How do consistent EBS snapshots work with VSS on AWS?

Consistent EBS snapshots VSS

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of Amazon Elastic Block Store snapshots, also known as EBS snapshots. Since these snapshots allow users to easily and efficiently make incremental backups of their data as needed rather than performing a complete backup, they have become one of the more popular features associated with Amazon Web Services (AWS). However, while making incremental backups via EBS snapshots can save your company time and money, there are still a few potential problems that must be overcome. Specifically, for users who are attempting to use EBS snapshots with a Windows server instance, steps must be taken to ensure that files that are in use during the snapshot process are not excluded, which would lead to an incomplete backup.

In the following article, we’ll discuss how using Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) in conjunction with EBS snapshots can help your company avoid such pitfalls. We’ll also discuss how new functionality available on our CloudRanger platform can help seamlessly integrate and automate Microsoft VSS into your normal EBS snapshot process.

What Is The Purpose Of Microsoft VSS?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably already familiar with EBS snapshots (if not, feel free to click here or here to learn more about them). As such, the benefit of recording block-level changes to your initial backup rather than repeatedly backing up all of your data should be self-explanatory.

However, what about files that are in use or cached while a snapshot is taking place? If an instance is in use when the backup is occurring, any data associated with that instance will probably be excluded, which could lead to major problems. Not only would that particular backup be corrupted, but due to the incremental nature of EBS snapshots, future backups will also be missing the data. It’s like building a skyscraper with an unstable foundation. Even if the higher floors are built correctly, the structure will still be unsound due mistakes on the lower levels.

That’s where Microsoft VSS comes into play. The service creates a backup of volumes even when they are in use. It does so by quickly freezing the volume and briefly suspending the write operation, buffering any new data so it can be added after the backup is completed. The process creates a consistent point-in-time snapshot of the volume to ensure that no data is missed because it is in use. As such, when used in conjunction with EBS snapshots, VSS eliminates the risk of missing data during an incremental backup.

EBS Snapshots, VSS, And CloudRanger

One of the main benefits of using CloudRanger is the ability to easily schedule and automate EBS snapshots of your data without the need for in-house scripting. Now, CloudRanger is happy to announce that customers who are running instances of  Windows servers have the option to utilize VSS as part of their backup process. By simply clicking the “Consistent Snapshot” checkbox when creating or editing a backup policy, our system will automatically generate consistent snapshots for any Windows servers with VSS installed, and will do so without the need for any scripting from the users. As a result, worrying about missing key data because it is in use during a backup is a thing of the past.

Try CloudRanger For Free

Whether you are a small business, a medium business, or an enterprise user of Amazon Web Services, CloudRanger has features that will meet your specific needs. Our AWS cloud management system is easy to install, which means your business can be up and running with CloudRanger in no time. And best of all, you can even try CloudRanger for free for 14 days. So why not experience all the money-saving features and time-saving benefits CloudRanger has to offer?

 

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Steven

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