Extending a Veeam Repository XFS File System

Extending a Veeam Repository XFS File System

Since diving into the Veeam Backup & Replication v11 Linux hardened repository I have started to use XFS in bite-size deployments to gain experience with it. One of the things that will certainly come in handy is extending a Veeam Repository XFS File System. In this blog post, I show to do that.

Mind you that I am doing this with a virtual machine on Hyper-V (Windows Server 2019) in the lab. Not every permutation of hardware and storage controllers you can find. But still, the procedure here will not differ that much.

Determine the size of the current disk.

sudo slblk
Extending a Veeam Repository XFS File System
Ours is the 20 TB disk, sdd, a SCSI disk.

Now take note of the bytes and sectors

sudo fdisk -l 
We just notice the size, bytes and sectors to compare after we extended disk.

Expand the disk

In the virtual machine settings I extend the virtual disk I want to grow with the required capacity.

Extending a Veeam Repository XFS File System
Let’s add 20 TB and make it 30 TB in total.

In real life that might be you growing a raid controllers’ virtual disk by adding physical disks to the raid controller, you expanding the volume on the storage array or simply adding disks to the local server and adding them to the software-based raid solution you use.

The virtual machine will pick up the extra capacity right away. For our UBUNTU 20.04.1 OS to see it up we’ll need to rescan the SCSI busses for change. In a virtual machine, this can be done via rescan-scsi-bus.sh, available scsitools that will need to be installed if not there.

Use the -s options as that will really show the resized disks.

sudo apt-get install scsitools
sudo rescan-scsi-bus.sh -s
Yup, that’s our disk on SCSI controller 1, location 0.

Now let’s check the disk size again

Yes, lsbsk shows 30 TB.
fdisk -l confirms. Note the new bytes and sector values. It has gone up.

Extend the xfs volume to use the unallocated space

Now we need our xfs volume to use the unallocated capacity in this disk. We use -d as this will grow the file system to the largest possible size, 30 TB in our case.

Note: If you run the below command with -n instead of -d, this gives you the current information on your xfs volume with extending the filesystem yet.

sudo xfs_growfs -d /mnt/veeamxfsrepo-03
Extending a Veeam Repository XFS File System
Voila. We are done.

See Ubuntu Manpage: xfs_growfs – expand an XFS filesystem for more options

Note: What I did find is that if you just expand the disk and than extend the xfs file system, it also works. It seems to just work without rescanning the disk after extending it! The disks size in df -h will show this space then as well.

Conclusion

That was it. Short and sweet. There is not much to it once you know how to do it. One thing to remember is that you cannot shrink an XFS file system. So, as always, start smaller and grow when needed. Always leave spare capacity to work with when needed. Yes, even in 2021 this is advice to live by in the storage world. For Veeam this means that multiple smaller repositories or extents give you more wiggle room than fewer very large ones. Leave capacity in reserve, either in a spare repository/extend or unallocated. This, especially combined with a scale-out backup repository in Veeam will allow you to work your self out of most capacity pickles you might find your self in.

Set Max Concurrent Tasks in Veeam with Powershell

Set Max Concurrent Tasks in Veeam with PowerShell

In this blog post, I’ll look at how to set the Max Concurrent Tasks in Veeam with PowerShell. When configuring your Veeam backup environment for the best possible backup performance there are a lot of settings to tweak. The defaults do a good job to get you going fast and well. But when you have more resources it pays to optimize. One of the things to optimize is Max Concurrent Tasks.

NOTE: all PowerShell here was tested against VBR v10a

Where to set max concurrent tasks or task limits

There are actually 4 places (2 specific for Hyper-V) where you can set the this in Veeam for a Hyper-V environment.

  1. Off-host proxy
  2. On-host proxy
  3. File Share Proxy (NEW in V10)
  4. Repository or SOBR extent

Also see https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/backup/hyperv/limiting_tasks.html?ver=100

Use PowerShell to set the Max Concurrent Tasks in Veeam
Max Concurrent Tasks on an off-host proxy
Use PowerShell to set the Max Concurrent Tasks in Veeam
Task limit on the on-host Hyper-V proxy
Use PowerShell to set the Max Concurrent Tasks in Veeam
Max Concurrent tasks on a file proxy (V10)
Use PowerShell to set the Max Concurrent Tasks in Veeam
Limit maximum concurrent tasks on a repository or SOBR extent

Now, let’s dive into those a bit and show the PowerShell to get it configured.

