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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:23 pm 
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I have an iMac that has been backing up fine to my 487 using Time Machine. I just purchased a new macbook and decided to have it back up to the 487 as well. However, in order to do this I needed to resize the backup volume using the HP software interface on my Macbook. Unfortunately, the original backup file was deleted (expected) but no new backup volume could be created. The macbook validates successfully but then cannot create a new share.

After several calls to HP, I was told that Time Machine can only back up to the system disk on the 487 and also needs "contiguous" storage space on the disk. While the system disk has over 600 Gigs of available space (frustrating since I have 4 Terabytes on the server available in total!), it has been rewritten several times and the HP technician said that was preventing Time Machine from being able to find "contiguous" space on the disk. Therefore, I was told my only solution was to back up the server and do a complete reinstall.

Has anyone else encountered this? It sounds like complete BS since that would make the resize function essentially worthless in almost every case? Any suggestions?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:44 pm 
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Unfortunately that's the way they designed the backup drive for the Mac feature in the 480 and 490 series (and even 470 series after installing the Mac client software downloadable from hp.com).

For maximum size, the best thing to do would be to:
- Buy a 2TB drive.
- Perform a Reset with that drive in there ALONE.
- Do the initial setup, don't bother getting the updates other than the initial ones.
- Set up your Mac backup drive through Time Machine

You should be able at this point to create a 1TB+ backup drive for your iMac.
Then carry on to do the updates for WHS, HP and finish configuring your server the way you want it.

I know this involves buying a large drive that is still on the expensive side, but it's my scenario example of the maximum TM backup size possible for EX480 series.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:36 am 
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No offense, but there are better solutions for backing up a Mac to a WHS than TimeMachine. SuperDuper, for example.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:53 pm 
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hakr wrote:
No offense, but there are better solutions for backing up a Mac to a WHS than TimeMachine. SuperDuper, for example.


Both have their uses, but Super Duper cannot do some of the things Time Machine can do (and vice versa). With the latest version of the MSS you can actually do a bare metal recovery over the network using just a flash drive and the OS X boot disc, which is a pretty nifty trick (no hacking required).

I've never run into TM issues with the HP MSS. Then again, I only have 30GB on my Mac since all of my media is on the WHS itself. For all three of my Macs the TM backup size is set to 256GB.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:07 pm 
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hakr wrote:
No offense, but there are better solutions for backing up a Mac to a WHS than TimeMachine. SuperDuper, for example.

I have never used (or seen SuperDuper)... but I can say that the user interface of Time Machine is one of the coolest things that I have ever seen.

I had a problem with my MacBook Air (USB port failed after about 2 months). I brought it to the Apple Store... they handed me a brand new MacBook Air - no questions asked. I brought it home, and during the first boot-up, it asked me if I wanted to restore from my existing Time Machine backup. about 20 minutes later... I had an exact duplicate of my original MacBook Air. I have never seen such a painless migration in my life. Every application was set up. Every preference setting was perfect, every bookmark was in place... it was perfect!

Oh... BTW, my new Air came with Snow Leopard, and my original was Leopard. Time Machine was smart enough to restore my new Mac... but not downgrade from SN to Leopard.

/Jim

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:11 pm 
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After several days of trying to figure out why my Mac won't back up to my WHS, I think this may be my problem as well. Every time I try to create the space for my Time Machine backup, it gets up to ~38% (of 100GB) and then gets stuck. I currently have 4X1TB Drives with 880GB available. Surely there is more than the 100GB necessary, but perhaps it is not 'contiguous' for some reason. Is there any way to force the WHS to make a contiguous space for the Mac?

I was just thinking that I could probably move some data off the server and remove one of my drives temporarily. Then when I re-add it, it should be empty. Will the Mac recognize this new space?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:35 pm 
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I have heard so many horror stories about people trying to get Time Machine working on the MSS that I just decided that for TM backups... I would just use a separate drive. I do not regret my decision. I love my MSS... but this is one application that I just do not trust yet.

/Jim

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:12 pm 
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salviati wrote:
After several days of trying to figure out why my Mac won't back up to my WHS, I think this may be my problem as well. Every time I try to create the space for my Time Machine backup, it gets up to ~38% (of 100GB) and then gets stuck. I currently have 4X1TB Drives with 880GB available. Surely there is more than the 100GB necessary, but perhaps it is not 'contiguous' for some reason. Is there any way to force the WHS to make a contiguous space for the Mac?

I was just thinking that I could probably move some data off the server and remove one of my drives temporarily. Then when I re-add it, it should be empty. Will the Mac recognize this new space?


Remember that it has to be contiguous space on a single drive.

*edit*: I have removed some of my post because after reading Yakuza's post (below), I went and did some testing of my own on my EX490 and a Mac and I disproved PART of my statements.

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Last edited by element on Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:42 pm 
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So this topic has been nagging me for quite a while, simply because it doesn't make any sense. Drive Extender is a file system filter driver and manages all data written to the D:\shares and D:\folders on the server. This means that all file creations generated by the OS will go through Drive Extender, which creates the Tombstone on the system drive and decides on which disk to place the primary shadow copy (and secondary shadow copy if duplication is enabled).

So I did some snooping into the HP code and found out how they are creating the Mac backup files. The Mac client places a file into the \Mac share on the server in the Backup directory named "somename.req", whatever you want to call it. The Server has a process that watches that directory for these files, and when it finds one it reads out two values, the requested name of the file and the size it should be. It then accesses a method in HP.DiskUtils.dll that does the actual file creation. That is a native dll, so I ran the Unix "strings" command on it, and saw that it appears they are using NtCreateFile which is a Win32 API call.

