Of course, you’re an avid Mirazon blog reader and you’ve kept up with everything we’ve posted here, but if you haven’t, you may want to read up on backup repository best practices and the basics on ReFS in Windows Server 2016 before we get started.
There are a few improvements to Windows Server 2016 that can drastically impact your Veeam backup size and performance.
ReFS is huge for Veeam users. Windows Server 2016 is the first of its kind to fully use ReFS (2012 R2 had it but it wasn’t fully baked yet and wasn’t really supported for most workloads anyway). Within 2016, ReFS is able to identify and correct corruption on the fly, which drastically diminishes the amount of data corruption in your backups. With backup files always being in a constant state of change, data corruption was always a battle.
But why does ReFS matter so much to Veeam other than less corrupt backups? Well, it also introduces significant backup performance gains as well.
The Block Clone API within ReFS allows the system to simply point to a file instead of having to re-create it. This is a huge difference in size if you’re doing any kind of synthetic backup operations within Veeam. For example, on a typical Veeam backup setup, you would take one actual full backup, seven incrementals, and then on that seventh day, a synthetic full backup. With NTFS, that synthetic full backup takes up the same amount of space as the original full does. With ReFS, that synthetic full backup is made up of pointers to the full backup and incremental data, and not a completely rewritten backup. This could introduce huge storage space savings depending on how many full or synthetic full backups you’re keeping.
You’ll notice the difference when you upgrade to ReFS because within your synthetic full backup job, it’ll say it’s using the FastClone method.
It’s also important to point out that since it’s not having to write new data and it is just creating pointers, the synthetic full backup happens much faster than before. It could be mere minutes versus hours, depending on original full backup size.
Storage Spaces Direct
The cool thing about Storage Spaces Direct is that you’re just building a Windows storage node that can easily become a Veeam proxy, which can interact with the repositories you build out. Think of it as an easier way to expand your storage past one physical Veeam server into multiple, with Storage Spaces Direct being your control and error correction mechanism.
Within Storage Spaces Direct, you can enable erasure coding and distribute multiples copies of your data across several nodes to provide more layers of data protection. For example, if one node experiences corruption, the data can be easily reconstructed from the other nodes. The number of copies across however many nodes is up to you, and you set those parameters within Windows Server Storage Spaces Direct itself.
Storage Spaces Direct makes a lot of sense if your backups could quickly outgrow a single storage appliance. Before this, you would have probably used a SAN, but now you can utilize Windows servers to act as storage nodes. Additionally, if you don’t own Veeam Enterprise Plus and don’t have the ability to do scale-out repositories, but you have Windows Server 2016 Datacenter licensing, this could be a more compelling solution if you need more flexible backup storage.
While it was available in previous versions of Windows Server, it wasn’t ideal for larger backup datasets. In Windows Server 2016, Microsoft corrected most of those shortcomings and now it can handle most large datasets. This can save you a lot of space within your backup repository, but you have to use NTFS to enable functionality since it’s not supported with ReFS.
If you’re trying to decide between ReFS and Deduplication, ReFS still may be the way to go. It does introduce significant space savings whereas Deduplication will also introduce more performance overhead and complexity. ReFS is native and is simple.
Overall Windows Server 2016 is an excellent upgrade, on top of all of the performance and functionality gains with Veeam.