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BakBone Software Ltd 1 July 2006 A MULTI VOLUME VDL Step-by-step configuration guide By Peter de Vente, BakBone Software 25 JULY 2006 Company Confidential BakBone Software Ltd 100 Longwater Avenue, Green Park, Reading, RG2 6GP Mobile: +31 (0)6 1505 1313 Phone: +44 (0)1189 224 800 Fax: +44 (0)1189 224 899

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  • BakBone Software Ltd 1 July 2006

    A MULTI VOLUME VDL Step-by-step configuration guide

    By Peter de Vente, BakBone Software

    25 JULY 2006

    Company Confidential

    BakBone Software Ltd

    100 Longwater Avenue, Green Park, Reading, RG2 6GP

    Mobile: +31 (0)6 1505 1313 Phone: +44 (0)1189 224 800 Fax: +44 (0)1189 224 899

  • BakBone Software Ltd 2 July 2006


    By default any VDL generated with the NetVault:Backup GUI will be a single

    volume VDL. Since version 7.4 it is possible to create multi volume VDLs and

    this will help to overcome the file system limits of certain operating systems.

    This guide explains how to configure a multi volume VDL. It is tested on

    Windows, but except for the screen shots the procedure for Linux and UNIX

    is the same.

    For any comments, enhancements or suggestions, please mail Peter de Vente

    at [email protected]


    Version 1 - First release, Windows only screen shots, tested on 7.4.2.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 3 July 2006

    VDL – A Short Explanation

    The Virtual Disk Library (VDL) is the implementation of ‘backup to disk’ by

    NetVault:Backup. The VDL acts just like a real tape library and can/must be

    handled as such. It has drives, slots and media, all being virtual, of course. A

    VDL is using the file system of the NetVault Server or SmartClient.

    The picture above shows the layout of a VDL on disk. In this case the VDL is

    generated on a Windows file system. The VDL has its own .serial file. This file

    is just holding the name of the VDL, don’t change this. There are three1

    directories, named slots, drives and media.

    1 VDLs can have entry/exit ports. If this is configured, then there will also be a ports

    directory. This guide will ignore this setting.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 4 July 2006


    In the drives directory the following layout can be found:

    Each (virtual) drive is represented by a directory. The number of drives can

    be changed, but it is not enough just by adding directories. In each directory

    a .serial file can be found. In this file the serial number of the drive can be

    found. Do not move or change this file or its contents.


    In the slots directory the following layout can be found:

    For every slot in the VDL there is one directory. Each directory has a unique

    number. It makes sense that the numbering starts with 1 and all others are

    incremented with 1, but a slot can have any number ;-).

    In each slot there is just one file, named .media. This file holds just one line

    of text.

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    This line of text is stating the location of the media file. Changing this file or

    removing it without a good reason, will result in a non-functional VDL and

    loss of data.


    The slots and drives directories do not hold any backup data, only the .serial

    and .media files. In the media directory the backup data is held in virtual

    tapes. A virtual tape is represented by a file with the size of the virtual tape.

    The minimal size of a virtual tape is 50 megabytes. The following layout can

    be found in a (small) VDL:

    Even though each media file is using the full capacity of the virtual tape, in

    reality all tapes could be blank and therefore from a NetVault:Backup view

    could still be empty. The (internal) usage of the virtual media can only be

    seen with the NetVault:Backup GUI. The usage on the file system layer is

    always 100%.

    With the .media file the relationship between slots and drives and the media

    files is made. The following drawing shows the relationship:

  • BakBone Software Ltd 6 July 2006


























    .media - WordPad.media - WordPad


    Points towards

    As explained earlier the .media file holds the location of the media file.

    Moving media

    When using the VDL within NetVault:Backup it can/must be operated as a

    real tape library. Virtual tapes (media) can be positioned in a slot or a drive,

    but never in multiple slots or drives at the same time, just like the real world.

    When moving a tape from a slot to a drive only the .media file is moved, not

    the media file it self. The media file will never be moved by NetVault:Backup,

    only the .media files are moved. This means that if the media file pointing to

    virtual media ‘demo-008’ is moved to the directory ‘../drives/4’, within

    NetVault:Backup the tape is loaded in drive 4.

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    When selecting unload within the device manager in the NetVault:Backup

    GUI, the .media file will be moved back to the original slot directory


  • BakBone Software Ltd 8 July 2006

    Layout of a Multi Volume VDL

    With the understanding of the single volume VDL in mind, it is not difficult to

    imagine a VDL that is spread over multiple volumes. It makes no sense in

    spreading the slots and drives directories. They hold no backup data, but

    only the .serials and .media files. On Windows those files will only take 4 KB

    each. A large VDL with 500 slots and 24 drives will use (500 + 24 + 1) 2.1

    MB of disk space. The media files will take a lot of space and will be spread

    over more than one volume. An example would be to have 5 volumes, each

    holding 100 media files (virtual tapes). When a single media file is 10 GB in

    size, one volume will hold one TB of data.

    The next drawing shows the layout of a multi volume VDL:

  • BakBone Software Ltd 9 July 2006



















    My Computer

    System (C:)

    Data1 (D:)











    Data2 (E:)























    In this example the VDL is using three volumes. One volume is holding the

    slots and drives directories (C:) and the other two volumes (D: and E:) are

    holding the media files, each having eight of them. The media files must

    have unique names.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 10 July 2006

    Step-by-step Guide

    To create a multi volume VDL there are several ways that will do the job.

    This guide will describe one, but does not claim to be the best, most efficient

    or simplest way. Any suggestions are welcome.