Instead of spending a lot of time testing with a Mac client, I circumvented that part by manually creating a "bigfile.req" with the contents "bigfile.macbackup 300000000000" which would be roughly 290GB. My server has a 1.5TB system drive with ~600GB free, and two 500GB drives each with just over 300GB free. I chose the 290GB so that DE should be able to store the file on any drive on the server.

What I found was that the system immediately created the bigfile.macbackup, and closer investigation showed that it was stored on the 500GB drive that had the most free space, not on the system drive. This is exactly the way Drive Extender is supposed to behave.

In the screenshot you'll notice:
* D:\shares\Mac\Backup is the WHS Server Storage as presented to the user (the Tombstone), with no insight into where the file is actually stored.
* D:\DE\shares\Mac\Backup is the actual physical storage location on the D: partition of the system drive. This contains the 550GB backup file for my wife's Macbook, which was too large to create on the secondary 500GB drives in the server.
* C:\fs\1J4\DE\shares\Mac\Backup is one of the secondary 500GB drives and contains the bigfile.macbackup I had the HP software create. Note that C:\fs\ is a virtual view into the secondary drives managed by Drive Extender.

Now, with this investigation I don't intend to discount that there have been several users that have had problems creating backup files for their Macs. I hope that having further insight into how the Server works will allow us to all benefit and hopefully figure out how to help these users make the most of their MediaSmart Servers.


Attachments:
macbackup_systemdrive.jpg
macbackup_systemdrive.jpg [ 109.2 KiB | Viewed 9548 times ]

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:41 pm 
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element wrote:
salviati wrote:
After several days of trying to figure out why my Mac won't back up to my WHS, I think this may be my problem as well. Every time I try to create the space for my Time Machine backup, it gets up to ~38% (of 100GB) and then gets stuck. I currently have 4X1TB Drives with 880GB available. Surely there is more than the 100GB necessary, but perhaps it is not 'contiguous' for some reason. Is there any way to force the WHS to make a contiguous space for the Mac?

I was just thinking that I could probably move some data off the server and remove one of my drives temporarily. Then when I re-add it, it should be empty. Will the Mac recognize this new space?


Remember that it has to be contiguous space on the system drive!!

It doesn't matter whether you have one drive, or 37 drives.
It only looks at the system drive.

As mentioned, there are better solutions out there for Macs and TM backups.


Really? It just seems to be a share like any other so I don't know why it would be constrained to the system drive for space calculations.

//edit

Looks like Alex proved that in fact it does NOT require system drive space for this to work. There are legitimate reasons it could fail if trying to create an extremely large TM volume and not having enough contiguous space.

I've backed up 4 macs on my EX series boxes and not had an issue at all, but I have never created a backup volume bigger than 250GB.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:16 pm 
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yakuza wrote:
So this topic has been nagging me for quite a while, simply because it doesn't make any sense.

Thanks for motivating me to do some further testing on my EX490 and Mac.
First off I want to say that the reason I was saying it goes to the system drive is based on the documentation that I had received about this feature back when the EX480 series offered this feature.

As mentioned, I did some further testing and disproved that part (about it using only the system drive).
It still needs contiguous space on a single physical hard drive for sure and I would like to add that DE does NOT move this file once it is created.


My tools for this were:
- An EX490 with a single 750GB drive installed (contains OS).
- A spare 750GB drive (blank)
- A Mac Mini
- A Windows 7 (simply to RDP into the server and look at diskmgmt)

My EX490 has about a week's worth of backups, about 200 media files and roughly 20GB of other random files. No addins installed.
I started on the Mac Mini by creating a 100GB backup. It worked.
I kept on deleting it and upping it until I reached about 200GB and then would no longer successfully create them.
I then added the blank 750GB drive to the unit's storage pool, kept duplication off.
On the Mac Mini I then created a 550GB backup drive, it worked.
RDP'd to the server and it showed that the file was actually on the hard drive I just added.
Deleted the backup file using the Mac and then tried to create one of 800GB to see if it would span it over 2 physical drives (although I was 99% sure it wouldn't).
It failed right away as expected.
Now that the drive is empty again (because the 800GB failed), I looked at how large the space is on my 2nd drive.
It showed 99% free, which amounted to 698.54GB
I was able to create one of 698GB which diskmgmt then showed 0% free, 549MB available.
When attempting to create one of 699GB, it failed right away saying that there isn't enough space.

My concensus is that I was wrong about it needing the system drive and I apologize to anyone whom I've told that to.
The Mac backup drive needs contiguous space on a single physical hard drive.


Now this does not rule out the inability to create backup drives due to other errors though!

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:23 pm 
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yakuza wrote:
It then accesses a method in HP.DiskUtils.dll that does the actual file creation.

Mind me asking where this file is located on the server?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:20 am 
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Yeah, it's in C:\program files\Hewlett-Packard\MediaSmart Server\ on the server.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:30 am 
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Thanks :cheers:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:45 pm 
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It's also worth noting that while some users might find this behavior annoying, it makes perfect sense. The Time Machine file is what is referred to as a sparse bundle file. It's a single contiguous file designed to act as a container for Time Machine backups. For this reason it needs to be a single sequential file on one physical volume. Theoretically it is possible at some later time that this could be addressed through the use of ZFS, etc, although with Apple recently putting the kabosh on ZF support I wouldn't hold my breath.

So, bottom line is if you don't have enough contiguous space, the best thing you can do is turn off folder duplication for a couple of your large shares, then create the TM backup size you need (assuming there is now a disk with enough free space to do it) then turn folder duplication back on. This should sort things out as far as the system allocating space appropriately.


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