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OK... I have a Volume Shadow Copies / Previous Versions Issue! RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,
     
    Brief history; could be unrelated:

    A disk failed, I had PP1 but the disk failed before the patch and I lost data!

    I removed the disk from the console, but I kept having an issue where the Network Alert was saying there was a missing disk.

    A kind soul on here told me how to get rid of the error (A registry edit).

    I have now restored from backups all my lost data... Phew!

    Everything seemed to be alright.

    Until I accidentally deleted one of my files, I thought no worries I'll just go to my previous versions tab and restore it. I can see the file in the previous versions tab and dragged and dropped the file to my desktop. But then I get the error 'Can not copy <filename>: The device is not connected' All devices are connected. 

    I thought this may be a one off. So I purposely created a text file yesterday to test it. Sure enough it crops up in previous versions, as of midnight last night, so I deleted the file and tried to restore and I get the same result!

    I am very nervous that WHS is not doing its job correctly.

    Can anyone give me some things to check out?

    Regards,

    John.
    Tuesday, October 14, 2008 2:12 PM

Answers

  • I don't have any specifics to share on the reason the VSS issue is difficult, I'm afraid. In general layman's terms, I believe it has to do with how files are synchronized between the drives. Remember that the files may have VSS snapshots on as many as three drives: the system drive (where the file tombstone lives), and one or two (in a duplication scenario) secondary drives, where the actual file lives. Because of the way VSS storage is managed, it seems likely to me that DE can't force a consistent view of your files between all three locations. In addition, your VSS snapshots (previous versions) are only available on drives that have at least one share explicitly defined and active on that drive. So there are scenarios where you can access the tombstone's VSS snapshots, but not the file shadow's snapshots on whatever drives they're on.

    I would call this an unanticipated result of the way Drive Extender works, rather than a bug. I say this because Previous Versions isn't actually mentioned as a feature of Windows Home Server. Do I wish they worked consistently? Yes, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. As for fixing it, I suspect that it would require changes to VSS, and (since this version of Windows Home Server is based on Windows Server 2003, an OS that's approaching end-of-life) it may not be practical to fix it. But I don't know this for a fact (see my .sig), it's just a guess on my part.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Villa Elsa Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:40 AM
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 7:42 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • John, Drive Extender is effectively not fully compatible with Previous Versions. There are a number of posts and bug reports around this, and this FAQ post (by me). Microsoft is aware of the issue, but it isn't easy to solve, and there is no projected timeline for a resolution.

    Bottom line: You should not rely on Previous Versions on your home server.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, October 14, 2008 9:21 PM
    Moderator
  • If the file is urgently needed, you still may have a chance to access this.
    Be aware, that following method is unsupported, may not work in every case and is potentially dangerous. Do not try it, while a backup or restore job is running. I tested this on my machine and succeeded in recovering a previous file version, but this does not mean, that the procedure always will function.
    • Logon locally to your WHS.
    • In Start menu, right click on My Computer and select Manage.
    • In Storage/Disk Management find the disks, which are part of the storage pool and without drive letter.
    • Right click the partitions on them and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
    • Assign a drive letter.
    • After confirming, click Start/Run.
    • Enter the command \\server\D$ (replace server with the name of your server and instead of D use the assigned drive letter - but also drive D: could contain your data in some cases, so don't leave it out).
    • In Explorer under Tools/Options/View enable Show hidden files and folders.
    • Navigate to the folder DE\shares on the opened administrative share (the one with the $ on the end). You need to use the access via a share instead of direct drive access, because you will not get the Previous Versions offered for local accessed disks.
    • Right click on the share or the sub folder where your lost file should be, click Properties and check, if you find the Previous versions tab.
    • If yes, check, if your file is there and copy it to a better place.
    • If no or if the file is not there, close the window, remove the fresh assigned drive letter in disk management and try the same procedure with the next disk.
    • If finished, also do not forget to remove the assigned drive letter (unless the drive was drive D:).
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 11:03 AM
    Moderator
  • Thank you Ken & Olaf for your replies.

    Olaf, I tried your interesting methods but no joy!

    Ken, I find your FAQ post disturbing, this seems to be yet another 'feature' that does not work, the list is getting a little to long for my liking:

    Firstly we can't store 'certain' types of file for fear of corruption.
    Then we loose data because something that did work was broken in an 'improvement' and now another killer feature might work on the last wednesday in the month if the wind is in the right direction!!!

    I am spending most of my day and night worrying about what they are going to find/introduce next, that's going to eat data!

    Why don't Microsoft get a bit more pro-active in fixing these issues or at the very least make users blatantly aware of what they are getting themselves into when they open WHS. I mean like a big warning flashing up on the screen saying 'Are you seriously considering storing data on this server... Good Luck!'

    Consider this rant over.

    Regards,

    John.
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:27 PM
  • So the previous version could have been on the broken disk and only the previous tombstone to that version was still there.

    I would say, it is not so harsh as it looks for you. Many people use WHS without running in to data loss scenarios. If there would be many of them, the forums would be much more flooded, I think.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:36 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Olaf,
     
    This is not the case this file was placed on the server after the disk loss and after I installed a new disk.

    Oddly I can see the file listed when I look at previous versions normally but not using your method.

    Regards,

    John.
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:40 PM
  • I don't have any specifics to share on the reason the VSS issue is difficult, I'm afraid. In general layman's terms, I believe it has to do with how files are synchronized between the drives. Remember that the files may have VSS snapshots on as many as three drives: the system drive (where the file tombstone lives), and one or two (in a duplication scenario) secondary drives, where the actual file lives. Because of the way VSS storage is managed, it seems likely to me that DE can't force a consistent view of your files between all three locations. In addition, your VSS snapshots (previous versions) are only available on drives that have at least one share explicitly defined and active on that drive. So there are scenarios where you can access the tombstone's VSS snapshots, but not the file shadow's snapshots on whatever drives they're on.

    I would call this an unanticipated result of the way Drive Extender works, rather than a bug. I say this because Previous Versions isn't actually mentioned as a feature of Windows Home Server. Do I wish they worked consistently? Yes, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. As for fixing it, I suspect that it would require changes to VSS, and (since this version of Windows Home Server is based on Windows Server 2003, an OS that's approaching end-of-life) it may not be practical to fix it. But I don't know this for a fact (see my .sig), it's just a guess on my part.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Marked as answer by Villa Elsa Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:40 AM
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 7:42 PM
    Moderator
  • Thank you Ken, your post is appreciated.

    All I can say is that I am experiencing a few to many "unanticipated results". That I prefer to call Bugs!

    I would be more than happy to have experienced any of the above results in a beta. But these are pretty big issues in a final release.

    Let's hope that a new incarnation of what could be an excellent product sufaces, that has a lot more testing before release, in the not to distant future.

    Regards,

    John.
    Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:39 AM