    Before starting, the volumes to be used must be up and running. There is no

    need to have the volumes to be the same size, but it makes life easier in the

    next steps if they are.

    VDLs need normal file systems to be placed on. Don’t use compression or

    encryption on the file systems used by VDLs. Both will decrease the speed of

    the overall NetVault:Backup environment.

    The creation of the new VDL is split in a few steps:

    1. Creation of a small VDL with all the needed drives.

    2. Creation of the needed slots.

    3. Creation of the needed .media files.

    4. Creation of the media files.

    5. Configuring the extended VDL.

    Step 2, 3 and 4 can be automated with scripts, but there is no exclusive way

    how to perform these steps.

    In this example the VDL will use three different locations (volumes):

    1. Slots and drives at C:\Volume1

    2. Eight media files at C:\Volume2

    3. Eight media files at C:\Volume3

    Lack of hardware prevented to have real volumes, but the principle will be

    the same.

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    Step 1: Creation of a small VDL with all the needed drives

    1. Start the NetVault:Backup GUI.

    2. Go to Device Management.

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    3. Select Add.

    4. Select Add Library.

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    5. Right-click the NetVault Server or NetVault SmartClient where the VDL

    should be configured. For SmartClients additional licenses are needed.

    Make sure the license keys are installed before continuing.

    6. Select ‘Create virtual library’ from the menu.

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    7. Fill in the correct settings for the new VDL.

    Library location = C:\Volume1 (slots and drives only)

    Library name = VDL (example only, choose something you like)

    Barcode prefix = demo- (example only, same a s above)

    Number of drives = 4 (this should be the amount you need for the

    total VDL, depending on your license this can be limited.)

    Number of slots = 1 (we will make the rest by hand)

    Media capacity (MB) = 50 (this is the minimum, the correct media

    files will be made in a next step)

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    8. Press OK when finished filling in the fields as described.

    9. Depending of your settings you will find a similar layout on your first



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    Step 2: Creation of the needed slots

    In our example we need 16 slots, holding 16 media file pointers (.media). In

    the first step we only made one slot, so we need another 15. This can be

    done by hand or by using a script.

    1. Create a script that makes 15 new directories in the slots directory.

    See example below.

    Put the script at the root of the Volume1 directory. To make 15 more slots in

    the C:\Volume1\VDL directory execute the following command:

    makeslots 2 16 VDL

    2. Check the slots directory to see if all 16 slots are there.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 17 July 2006

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    Step 3: Creation of the needed .media files

    After the previous step only the directory 1 under the slots directory has a

    .media file. All other slots are empty. The slots should be filled with .media

    files pointing to the other two volumes.

    In this example the first eight slots will point to C:\Volume2\VDL and the last

    eight slots will point to C:\Volume3\VDL.

    1. Create a script that makes the correct .media files. See example


    2. Execute the script for the first 8 slots.

    makedotmedia demo- C:\Volume2\VDL\media C:\Volume1\VDL\slots 1 8

    3. Execute the script for the last 8 slots (watch out, other volume!)

    makedotmedia demo- C:\Volume3\VDL\media C:\Volume1\VDL\slots 9 16

    4. Check one or two .media files to see if they are correct.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 19 July 2006

    This is the .media file of slot 1:

    This is the .media file of slot 10:

    Make sure that each .media is conform the following rules:

    • If there are no leading zeros in the media names, e.g. demo-1 (demo-

    001), add them.

    • Make sure there is only a single line in the file (no CR’s, LFs, empty

    lines etc.)

  • BakBone Software Ltd 20 July 2006

    Step 4: Creation of the media files

    Next step is to fill the volumes with the media files (virtual tapes). This can

    be done by a NetVault:Backup tool called nvmakemedia. Make sure that

    the complete path towards the media files is present as the tool will

    not make them and will fail if the path is not present! This means that

    if you defined that a media file must be present at C:\Volume2\VDL\media,

    this path must be there before using the nvmakemedia tool.

    1. Open a command box.

    2. Go to the NetVault:Backup utililties directory.

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    3. Execute the nvmakemedia tool without options to see how the tool

    must be used.

    4. Execute the nvmakemedia tool to create the missing media for the

    VDL. In this example 50m (smallest possible) is chosen for file size.

    5. If any media is missing you will be prompted to have it be created.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 22 July 2006

    6. Type Y for any media that is missing, check that the correct path will

    be used.

    7. To check if all needed media are created, execute the same command


  • BakBone Software Ltd 23 July 2006

  • BakBone Software Ltd 24 July 2006

    Step 5: Configuring the extended VDL

    To finalize the procedure, the VDL must be configured within the

    NetVault:Backup GUI.

    1. Go to Device Management in the NetVault:Backup GUI.

    2. Double-click on the NetVault Server of SmartClient to open it.

    3. Select the newly created VDL in the tab ‘Library Selection’.

    4. Select the ‘Drive Selection’ tab.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 25 July 2006

    5. Double-click on the NetVault Server or SmartClient to open it.

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    6. For each drive in the ‘Choose Drives’ window on the left a ‘Drive Bay’

    must be selected. For bay 1 of 4 double-click on the first drive.

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    7. Increase the ‘Select for drive bay’ number with one (press on the


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    8. Double-click on the second drive.

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    9. Repeat step 15 and 16 for drives 3 and 4.

    10. Select the ‘Configure’ tab.

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    Each drive should belong to a drive bay.

    11. Give the VDL a normal name in the field ‘Library Name’.

    12. Click on the save button.

  • BakBone Software Ltd 31 July 2006

    13. You should now have a Multi Volume VDL. Congratulations!