Configuring the proxies

When configuring the on-host or off-host proxies, the max concurrent tasks are based on virtual disks. Let’s look at some examples. 4 virtual machines with a single virtual disk consume 4 concurrent tasks. A single virtual machine with 4 virtual disks also consumes 4 concurrent tasks. 2 virtual machines with 2 virtual disks each consumes, you guessed it, 4 concurrent tasks.

Note that it doesn’t matter if these VMs are in a single job or multiple jobs. The limits are set at the proxy level. So it is the sum of all virtual disks in the VMs of all concurrently running backup jobs. Once you hit the limit, as a result, the remainder of virtual disks (which might translate into complete VMs) will be pending.

set the max concurrent tasks for on-host proxies

#We grab the Hyper-V on-host backup proxies. Note this code does not grab
#any other type of proxies. We set the MaxTasksCount and report back
$MaxTaskCountValueToSet = 12
$HvProxies = [Veeam.Backup.Core.CHvProxy]::GetAll()
$HvProxies.Count
Foreach ($Proxy in $HvProxies) {
    $HyperVOnHostProxy = $proxy.Host.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $proxy.MaxTasksCount
    Write-Host "The on-host Hyper-V proxy $HyperVOnHostProxy has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Yellow
    $options = $Proxy.Options
    $options.MaxTasksCount = $MaxTaskCountValueToSet 
    $Proxy.SetOptions($options)
}

#Report the changes
$HvProxies = [Veeam.Backup.Core.CHvProxy]::GetAll()
Foreach ($Proxy in $HvProxies) {
    $HyperVOnHostProxy = $proxy.Host.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $proxy.MaxTasksCount
    Write-Host "The on-host Hyper-V proxy $HyperVOnHostProxy has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Green
}

set THE MAX CONCURRENT TASKS for off-host proxies

#We grab the Hyper-V off-host backup proxies. Note this code does not grab
#any other type of proxies. We set the MaxTasksCount and report back
$MaxTaskCountValueToSet = 6
$HvOffHostProxies = Get-VBRHvProxy
foreach ($OffhostProxy in $HvOffHostProxies) {
    $HvOffHostProxyName = $OffhostProxy.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $OffhostProxy.MaxTasksCount
    Write-Host "The on-host Hyper-V proxy $HvOffHostProxyName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Yellow
    $Options = $OffhostProxy.Options
    $Options.MaxTasksCount = $MaxTaskCountValueToSet
    $OffhostProxy.SetOptions($Options)
}

#Report the changes
foreach ($OffhostProxy in $HvOffHostProxies) {
    $HvOffHostProxyName = $OffhostProxy.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $OffhostProxy.MaxTasksCount
    Write-Host "The on-host Hyper-V proxy $HvOffHostProxyName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Green
}

PowerShell code to set THE MAX CONCURRENT TASKS for file proxies

#We grab the file proxies. Note this code does not grab
#any other type of proxies. We set the MaxTasksCount and report back
$MaxTaskCountValueToSet = 12
$FileProxies = [Veeam.Backup.Core.CFileProxy]::GetAll()
Foreach ($FileProxy in $FileProxies) {
    $FileProxyName = $FileProxy.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $FileProxy.MaxTasksCount
    Write-Host "The file proxy $FileProxyName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Yellow
    $options = $FileProxy.Options
    $options.MaxTasksCount = $MaxTaskCountValueToSet 
    $FileProxy.SetOptions($options)
}

#Report the changes
$FileProxies = [Veeam.Backup.Core.CFileProxy]::GetAll()
Foreach ($FileProxy in $FileProxies) {
    $FileProxyName = $FileProxy.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $FileProxy.MaxTaskCount
    Write-Host "The file proxy $FileProxyName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Green
}

Last but not least, note that VBR v10 PowerShell also has the Get-VBRNASProxyServer and Set-VBRNASProxyServer commands to work with. However, initially, it seemed not to be reporting the name of the proxies which is annoying. But after asking around I learned it can be found as a property of the Server object it returns. While I was expecting $FileProxy. to exist (based on other Veeam proxy commands) I need to use Name$FileProxy.Server.Name

$MaxTaskCountValueToSet = 4
$FileProxies = Get-VBRNASProxyServer
foreach ($FileProxy in $FileProxies) {
    $FileProxyName = $FileProxy.Server.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $FileProxy.ConcurrentTaskNumber
    Write-Host "The file proxy $FileProxyName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Yellow
    Set-VBRNASProxyServer -ProxyServer $FileProxy -ConcurrentTaskNumber $MaxTaskCountValueToSet
}

#Report the changes
$FileProxies = Get-VBRNASProxyServer
foreach ($FileProxy in $FileProxies) {
    $FileProxyName = $FileProxy.Server.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $FileProxy.ConcurrentTaskNumber
    Write-Host "The file proxy $FileProxyName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Green
}

Configuring the repositories/SOBR extents

First of all, for Backup Repositories, the max concurrent tasks are not based on virtual disks but on backup files (.vbk, .vib & .vrb).

