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Backup Exec Install Blog (VCRuntimes)

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Backup Exec Install Blog (VC Runtimes)

Backup Exec 2014 has had a warm reception in the field, and it is so good to see the excitement around the product return!  From my point of view, there were only a few customer-facing changes on the install side for this release. One of those changes was a shift in how we install Microsoft Visual C++ Runtimes with the product. This blog will attempt to explain that shift and the reasons behind it.

What is a VC Runtime and why do you care? Well, the Microsoft Visual C++ Runtimes are basically a set of files Microsoft delivers to application vendors, like Symantec, who build Windows applications on top of them. Essentially, runtimes provide the interfaces Backup Exec needs to get work done on a Windows system. They are delivered in two ways:

  1. As a standalone installation package that vendors can install before their application
  2. As a "Merge Module" that gets embedded into a Windows Installer package (MSI)

Backup Exec releases prior to 2014 installed the Microsoft Visual C++ Runtimes as part of the base product installation, meaning they were embedded into the main product installation package ("Symantec Backup Exec for Windows Servers.msi"). So, anytime Microsoft released an update to one of the underlying versions of the runtimes we installed, we also had to consider building and delivering a Backup Exec patch to propagate the associated fix(es). Doing so took time to build, test, and release. If the reason Microsoft released a fix was for a security issue, then our time to build, verify, and deliver our patch only further delayed the propagation of that change to our customers.

In the security world we live in, this was not acceptable and therefore required a new approach. That resulted in a shift from embedding the runtime installers within our installation package to providing them on our DVD installation media and having the Backup Exec 2014 installer execute them silently during installation. This adds a minute or two to our installation time; however, it severely decreases the time required to patch them because Microsoft recognizes the standalone Visual C++ Runtime installers in "Windows Live Update," and it will accordingly install any Microsoft-provided patches for them.

I have seen a couple of cases in the forums in which customers copy the RAWS32 or RAWSx64 directories from a media server to their desktop and then try to install the agent locally. Doing so will typically fail because the install is now looking for the runtimes to be present in a relative directory. What that means is that on the DVD, this runtime install folder (VCRedist) is present at the same directory level as the RAWS32/RAWSx64 directory. When our install executes, it tries to execute the standalone installers to ensure that any upgrades required by the runtime installers are completed before Backup Exec installs. This is because the Backup Exec installer now depends on them to be present in that relative directory, and they have to be updated before we install the product and/or any updates. If it cannot find the VCRedist folder, the install will fail with an error. Verify you are not running into this error if you do get a failure.

I hope this helps, and we welcome your feedback,