Duplicated copies managed by a Storage Lifecycle Policy created with expiry date beyond the UNIX epoch (January 19, 2038 03:14:07 UTC) are prematurely expired. This condition does not occur when a retention level set to "infinity" is used.

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If assignment of a custom retention level causes an image's expiration time to be set beyond the UNIX epoch time of January 19, 2038 03:14:08 UTC, images managed by a Storage Lifecycle Policy (SLP) will expire after duplication is complete.

Error Message

No error will be displayed as duplications will succeed; however, these images will not be available for later restore jobs.


NetBackup uses the UNIX ctime clock to calculate time, including the date and time used for the expiration of images.  This is a 32-bit clock counting the number of seconds since January 1, 1970 (the "epoch" - ctime 0), and runs out at a ctime value of 2147483647 seconds, which translates to January 19, 2038 at 03:14:07 UTC.

Given this restriction, it is not currently possible to set expiry past that date and time in NetBackup, although it may appear that this configuration is possible.  This is also the date and time that is currently used by NetBackup for any images set with Infinity retention (although images with Infinity retention are set to never expire, even when this date is reached).

It is expected that a future version of NetBackup will allow configuration and correctly process image expiry dates beyond January 19, 2038.


The formal resolution for this issue (Etrack 2988370) was scheduled to be included in the following release:

  • NetBackup 7.5 Maintenance Release 5 (, currently scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2013
  • NetBackup 5200/5220 Appliances 2.5.2, scheduled to be released simultaneously with NetBackup

Links to these releases can be found be accessing the Related Articles link.

Do not use custom retention values in SLPs which would cause this issue to occur - use a custom retention value set to Infinity.  If a specific time period is desired, this retention level can be changed to the desired length of time after NetBackup has been upgraded to a version where this issue is fixed.

If this workaround is unfeasible, please contact NetBackup technical support, referencing this document and Etrack 2988317 to obtain an Emergency Engineering Binary (EEB) bundle containing a fix for this issue for NetBackup and NetBackup Appliances 2.5.1.

Best Practices:
Symantec strongly recommends the following best practices:
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2. Always make sure that your environment is running the latest version and patch level.
3. Perform periodic "test" restores.
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Applies To

This condition will occur when a custom retention level is used which causes an expiry date after Jan 19, 2038 03:14:08 UTC to be assigned to the image.  Note: This issue does not occur when a retention period of Infinity is used.

In this example, a retention level of 30 years is specified in the Storage Lifecycle Policy:

The sequence of events when this SLP is used:

A. Successful NetBackup backup (primary copy and copy number 1)

B. Successful NetBackup duplication of the backup (secondary copy and copy number 2) with new expiration date.

C. Duplicate copies will shortly expire after successful job.

Because the first copy made in this example is expired after the duplication completes, after the second copy is prematurely expired there is no remaining copy of the data available for restore.

This issue affects all versions of NetBackup through (including NetBackup 5200/5220 Appliances through 2.5.1) when Storage Lifecycle Policies are in use and configured with these custom retention levels.

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