Secondly, you can use either per VM backup files or non-per VM backup files. In the per VM backup files every VM in the job will have its own backup file. So this consumes more concurrent talks in a single job than the non-per VM backup files mode where a single job will have a single file. Let’s again look at some examples to help clarify this. A single backup job in non-per VM mode will use a single backup file and as such one concurrent task regardless of the number of VMs in the job. A single backup job using per VM backup mode will use a single backup file per VM in the job.

What you need to consider with repositories is that synthetic tasks (merges, transformations, synthetic fulls) also consume tasks and count towards the concurrent task limit on a repository/etxent. So when setting it, don’t think is only related to running active backups.

Finally, when you combine roles, please beware the same resources (cores, memory) will have to be used towards those task limits. That also means you have to consider other subsystems like the storage. If that can’t keep up, your performance will suffer.

PowerShell code to set the task limit for a repository/extent

For a standard backup repositories this will do the job

Get-VBRBackupRepository | Set-VBRBackupRepository -LimitConcurrentJobs -MaxConcurrentJobs 24

For the extends of a SOBR you need to use something like this

Get-VBRBackupRepository -ScaleOut | Get-VBRRepositoryExtent | Set-VBRBackupRepository -LimitConcurrentJobs -MaxConcurrentJobs 24

I you put the output of Get-VBRBackupRepository in a foreach next you can also configuret/report on individual Backup repositories when requiered.

#We grab the repositories. Note: use -autoscale if you need to grab SOBR extents.
#We set the MaxTasksCount and report back
$MaxTaskCountValueToSet = 6
$Repositories = Get-VBRBackupRepository
foreach ($Repository in $Repositories) {
    $RepositoryName = $Repository.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $Repository.Options.MaxTaskCount
    Write-Host "The on-host Hyper-V proxy $RepositoryName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Yellow

    Set-VBRBackupRepository -Repository $Repository  -LimitConcurrentJobs -MaxConcurrentJob $MaxTaskCountValueToSet
}

#Report the changes
$Repositories = Get-VBRBackupRepository
foreach ($Repository in $Repositories) {
    $RepositoryName = $Repository.Name
    $MaxTaskCount = $Repository.Options.MaxTaskCount
    Write-Host "The on-host Hyper-V proxy $RepositoryName has a concurrent task limit of $MaxTaskCount" -ForegroundColor Green
}

Conclusion

So I have shown you ways to automate. Similar settings for different purposes. The way off automating differs a bit depending on the type of proxy or if it is a repository. I hope it helps some of you out there.

Troubleshooting 100% stalled Veeam backup jobs

Introduction

Recently I got to diagnose a really interesting Veeam Backup & Replication symptom. Imagine you have a backup environment that runs smoothly. All week long but then, suddenly, running backup jobs stall. News jobs that start do not make an ounce of progress. It is as the state of every job is frozen in time. Let’s investigate and dive into troubleshooting 100% stalled Veeam backup jobs.

That morning, the backup jobs had not made an ounce of progress since the night before and they never will, you can leave this for days sometimes a job in between does seem to work properly, but most often not so the job queue builds up.

Troubleshooting 100% stalled Veeam backup jobs

When looking at the stalled jobs, nothing in the Veeam GUI indicates an error. Looking at the Windows event logs we see no warning, error, or critical messages. All seems fine. As this Veeam environment uses ReFS on storage spaces we are a bit weary. While the bugs that caused slowdowns have been fixed, we are still alert to potential issues. The difference with the know (fixed) ReFS issues that this is no slowdown, No sir, the Veeam backup jobs have literally frozen in time but everything seems to be functional otherwise.

Another symptom of this issue is that the synthetic full backups complete perfectly well, but they finfish with an error message none the less due to a time out. This has no effect on the synthetic backup result (they are usable) but it is disconcerting to see an issue with this.

On top of that, data copies into the ReFS volumes work just fine and at an excellent speed. Via performance monitor, we can see that the rotation of full regions from mirror to parity is also working well once the mirror tier has reached a specified capacity level.

Time to dive into the Veeam logs I would say.

Veeam backup job log

So the next stop is the Veeam logs themselves. While those can seem a little intimidating, they are very useful to scroll through. And sure enough, we find the following in one of the stalled jobs its backup log.

