Wednesday, April 06 2011 13:28 Written by Mattias Sundling
When doing image based backups with your backup software you have the option to enable Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) under backup options.
This means that the backup software request VMware tools to initiate a VSS snapshot in the Guest OS.
All registered VSS writers (run vssadmin list writers command to list all writers) in the Guest OS get the request and they prepare its application to be backed up (committing all transactions to disk).
Once all VSS writers are finished they communicate back to your backup software which then initiate a VMware snapshot. This will make the backup application consistent.
In order for this to work the VMware Tools VSS component must be enabled and Legato Sync Driver must be disabled (if present).
If your VM was created prior ESX 3.5 U2 you might have issues with incorrect drivers!
You can verify by initiating a VMware Tools Upgrade in interactive mode - Modify - Verify Volume Shadow Copy Service is enabled and if Sync Driver is present to disable it.
If you are familiar with Microsoft PowerShell and VMware PowerCLI you can run the following script to query all your Windows VMs (this will be done over WMI and requires you to have administrative rights to remote systems) for both Legato Sync Driver and VSS.
Thanks to: http://www.noplanningrequired.com
Sample output from script:
What level of consistency do I get?
That depends on what version of vSphere you are running and what Guest OS you have.
* Special requirements for application consistency on Windows 2008/R2, see below.
- Dynamic Disks are not supported
- SCSI disks only
- disk.EnableUUID attribute must be enabled.
- Enabled default on VMs created on vSphere 4.1
- VMs created on prior vSphere 4.1, following procedure must be followed:
- Power off your Windows 2008 VM
- Edit Settings - Options - General - Configurations Parameters - Add Row - Name=disk.EnableUUID Value=true
To make sure all your VMs have Legato Sync Driver Disabled, VSS Enabled and disk.EnableUUID configured correctly will take a serious amount of time if you have to connect to each VM manually and verify everything.
Introducing Quest PowerGUI
There is a much better and easier option available for you (free of charge). Quest PowerGUI is an application that is easy to use combined with the power of PowerShell scripting without the need to be a scripting wizard. Scripts are provided in different preloaded PowerPacks and you can easily extend the functionality by adding more PowerPacks from PowerGUI Library or write your own custom scripts as well.
You must have Microsoft PowerShell and VMware PowerCLI installed before you install PowerGUI, make sure you use PowerCLI 4.0 U1 as later versions has backward compatibility issues with many scripts.
You can use PowerGUI to manage your VMware environment more efficient such as finding snapshots, memory limits, connected CD-roms etc. It´s easy to find and reconfigure settings in bulk mode.
With help from Kirk Munro aka Poshoholic and Scott Herold aka VMguru I made a PowerPack that you can import (File - PowerPack Management - Import - Browse to VSS Status.powerpack) to PowerGUI and it will list status of Legato Sync Driver, VSS and disk.EnableUUID for selected VMs.
Select any VMs and Click VSS Status.
Results can be exported to XML, CSV and HTML. You can click on any of the columns to sort it.
Most Microsoft applications (AD, Exchange, SQL Server, Share Point), Oracle and others has a VSS writer and can be backed up in an application consistent state.
The option to modify the vmware-tools installation in windows guests seem to be missing in vmware-tools 126.96.36.19964.
So is the vss-driver (missing that is).
I did use your vss-reporting tool in Powergui and vss is listed as not installed.
Is the implementation changed? Can it only be installed during a new install of vmware-tools?
Did I miss something obvious?
Hi, and thanks for the response.
All servers are ESX 3.5 Update 5 or ESX 4.1.
Tools are reported as up to date, from virtualcenter and vcenter.
But, some servers are upgraded from earlier versions, like 3.1.
Seems like the vmware-tools version when run on Win Srv2008 R2 reports VSS as installed, but on Win Srv2003 it is not. The problem with modify/install driver is there on both OS versions.
A well, your'e not running a support forum here so I'll keep looking. If you come up with something, please let me know though.
I'm kinda new to all of this... Recently we upgraded from ESX3.5 to vsphere 4.0, after this backup of our fileserver (2003 std edt server) started to fail. In vshpere client I see the error " A snapshot operation can not be performed" .
If I enter cmd, types vssadmin list writers before trying to back up, they all list out State 1, Stable. Last error: No error. But after trying to back up the Writers; WMI, TermServLicensing, IIS Metabase and System Writer list out State 9, Failed, Last Error Timed out.
If I manually try to create snapshot by typing : vssadmin create shadow /for ="driveletter" they all tur out ok.
We are using symantec backup exec 12.5
Does anyone have a clue to what I'm missing here?
I've tried so many things now, and I'm running out of ideas
Greatful for answers
Thanks for quick reply!
After reinstalling VMWare tools, the List Writers command now again shows all the writers with state; stable and last error; no error.
To create a quisced snapshot with vCenter client runs up tl 95%, then retuns error message ; File is larger than the maximum size supported by database.
- How do I find out how big "file" = snapshot?? is - and what can I do about it?
All the steps in the KB above are ok.
Great article, however, I was tired when updating my 2008R2 VM's with the disk.EnableUUID Value=true flag, and inadvertently changed this on one of the Windows 2003 VM's, does that matter? I can seem to remove the attribute now, do I just change it to false? I can't seem to find anything regarding how this setting effects pre 2008 VMs