Backup Exec 2010 R3 SP3 on Windows Server 2012 Core using Windows deduplication

Hmmm… it’s looking like Symantec have a problem with Server 2012 Core with Windows deduplication turned on.

We’d been advised that the above release of BE 2010 would at least let us back up our 2012 boxes, so after installation quickly installed the agent on our 2 2012 boxes: 1 built GUI, 1 built Core.

The GUI one seems fine, backups are taking normalish amounts of time and restores work. The Core box, however, implies that a full backup o four data (4TB?) would basically never finish, but then the job finishes really quickly. And… the restores don’t work. Or at least not fully, which is why we back things up to be honest.

3 calls to Symantec later and there’s still not much to report from them, but doing some testing I found that:

  • Build a Hyper-V test server with deduplication against a 40GB disk, got some test data on it (90MB image files) and set deduplication off. Brilliant- 94% deduplication;
  • Installed BE agent, ran backup, ran restore- nothing, just corrupt files;
  • Installed the full GUI role, re-ran backups and restores, nothing again;
  • Uninstalled BE agent, rebooted, reinstalled BE agent, nothing again;
  • Rebuilt server as Server 2012 GUI (from start), installed BE agent;
  • Ran backups/ restores, worked! despite some strange VSS errors;

I can only think that BE just really doesn’t like Core. I tried a small (2.7GB) backup of some of our production data and the results were really random- some of the restored Word documents worked, some didn’t. Same for Excel files. I couldn’t get any PDFs to open, whereas JPGs only seemed to fail if generated as user content, not as embedded software files.

Currently no idea- although I suppose it’d be advisable not to use the above BE version to back up any production data that sits on a Windows Server Core DeDuplication volume for now.

UPDATE 15NOV2013: it looks like Backup Exec (or at least our BE environment) has a serious problem with Server Core- but at least it’s easy to fix at least. The first time the BE agent gets pushed out, it DOESN’T install the BE 2010 R3 SP3 update- which is why the backups are corrupt, because support for Server 2012 only came in with SP3 so the agent remains on 13.0.5204.0. Re-installing the agent however does bring the agent up to 13.0.5204.1225, and magically the backups start to work. Symantec tech support are trying to recreate this is in a lab environment, but it maybe it’s just our environment this affects. As before, Server 2012 GUI seems to have no issues. This is tediously repeatable… I’ve just done it again with another brand-new, unpatched Core machine and the same thing has happened.

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