Singe File Restore – Fairy Tale Ending Going Down History Lane

If I go back to my earliest sysadmin days where I had to restore a file from a network share, I was happy just to get the file back. Where I worked we only had tape and it was crapshoot at the best of times. Luckily, 2007 brought me a SAN to play with.

bad times with dealing with LUNSThe SAN made it easier for sure to go back into time and find that file and pull it back from the clutches of death by using hardware based snapshots. It was no big deal to mount the snapshot to the guest but fighting with the MS iSCSI initiator got pretty painful, partly because I had a complex password for the CHAP authentication, and partly because clean-up and logging out of the iSCSI was problematic. I always had ton of errors, both in the windows guest and in the SAN console which caused more grief than good it seemed.

Shortly after the SAN showed up, VMware entered my world. It was great that I didn’t have to mess with MS iSCSI initiators any more but it really just moved my problem to the ESXi host. Now that VMware had the LUN with all my VMs, I had to worry about resignatureing the LUN so it wouldn’t have conflicts with the rest of production VMs. This whole process was short lived because we couldn’t afford all the space the snapshots were taking up. Since we had to use LUNS we had to take snapshots of all the VMs even though there were a handful that really need the extra protection. Before virtualization we were already reserving over 50% of the total LUN space because snapshots were backed by large block sizes and ate through space. Due to the fact that we had to snapshot all of the VMs on the LUN we had to change the snap reserve to 100%. We quickly ran out of space and turned off snapshots for our virtual environment.

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