Standalone backup agent for Microsoft Windows servers and workstations (formerly Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE)
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Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Jul 22, 2017 1:54 pm 1 person likes this post

Is there really no way to validate an volume-level Agent backup without performing a restore to a spare drive?

My Win10 PC decided not to boot today and so I really needed to perform a bare metal restore. I do a volume backup each night and I already had created a Veeam Recovery Media so thought I would be ok. But after just a few seconds of trying to perform the volume restore, Veeam Agent declared an error - failed to decompress LZ4 block - and stopped. I have it set to keep 22 days so I tried various restore points and they all failed the same way, including the oldest backup dated 22 days ago. Yet the backups never indicated any error when they ran.

Is the only way I can validate the backups is to get another drive big enough to perform a restore to (3TB including my other drive''s backup), and do that every few days? And if it goes wrong then I need to delete the backup chain and start the volume backup from scratch? I was a True Image user for a few years till it stopped being reliable. I moved across to Veeam last year and it seems superb, but my first restore attempt when I actually needed it has not left a good impression, I'm afraid. FWIW I would gladly pay a reasonable amount software that (a) allowed multiple backups (another topic I realise), and (b) had a validation option for the backup.

Or is there already a convenient way to validate a Veeam Agent backup? I see there is a backup validator for another Veeam product https://www.veeam.com/kb2086 but I don't see mention of it for Agent. Thanks.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Technogod » Jul 22, 2017 11:36 pm

Can you open the .vbk file and perform a FLR (File Level Restore)? If not, keep working your way backwards through the restore points. Do any of the restore points open? FLR is the 2nd best way to verify your backup. I perform a bare metal restore using a VM to test my backups. I don't perform bare metal restores to test my backups on a regular basis. The disk where your backups are stored. Does it have any smart disk errors? I would also scan the backup drive using chkdsk x: /f /r When backup drives start showing smart errors I replace them. I use stablebit scanner to check my drives.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Mike Resseler » Jul 24, 2017 6:52 am

Any change you have somewhere a Hyper-V server lying around and you are pushing your backups to a Veeam B&R repository?. This is something I use often: https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/agent ... tml?ver=20

Second: Did you contact support? Even if you are using the free version, please create a support case through the UI (and don't forget to post the support case # here and the follow-up after that)

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Jul 24, 2017 7:21 am

Hi Technogod and hi Mike.

Thanks for your replies. I'm a software dev working from home so no server software unfortunately.

It was Saturday morning and I needed the PC working so I could do some work, so in my haste and assuming support would not be around much that day to assist, I did not contact them. Thanks for letting me know they assist even with the free edition.

I expect file-level restore of specific files would have worked - I have now deleted the backup chain and started another one as I got around the boot problems in the end by manually reverting to an older copy of the registry.

I really do question the need to perform a restore to verify a backup. OK, that is the ultimate test but it's far from practical to use on a daily or regular basis. So if we are honest with ourselves then each time Veeam Agent performs a volume backup (full or incremental) we have no idea if it would actually work for a volume restore. I hope Veeam is looking into offering a verify-after-backup option, as exists on most other backup software. Such a validation may never be able to provide 100% guarantee that a restore would work. However, if validation did find an issue then we would know about it and could do something, before the backup is actually needed.

I'm going to continue using Veeam Agent for file-level backups. It's the best designed backup software I have used, fast to backup (when used in volume mode), and I've never had any crashes/weird behaviour ever with it. Kudos to the developers for that. But the ability to validate a backup in a practical, regular way is a fundamental requirement, I would suggest. I'm going to use something else for volume backups for the moment.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Mike Resseler » Jul 24, 2017 7:48 am 1 person likes this post

Our engineers are reading these forums also. So they will consider this a vote for a feature request. We do get a lot of requests though so I cannot make any promises when this functionality will arrive

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Jul 24, 2017 7:56 am

Thanks Mike. It's appreciated.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by chaycock » Jul 24, 2017 3:05 pm 1 person likes this post

I had the exact same thing happen. It really shakes my confidence in the product. You would think that at least the merge process would notice the problem and throw an alert.

Perhaps something could be added to the merge process so it can certify the integrity of the backup if there is not going to be a separate process made available that can check it.