This goes on all through the night …

For hours on end … it goes on that way.

VIRTUAL MACHINE TASK LOGS 1

When we look at the task log of ar virtual machine that is still at 0% we see the same reflected there. Note that nothing happens between 22:465 and 05:30, that’s when I disabled and enabled the vNIC of the preferred networks in the VBR virtual machine and it all sprung back to life.

notice the total stand still form 22:46 to 05:30 …

So it is clear we have a network issue of some sort. We checked the repository servers and the Hyper-V cluster but there everything is just fine. So where is it?

Virtual Machine task logs 2

We dive into the task log of one of the virtual machines who’s backing up and that is hanging at 88%. There we see one after the other reconnect to the repository IP (over the preferred network as defined in VB). That also happens all night long until we reset the VBR virtual machine’s preferred network vNICs. In the log snippet below notice the following:

Error    A connection attempt failed because the connected party did not properly respond after a period of time, or established connection failed because connected host has failed to respond (System.Net.Sockets.SocketException)

From the logs we deduct that the network error appears to be on the VBR virtual machine itself. This is confirmed by the fact that bouncing the vNICs of the preferred network (10.10.110.x is the preferred network subnet) on the VBR virtual machine kicks the jobs back into action. So what is the issue? So we start checking the network configurations and settings. The switch ports, pNICs, vNIC, vSwitches etc. to find out what’s going on, As it seems to work for days or a week before the issue shows up we suspect a jumbo frame issue so we start there.

The solution

While checking the configuration we to make sure jumbo frames are enabled on the vNIC and the pNICs of the vSwitch’s NIC team. That’s when we notice the jumbo frames are missing from those pNICs. So we set those again.

From the VBR virtual machine we run some ping tests. The default works fine.

Troubleshooting 100% stalled Veeam backup jobs

When we test with jumbo frames however we notice something. The ping tests do not complain about jumbo frames being too large and that with the “do not fragment” option set the “Packet needs to be fragmented but DF set.” Note it just says “request timed out”. This indicates an issue right here, jumbo frames are set but they do not work.

Troubleshooting 100% stalled Veeam backup jobs
So the requests time out, it does not complain about the jumbo frames … so we have another issue here than just the jumbo frame settings

As the requests time out and the ping test does not complain about the jumbo frames we have another issue here than just the jumbo frame settings. It smells of a firmware and/or driver issue. So we dive a bit further. That’s when I notice the driver for the relevant pNICs (Broadcom) is the inbox Windows driver. That’s no good. The inbox drivers only exists to be able to go out and fetch the vendor’s driver and firmware when need, as a courtesy so to speak. We copy those to the hosts that require an update. In this case, the nodes where the VBR virtual machine can run. The firmware update requires a reboot. When the host is up and the VBR virtual machine is running I test again.

Bingo, now a ping test succeeds.

Troubleshooting 100% stalled Veeam backup jobs
Success

What happened?

So did we really forget to update the drivers? Did we walk out of the offices to go in lockdown for the Corona crisis and forget about it? In the end, it turned out they did run the updates for the physical hosts. But for some reason, the Broadcom firmware and drivers did not get updated properly. However, that failed update seems to have also removed the Jumbo frame settings from the pNICs that are used for the virtual switch. After fixed both of these we have not seen the issue return.

Remarks

The preferred networks do not absolutely have to be present on the VBR server itself. Define, yes, present, no. But it speeds up backup job initialization a lot when they are there present on the VBR server and Veeam also indicates to do so in their documentation.

Why jumbo frames? Ah well the networks we use for the preferred networks are end to end jumbo frame enabled. So we maintain this in to the VBR server. We might get away by not setting jumbo frames on the VBR server but we want to be consistent.

Conclusion

It pays to make sure you have all settings correctly configured and are running the latest and greatest known good firmware. But that should have been the case here. And it all worked so well for quite a while before the backup jobs stall. The issue can lie in the details and sometimes things are not what you assume they are. Always verify and verify it again.

I hope this helps someone out there if they are ever troubleshooting 100% stalled Veeam backup jobs If you need help, reach out in the comments. There are a lot of very experienced and respected people around in my network that can help. Maybe even I can lend a hand and learn something along the way.

Use cases for devnodeclean.exe

Use cases for devnodeclean.exe

So what are use cases for devnodeclean.exe, and what is it? Windows creates an entry in the registry for every new device that is connected. That also goes for storage devices, including VSS shadow copies.

