Backup & Recovery

External hardisks, whether they are USB or eSata, are increasingly used as backup media, in place of tapes.  If you are using more than one external harddisks, you would want to set them up so that there are minimal adminstration after the initial set-up.  You should be able to swap disks without having to modify your backup jobs. My previous article

outlines the steps that are needIf you are using BE 2010 or earlier.  For BE 2012, you need to do the following

1) Define storage on your external harddisks.

Plug in your harddisk(s) and in the Storage tab, click on the Define Storage button.  Follow the steps to define disk storage on your external harddisk.    If your disks are recognised as fixed disk by the OS, then you can only define Disk Storage on them.  Otherwise, define Disk Cartridge Device on them.

Don't worry about the drive letter that the disk is assigned.  BE will be able to handle any changes in drive letters later on.  Do not assign a fixed drive letter to the disks.  Give your storage a name such that from the BE console you can identify which disk is connected to the media server.  See my screenshot below.

This is the crucial step in the whole process, so don't get it wrong.  Make sure that you DEFINE ONE STORAGE PER DISK.  If you have sufficient ports, plug in all your external harddisk at the same time before you start defining storage.  This is to ensure that each harddisk is recognised by BE as seperate harddisks.  When you unplug and plug in the harddisk, the corresponding storage should go off-line and on-line accordingly.

If you don't have to sufficient ports to plug in all your disks at once, then make sure your previously defined storage do not come on-line when you plug in a new disk.  For example, you defined "Disk Storage - USB Disk 1" on your USB Disk 1.  When you unplug USB Disk 1, "Disk Storage - USB Disk 1" goes off-line, as expected.  When you plug in USB Disk 2, "Disk Storage - USB Disk 1" came on-line so you are unable to define any storage on USB Disk 2.  This could happen if the diskid of the two USB disks are the same.  BE tracks disks by their diskids.  If you encounter this situation, check and change the diskids using the procedure below

Make sure that your disks have different diskids.  If the diskids of your disks are not the same and the storage defined on one disk comes on-line when another disk is plugged in, re-start all your BE services.  As I said before, make sure that you define one storage per disk.  Do not use one storage for all your disks.

2) Define a storage device pool.

Click on the Define Storage button and select Storage Pool

Follow the dialog and add the storage that was defined in Step 1 into the pool


Even though you have only storage on your external harddisks, you should not skip this step and use the All Disk Storage device pool.  This is because the All Disk Storage pool is a catch-all pool.  If later on, you define a disk storage on an internal disk or another external disk which is not part of this set of disks.  It will automatically be included in the All Disk Storage device pool.  This will mess up your backup when the backup sets goes onto the disk storage on your other disks.

3) Define a job

Define a job and target it to the storage pool that you have created in Step 2.


This job will then write to whichever disk in your set of disks that is plugged in and is on-line at the time of the backup.


Good Practice

In BE 2012, the backup chain is very important.  A backup chain is the set of backups that are necessary for recovery to a certain point-in-time.  For example, if you do a full backup on Friddays and increment backups on Mondays to Thursday, then the set of backups from Friday to Thursday is a backup chain.  If you decide to restore from the Thursday incremental backup, BE 2012 is smart enough to restore the last Friday's full backup and then the incremental backups from Monday to Thursday automatically.  Hence it is a good practice to keep the entire chain on one disk.  In this case, it is good practice to rotate the disk only on Friday before the next full backup.  If you rotate the disks every day in this example, then you would be scattering the backup chain amongst all your disks.  This will be a hindrance when it come time to do a restore.

Also, if you are using Disk Storage, DLM will be managing your disks and it grooms entire backup chains at once, not individual backup sets.  Again, for this reason, it is good to keep the entire backup chain on one disk.


Good and useful document, thank you


this solution is not so bad, but each time the customer changes the usb-disk an error is reportet, witch makes the solution worse then other products.

Why the hell needs BE to report failer, if a disk goes offline temporary.

For sure it's ok, when the storage is offline starting the job, but not during no acitivy. I hope Symantec has a solution for that, otherwise we will go back to the competeter with a A in its name.


One feature that works well in previous versions, and in this "improved" version does not.

Nice workarround btw

One question I have is how do we tell which drive should be retrieved from off site storage?

When we were using tapes, I could go in and look at offline media and see if the overwright protection period had expired.

How do I do that using the above mentioned procedure?

What USB hard drives have you guys had good luck with? And what have you guys done when the USB DISK runs out of space. My incrementals are at 3-400GB. and my Fridays are at 2.2TB.

We are using Seagate USB 3, 3tb drives.  Other than BE2012 sp1a randomly locking up my jobs (which didnt happen before I patched it), it seems to be working fine.

External hard drives connected to computers is prone to infection with viruses. Apart from that its also effect other computers.

Marvellous !!!


But Jobs are not able to select automatically drive why ?????

my jobs are configured to use "any drive of the pool" !

and then :


disk Pool.JPG

My 1st disk is out of disk space !!!

Note that in details i reserved 100GB for non backup Exec operations :

disk Pool2.JPG

So what the f...... is going on !!!


PS : >When you start a new release of a product y ou don't have to delete all the features  !!!!!

I still can't view Virtual Tapes on this VTL to free space !!!

Thanks Symantec 2012 Sucks !! .........

I am having a very similar problem. Exec won't auto select the next tape in the pool.

Does this setup/configuration to use external USB drives will work on a BE2012 installed on a VMware virtual machine inside a ESXi 5.1 Cluster?


Ex. scenario: I have 2 external 1TB USB drive to do a weekly rotation

  • VMware ESXi 5.1 host with a 1Tb external USB Drive connected to it.
  • VM running Windows Server 2012 + BE2012



This discussion may be of interested.

Using VM as media server and accessing real devices is not supported.

Why has this changed from 2010

i have 15 disks for each serv

that means that i have to plug in 15 disks - one at a time

create the storgare

add to the storage pool

do an inventry - so that path changes

unplug disk

and repeat 15 times for each server - currently 3 - anouther 8 to do - 1 for each region

Then if i have a problem with one of the disk and need to replace i have to figure out which is the fualy one in the 15 storage listed and delet and add in the new one

What is the process for downgrading to 2010 - the one that works

or can we remove and get our money back and use another application that works ?