I assume Merge has to read the base backup anyhow, so why not add some integrity checking.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Technogod » Jul 24, 2017 3:40 pm

When you had the problem did you try an FLR? If so, did the volume open and let you browse files? If so, were you able to restore any files?

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by chaycock » Jul 24, 2017 5:02 pm

>When you had the problem did you try an FLR? If so, did the volume open and let you browse files? If so, were you able to restore any files?

I did not for several reasons:

1) I was not aware that you could do that
2) I needed a bare metal restore to bring the machine up, so doing FLR would not have done me any good
3) The base backup file was corrupt so even if I had known about FLR, I would have assumed it would not work since the base file was corrupt.

In my situation, I had no individual restore points, just the base, which is how I know it was the base that was corrupt.

This really should not be that difficult for them to implement as I suspect they could work it in with the Merge routine that runs after every 'incremental' backup. However, doing it at merge time would only help if you are doing additional backups, it would not help to certify 'stand-alone' backups.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Jul 29, 2017 12:44 pm

I've now got myself an external USB drive so I can do a test restore to check if my current backup chain is ok. But I cannot work out how to restore to this drive - Veeam Agent wants to restore to the original disk drives. Any clues how to do a volume restore to a different drive please? (I only have Veeam Agent for Windows, no other Veeam software.) Thank you.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Technogod » Jul 29, 2017 7:07 pm

You would need an internal drive you could restore to.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Jul 29, 2017 9:03 pm

Hmm really? If that is the case then I'm quite quickly losing my enthusiasm for Veeam Agent as my backup software. Such a shame as it is great to use. But there is no way to validate a backup, and no way to even do a test restore unless I fit another drive inside my PC. I don't understand why it would differentiate between restoring to an internal or external drive.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Technogod » Jul 29, 2017 11:23 pm

It won't restore to a USB drive. It will only backup to a USB drive.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by chaycock » Jul 30, 2017 2:58 am 1 person likes this post

I keep beating this dead-horse, but there is really no reason we should have to do an actual restore to anything. There should be a process that reads the backup file as though it is going to restore but just does not actually write any data. This should be dead-simple to do, after all, the code to read the backup file is already written as part of the current restore code.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Jul 30, 2017 7:28 am 3 people like this post

I totally agree. It could be argued that an unvalidated backup is not a backup at all. We are simply trusting to luck if the backup works.

I've seen requests/suggestions for validation of Veeam Endpoint dating back till Jan 2015 (veeam-agent-for-windows-f33/feature-req ... 25320.html) so two and half years on I have to assume Veeam do not see validation as a fundamental requirement of backup software. That does astound me. Veeam have a validator already - https://www.veeam.com/kb2086 - but it is not supplied with Veeam Agent and it not available via download AFAICS. (Is the backup file format different for Veeam Agent meaning this would not work? Or if not, I wonder what the reason is for excluding Veeam Agent users.)

For me, until validation is possible, I am intending to switch back to True Image. True Image is a horrible bit of software to use in some ways and troublesome when it comes to dealing with removable media such as USB drives that I use for storing backups, but at least it validates.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Technogod » Jul 30, 2017 8:12 pm

Backups are different so it would not work.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Jul 31, 2017 8:55 am

Thanks for the info.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by yasuda » Jul 31, 2017 2:43 pm 1 person likes this post

If there were a way to run a test from command line, even if it were a very simple test that at least verifies the backup files are in a condition that allows them to be restored, that would be great. As Carlton suggested, run the restore to /dev/null ($null or nul). There will be no guarantee that there is no file level corruption, but it's a lot better than nothing.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Technogod » Aug 02, 2017 2:37 am

Currently the only way to test is to run a FLR unless you are running B&R. B&R has a health check.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by RobinW » Aug 07, 2017 1:05 am 1 person likes this post

+1 for backup validation.

I backup a critical HTPC via 2 methods:
Via Veeam to its own partition on a separate internal HDD
Via Veeam to its own partition on an external USB HDD
Via Macrium Reflect to its own partition on the same internal HDD as the 1st Veeam Backup
Via Macrium Reflect to its own partition on the same external USB HDD as the 2nd Veeam Backup
That's 2 products across 2 disks, just to be sure.

