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How to avoid duplicate FSA Archives and other considerations

Created: 11 May 2011 • Updated: 11 May 2011
Rob Brenner's picture
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What are ArchivePoints?

First a differentiation needs to be made between Archives and ArchivePoints (AP).

An AP is the root of a Folder or Volume target on the file server which defines the entry point for items that will be archived into the respective Archive.

An Archive is a logical container where items processed from an AP will be associated with. An Archive is defined within the EV databases and is assigned a unique ID.

Each file archived from the associated AP will be assigned a unique entry in the database which references the corresponding Archive ID in the database.

While the AP is also assigned an entry in the database, which has the same value as its corresponding Archive ID, it is also assigned an Alternate Data Stream (ADS) at the folder or volume level on the file server. The AP is a marker within the file system which tells the FSA Archiving Task to which Archive the files should be archived.

The ADS is written as a hidden stream named EVArchivePoint.xml and contains the unique ID that identifies the AP ID or Archive ID entry in the database.  This ID can be referred to as ArchiveId, ArchivePointId, or ArchiveVEID, depending on where this ID information is contained – ADS or database tables.

How is an ArchivePoint created?

Although an AP can be created manually from the Command Prompt (CMD.EXE), where the creation of multiple APs can be automated by means of scripting, it can also be created by using the ArchivePoints.exe tool provided with Enterprise Vault installation binaries. However, the recommended method for creating an AP is by defining it when adding target Folders via the Vault Administration Console (VAC).  When target Folders are added in the VAC, different types of AP can be defined.

Looking more closely at the process of creation of an AP, there are some important steps that should be considered.

When an AP is first defined, by any method, the EVArchivePoint.xml hidden stream is created at the folder where the target was defined as an AP, however the actual ArchiveVEID value does not exist yet.  

The ArchiveVEID or ArchiveId is only generated when the File System Archiving Task is launched to process the target. If the Task does not find the ArchiveVEID value in the AP, it creates a new Archive within the database and generates a new ArchiveVEID. This new value is updated in the EVArchivePoint.xml as well as in the relevant database tables.

How are duplicate Archives created?

If for any reasons, or unexpected circumstances, an AP is deleted or removed, no means other than by using FSAUtility should be attempted to recreate the deleted or removed AP.

If FSAUtility is not used when recreating an AP, any method used to create an AP within the same path where the previous AP existed, will result in an additional AP with the same name but a different ArchiveId, therefore resulting in a duplicate Archive.

A duplicate Archive is created in following cases:

  • AP is deleted and created again using VAC or ArchivePoints CLI
  • AP is deleted by FSAUtility –m option and created again using VAC or ArchivePoints CLI
  • AP is deleted by any other third party tools (tools which removes Alternate Data Streams) and created again using VAC or ArchivePoints CLI or manually
  • Folder is restored from a backup which doesn’t either backup ADS or backup is older than the AP creation and AP is created again using VAC or ArchivePoints CLI

How to prevent duplicate Archives?

FSAUtility has a built-in option specifically designed to recreate an AP if it has been deleted.

Can duplicate Archives be merged or eliminated?

No merging tools are currently available to recombine the duplicate Archives in a programmatic way.

Due to the complexity involved, it may be unrealistic to attempt to merge the duplicates. Depending on how long the duplicate Archive has been in use and how much data has been archived in to the new duplicate Archive, it may be possible to perform manual procedures to recombine the Archives.

For situations where the duplicate Archive is detected at an early stage, as long as the content archived into the new duplicate Archive can be completely recalled  / retrieved, by  resetting the current AP to use the old ArchiveVEID, the items retrieved from the duplicate Archive will be re-archived into the old Archive once the AP has been recreated / reset.

There are plans to include features in future versions of EV which will be intended to help detect and prevent the creation of duplicate Archives.

What’s the difference between ArchivePoint and FolderPoint?

Where the AP is the root entry point of the corresponding Archive, a FolderPoint (FP) is a marker used to remember the folder structure below the AP. Each folder under an AP will be assigned a FP which contains the respective unique ArchiveFolderEID  also stored in the database.

When files are found eligible for archiving and processed into the Archive, the folder where the archived files resided is stamped with a FP, as well as all the folders up the file system structure until the top level where the AP exists. This way the entire folder structure hierarchy is maintained in the database with the corresponding ArchiveFolderEID.

The FP EVFolderPoint.xml is also stored as an ADS hidden stream created at the folder level. Whereas the AP is not modified, the FP can be dynamically updated in the event of folder movement within across file systems. The updates are performed during the processing of the FSA Archiving Task.

FSAUtility cannot recreate FP. If a FP is deleted or removed, it will be recreated the next time the Task runs and finds a file to be eligible for archiving.

Other considerations

Some Archiving Report log notifications or Event Log entries may imply that there are no Archive Points associated with a particular target processed by the Task. In this case FSAUtility should be used to recreate any missing AP. If the notifications or alerts were misleading, FSAUtility log will help identify that the AP exists and further investigation would be necessary to identify the cause for the notifications or alerts.  Do not attempt to delete and recreate the AP unless instructed by Symantec Support.