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Restoration service for EMC Networker NDMP archives


This is a case study about an NDMP restoration project, if you need to use our tape restoration service for your NDMP backups contact us at any time using the details on the right of the page or click here to be taken to our tape restoration section.


Managing a tape archive once the hardware and application environment has been retired is a problem faced by many an IT department. Do you attempt to maintain enough of the legacy systems to be able to maintain some semblance of a restore capability, or do you look to a specialist tape restoration services company for the answer?


In this case a large financial services company held an archive of about 1900 LTO4 tapes, these contained backups from Windows systems and NetApp filers written to tape by EMC NetWorker. The backups from the NetApp filers being NDMP backups, with the added complication that as the NetApp devices were acting as SANs, data on the NetApp device were held within NTFS “images”. In effect the data on the tapes was “backups, within backups, within backups”.

The archive was now static, new systems being put in place a couple of years earlier, but the ability to restore email or file share data for specific users was still required. There was no catalogue remaining of the tape contents, the filer hardware had been decommissioned, and knowledge of how the backups had been performed was becoming a scarce.


The re-creation of a catalogue of the contents of the tapes was the first objective. This needed to be more than just a catalogue of the NetWorker level data but to access both the NDMP level data and the NTFS data therein so that the resultant catalogue would store the depth of information for true contents recognition. Key to this operation was that any restore request should result in us being able to identify which tapes were required to be able to restore from any requested file share or Exchange backup from a specified date.

Reading the tapes to create the new catalogue took place over 6 weeks, then the painful proof-of-process testing began, with the backlog of “live” restore requests as the test data. Sometimes what people believe when they specify a job is not how things work out and as requests for restorations piled in there were plenty of process changes required, fortunately the catalogue was comprehensive enough so we did not have to re-visit the tapes.


A managed tape restoration service now exists where our customer gives us 4 key pieces of information from which we can identify the required tapes and request them from the archive, the restore is done, the tapes returned to the archive and the restored data provided to the customer on encrypted disk. A basic restore takes a few days (in emergencies a same day service can be provided) and the restore process is a totally quantifiable unit based cost.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:31)

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