This last weekend the boot SSD barfed. Neither of the Veeam backups would restore (LZ4 decompression errors and another "CRC can't read from source disk" or something similar). Weird thing was that I ran a restore several times and I would get this error in a different place each time. First was at 7%, the next at 27%. I never got past 30%.

I can't help thinking that an ability to validate the backup (without having to do a trial restore onto yet another disk/partition) would have solved at least one of these issues. All these backups happen in the middle of the night and the validation should be part of the backup process, not the restore process - which is kinda too late!

I was trialing Veeam as an alternative to Reflect. However restoring from one of the Reflect clones worked 100%.

RobinW

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by chaycock » Aug 08, 2017 1:05 pm 1 person likes this post

It sure seems like to me there is a bug or something in the veeam backup, merge, or restore process.
This seems to happen quite a bit, just that no one has been posting about until others started.

There really is no excuse not to have verification functionality built in..every other backup solution I have used (free or otherwise) has had it.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Dima P. » Aug 08, 2017 6:29 pm

Hi folks,

Wanted to let you know that we noted this required as a potential improvement for the next versions. Most likely it’s going to be a part of Veeam B&R functionality (i.e. SureBackup)

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by chaycock » Aug 08, 2017 6:42 pm 1 person likes this post

It really needs to be included in VAW as well and should not be difficult to do as I'm fairly certain the code can be used in both places.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by Dima P. » Aug 08, 2017 7:31 pm 1 person likes this post

We'll think about the way to validate backup files on the agent's end as well. Thanks.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by RubinCompServ » Aug 15, 2017 5:08 pm 1 person likes this post

Here's another vote for backup validation from VAW.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Aug 15, 2017 9:05 pm

Honestly, I doubt Veeam see it as a priority. There have been request for this feature dating back to January 2015 - veeam-agent-for-windows-f33/feature-req ... 25320.html. As a software dev I find it hard to believe that an in-memory "pretend" restore that at least checks the validity of the backup files is so difficult to implement that it takes all this time to code if it was something Veeam saw as important.

I cannot rely on a backup system that cannot be either validated or even tested (without installing a spare internal drive for the purpose). Veeam Agent has great potential, but as a proper backup solution it is does not meet this basic requirement of backup software - If you cannot validate a backup then just how many copies of a backup do you judge to be necessary? Two? Five? Twenty? Without validation you are playing with probability and statistics - every one of those could be faulty; there is no way to know otherwise. Veeam seem to be enterprise-focused, for which they do provide validation functionality. That is absolutely fine as a business model. But they have decided to also target single-user PCs and they do not seem to appreciate what is required for a reliant single PC backup solution. A single workstation PC nowadays can host data that is just as valuable/more valuable as the total data held on the PCs of an entire office, or on a server. For this sole reason, the lack of ability to validate a backup, I've now switched to alternative software that can.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by chaycock » Aug 15, 2017 11:36 pm

Agree with above post....there is not really any reason it should take anywhere near this long....it apparently is not really a priority.

>the lack of ability to validate a backup, I've now switched to alternative software that can.

...just curious, what did you switch to?

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Aug 16, 2017 6:53 am

Hi Carlton. I had been using True Image for a few years (version 2016 and previous ones) but switched to Veeam last year as TI kept having connection problems to my removable USB hard drive, requiring a new chain to be started every couple of weeks or so. TI also gets its scheduling in a twist sometimes when you add/change a job, requiring faffing around in a command line utility they supply for editing the job schedule. So plenty of frustrations with TI. But the backup itself seems fine and you can set it to validate either after each backup or on a schedule of your choice (and you can also validate from a menu option). So for now I've switched back to TI.

Somewhere there must be decent single-PC software that backs up, validates, and isn't a hassle to use. Veeam Agent could be that if they add multiple jobs (coming soon they say, good news) and validation. I will gladly switch back to Veeam at that point.

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by chaycock » Aug 16, 2017 1:01 pm 1 person likes this post

TI was absolutely terrible, I switched off of it years ago. That is the worst piece of crap I have ever used. I was hoping you had found the 'perfect' solution...lol

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Re: Any way to Validate a Backup?

Post by James99 » Aug 16, 2017 2:24 pm

Haha! :) I agree. I have managed to get TI working for me in a limited way (and validating) but I could never recommend it to anyone!

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