Use VSS snapshots to backup NAS on your NetApp FAS system

With Veeam Backup & Replication version 10, it’s possible to back up NAS shares with the SMB (CIFS) and NFS protocol. One of the challenges with backing up large file shares is doing so in a consistent state. This blog post shows how to create a consistent backup of an SMB share hosted on a NetApp FAS storage by using Microsoft VSS snapshots.

NetApp storage snapshot or Microsoft VSS snapshot?

Veeam offers two ways to back up a NAS share in a consistent state. Veeam Backup & Replication can leverage Microsoft VSS snapshots to trigger a NetApp snapshot or it can use a pre-defined snapshot path (see figure 1). Using an alternative snapshot path allows complex scenarios like backing up from a SnapMirror/SnapVault location but it involves scripting or a schedule on NetApp to create and delete the snapshots.

With the Microsoft VSS snapshot integration by NetApp, no scripting is required. Veeam Backup & Replication triggers a Microsoft VSS snapshot and NetApp translates this into a NetApp storage snapshot. This simplifies configuration and is configured in three steps.

VSS snapshot in Veeam Backup & Replication.
Figure 1: VSS snapshot in Veeam Backup & Replication.

Step 1: Enable Microsoft VSS on the NetApp storage

The capability to trigger VSS snapshots on a NetApp FAS system is disabled per default. The configuration is based per SVM (storage virtual machine/vServer). The NetApp support center describes how to do it by running the following command with advanced privileges (see Figure 2).

vserver cifs options modify -vserver SVM_CIFS -shadowcopy-enabled true

Enable VSS on NetApp
Figure 2: Enable VSS on NetApp.

Step 2: Do a dry run with Windows command line

The dry run is an optional step but I recommend doing it to make sure that the Veeam backup itself runs smoothly in step 3. The Windows built-in “diskshadow” tool allows to create VSS snapshots also on network shares. A Technet blogpost has all the details but it only takes a few commands to test:

1) Start an elevated CMD prompt (“Run as administrator”) and run diskshadow

2) In the diskshadow tool, run the following three commands (See figure 3)

 Begin backup
 Add volume \\path-to-your\share
 Create 

Creating a snapshot with diskshadow.
Figure 3: Creating a snapshot with diskshadow.

NOTE: In case you’re using an IP address instead of a DNS name for the server name, make sure that reverse DNS is configured correctly for that IP address. Otherwise, the VSS snapshot command will fail.

Step 3: Configure NAS backup in Veeam Backup & Replication

Finally, we need to add the SMB share to Veeam Backup & Replication and create a NAS backup job. When you add a new SMB share to the inventory, make sure you enable “Backup from a Microsoft VSS snapshot” (See figure 1).  

Configure the NAS backup job according to your needs. There is nothing special to configure for the VSS snapshots as it uses the share settings configured before. In the job log you can see the VSS snapshot creation (See figure 4).

VSS snapshot used during NAS backup.
Figure 4: VSS snapshot used during NAS backup.

On the NetApp system, you can also see the snapshot on the NetApp (Figure 5).

NetApp snapshot in OnCommand Manager.
Figure 5: NetApp snapshot in OnCommand Manager.

After the backup job completes, Veeam will delete this temporary NetApp snapshot automatically.

NOTE: FlexGroup volumes currently do not support remote VSS.

Summary

Using Microsoft VSS snapshots with NetApp is a very easy way to achieve consistent NAS share backups. It only takes a few commands to configure and scripting is not required. Other NAS filers probably also support remote VSS snapshots in a similar way.

Hannes Kasparick
Hannes Kasparick
Hannes Kasparick has been working in the IT business since 2004. Today Hannes is a member of the Veeam product management team.
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