Backup Monitoring: Part 5—Tuning Your Backup Selections

In part four, I discussed monitoring usage and adjusting backup selections as methods of potentially controlling costs, while still providing reliable data protection. I’ll continue that discussion in this installment by helping you locate duplicate data.

Excluding DFS replication and data deduplication from System State backup

Windows Server OS based devices with DFS Replication or Windows Data Deduplication are configured to automatically backup those components. These selections could significantly increase the selected size of your System State backup. If you want to protect these components the increased size may be fine. But their selection could also be redundant if the data is already selected as part of the Files and Folders backup on this or another protected backup device. To quickly identify backup devices with DFS or Dedupe selections, you can manually look for devices with a System state selected size greater than about 70 GB or use the following advanced search filter.

 Expression  Description
 S3 > 70.gibi()  (System state selected size Greater than 70 Gigabytes)


You can deselect DFS and Dedupe by editing the System state selections on the Backup tab of the local Backup Manager. Backup devices that have System state set via a profile will need to have that profile removed or adjusted to Keep local settings before local System state exclusions can be made.

Filtering network paths

On Mac and Linux devices mounted SMB/Samba shares can show up as part of the local file system.  When connected, these shares can significantly increase your total backup selected size. To prevent these network mounts from being included in backup you can either deselect the respective shares or set exclusion filters. Please consult the documentation for your specific MacOS or Linux distribution for alternate or additional mount paths.

 Operating System  Sample Exclusion Path
 MacOS  /Volumes/*
 Linux  /mnt/*

Ignoring LocalSpeedVaults and seed drives

By default, the local Backup Manager is smart enough to identify a configured seed drive or LocalSpeedVault, whether it’s directly attached or connected via a network share. However, when you make configuration changes, move, or reattach this seed drive or LocalSpeedVault to another system with an active Backup Manager, you run the possibility of that device accidentally seeing the volume or share as data to protect. You can set a local, profile, or policy-based exclusion filter to prevent a seed drive or LocalSpeedVault from ever backing up by accident.

 Data Type  Sample Exclusion Path
 LocalSpeedVault  & Seed Drives  *\storage\cabs\gen*\*

Excluding USB drives

Windows systems consider USB hard drives fixed disks, which means they’re automatically included when you select the entire file system for backup. If you know the drive letters that will be assigned, then you can adjust your selections to only backup specific volumes, or you can set exclusions to restrict specific drive letters. However, since USB drives are pluggable, you may not know the drive letter. If that’s the case, you’ll need another approach to dynamically identify and exclude them from your backups. With this goal in mind, I’ve designed a sample PowerShell script you can use to inventory a system and set exclusions or registry keys to help prevent the drive from being backed up. If you’re interested in exploring this, please feel free to contact me via social media.

Preventing backups of backups

You might think having multiple backup applications on the same system doubles your level of protection. But in many cases, it actually costs you more time, money, and bandwidth—and it can actually reduce the chances of a successful backup. This is due to factors such as overlapping schedules, conflict VSS snapshots, improper log handling, and double processing of backup files. Typically, if you have one backup solution working, I recommend you disable the second. At the very least, set schedules to help prevent overlap and exclude the other solution from processing and backing up the backup destination files. You should investigate your backup devices, looking for legacy backup applications, dump disks, tar files, native Windows, SQL .BAK and .BKF files, and disk backup images created by competing commercial backup products and disk imaging solutions.

Eric Harless is the Head Backup Nerd at SolarWinds MSP. Eric has worked with SolarWinds Backup since 2013 and has over 25+ years of data protection industry experience in sales, support, marketing, systems engineering, and product management.

You can follow Eric on Twitter at @backup_nerd


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