When you create a lot of VSS snapshots, both software (windows) or hardware (SAN) based ones that get mounted and unmounted this creates a lot of the registry entries. Normally these should get cleaned up by the process creating them. Microsoft can take care of their use cases but they cannot do this for 3rd party software as Windows cannot know the intent of that software. Hence you might end up with a registry system hive that starts to bloat. When that hive gets big enough you will notice slowdowns in shutdown and restarts. These slowdowns can become very long and even lead to failure to boot Windows.

This can happen with SAN hardware VSS provider backup software or with a backup solution that integrates with SAN hardware VSS providers. Mind you it is not limited to hardware VSS providers. It can also happen with software VSS providers. Microsoft actually had this as a bug with Hyper-V backups a long time ago. A hotfix fixed the issue by removing the registry entries the backups created.

But not all software will do this. Not even today. The better software does, but even Veeam only provided this option in VBR 9.5 Update 4. Mind you, Veeam is only responsible for what they control via storage integrations. When you leverage an off-host proxy with Hyper-V Veeam collaborates with the hardware VSS provider but does not orchestrate the transportable snapshots itself. So in that case the clean up is the responsibility of the SAN vendor’s software.

Another use case I have is file servers on a SAN being backup and protected via hardware VSS snapshots with the SAN vendors software. That also leads to registry bloat.

I never had any issues as I clean up the phantom registry entries preemptively. Veeam actually published a KB article as well on this before they fixed it in their code.

Still, if you need to clean up existing phantom registry entries you will need to use a tool call devnoceclean.exe.

Preventing registry bloat

When the software responsible doesn’t prevent registry bloat you will have to clean up the phantom registry entries in another way. Doing this manually is tedious and not practical. So, let’s forget about that option.

You can write your own code or script to take care of this issue. Cool if you can but realize you need to be very careful what you delete in the registry. Unless you really know your way around the depths of storage-related entries in the registry I suggest using a different approach, which I’ll discuss next.

Another solution is to use the Microsoft provided tool devnodeclean.exe. This tool is Microsft’s version of its example code you can find here How to remove registry information for devices that will never be used again

You can download that tool here. Extract it and grab the .exe that fits your OS architecture, x86, or x64 bit. I usually put in the subfolder Bin under C:\SysAdmin\Tools\DevNodeClean\ where I also create a subfolder named Logs. Remember you need to run this with elevated permissions. devnodeclean.exe /n list the entries it will remove while just running it without a switch actually removes the entries. It will work with Windows Server 2012(R2), 2016, and 2019. It can take a while if you have many thousands of entries.

Use cases for devnodeclean.exe
Use cases for devnodeclean.exe

While you can run the tool manually in “one-off” situations normally you’ll want to run it automatically and regularly. For that, I use a PowerShell script that logs the actions and I use Task Scheduler to run it every day or week. that depends on the workload on that host.

Sample Code

Below is some sample code to get you started.

$TimeStamp = $(((get-date)).ToString("yyyyMMddTHHmmss"))
$PathToDevNodeClean = 'C:\SysAdmin\Tools\DevNodeClean'
Start-Transcript -Path "$PathToDevNodeClean\Logs\DevNodeCleanLog-$TimeStamp.txt"
Write-Output get-date ': Starting registry cleanup of phantom VSS entries'
Invoke-Expression "$PathToDevNodeClean\Bin\DevNodeClean.exe"
Write-Output get-date 'Cleaning up old log files'

$DaysToRetain = 0
$DateTime = ((Get-Date).AddDays(-$DaysToRetain))
$AllLogFilesInDevNodeClean = Get-ChildItem -Path "$PathToDevNodeClean\Logs" -Filter "DevNodeCleanLog-*.txt" -Force -File | Where-Object { $_.CreationTime -lt $DateTime }

foreach ($File in $AllLogFilesInDevNodeClean) {
    $FileName = $File.FullName
    $TimeStamp = Get-Date
    try {
        Remove-Item -Path $FileName -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
        Write-Output "$TimeStamp > Deleting file $FileName because it was created before $DateTime"
    } 
    catch {
        Write-Output "$TimeStamp > Failed to delete $FileName It is probably in use" 
        Write-Output $TimeStamp $_.Exception.Message
    }
    finally {      
    }
}
Stop-Transcript 

Good luck with your devnodeclean.exe adventures. As with any sample code, big boy rules apply, use it at your own risk and test before letting this lose on your production systems.

This is just one example of how my long time experience with Windows storage and backups prevents problems in environments I manage or design. If you need help or have a question, reach out and we’ll try to help.