups).

Important! The backup to tape job looks only for the Veeam backups that are produced by backup jobs running on your Veeam Backup console. Other files will be skipped. Note that to back up files, you need to configure a files to tape job. Files to tape job can also backup Enterprise plugin backups as files, not as registered backups.

Linking primary jobs

You can add primary jobs to tape jobs at any moment: when you create a tape job, or later. Adding primary jobs is not obligatory when you create a tape job: you can create an “empty” job and use it as a secondary destination target. When you link jobs, the tape job processes them in the same way as the jobs added with the Tape Job Wizard. For more information, see Linking Backup Jobs to Backup to Tape Jobs.


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