Ask Steve Part One: StorageCraft’s Unique Approach to Backing up SQL Servers

Ask Steve Part One: StorageCraft’s Unique Approach to Backing up SQL Servers

December 4

In this segment of “Ask Steve” Morgan asks: Is there anything unique about the Storagecraft ShadowProtect backup process that would overcome problems with backing up SQL on a physical server?

The short answer to this question is “Yes.”  However, the long answer is much more interesting.  Let me explain.

One unique characteristic of the StorageCraft ShadowProtect® backup process is the reliability of the backup.  Our goal is to capture your Windows environment including the OS, installed applications, running services, important data, custom configurations, and etc. exactly as they exist at the point in time when the backup is taken.  This includes taking a reliable backup of your transactional database, which can be tricky considering the active rights and live data typically in transit when a backup process occurs.

Many vendors leverage Microsoft’s Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) when taking a backup of a SQL database. Most of the time, VSS is sufficient to quiesce the SQL database to get a good snapshot. But “most of the time” is not a very good answer when it comes to taking reliable backup images of your critical business systems.  For that matter, who would want to fly in an airplane that functions properly “most of the time”?  Or who would go in for surgery with a doctor who is successful “most of the time”?  If your data is important you want a backup that really works!

This is where StorageCraft goes the extra mile to ensure that your backup images are as reliable as they can be.  Whenever ShadowProtect takes a backup image of your system, we will first attempt to use VSS to get a reliable snapshot. However, if VSS fails to get a clean backup then we begin a second attempt where our code uses the DLL’s called by VSS to attempt to get a clean backup. This second process isn’t as fast as VSS but it should allow us better management of the backup process and better response to any errors that occur.

If this second method fails for some reason, then we attempt the backup process again a third time, this time using our own snapshot driver. As a Microsoft Gold partner, we wrote our own driver which we install as part of the backup software application.  We use this driver the third time to attempt to get a reliable backup if the normal processes with VSS have failed. In essence we’re being as thorough as we possibly can to ensure that the backup produced is rock solid.

If all three previous attempts fail at getting a reliable backup image, then ShadowProtect will fall back to getting a “crash consistent” backup image.  Keep in mind that this is several attempts using different processes in an effort to ensure that the backup taken is as reliable as possible.  These multiple attempts are one way that StorageCraft ShadowProtect is different from other backup software vendors.  We do everything possible to ensure that you get the most reliable backup of your business system as possible. And really, if you don’t have a solid backup you won’t have a reliable recovery–and we’re all about the recovery!

We don’t have to use multiple failover processes in taking backup images, and in fact many backup software vendors only try once to take a backup.  However, we believe that this tiered backup process helps to ensure that with ShadowProtect you will have a reliable backup of your system and data.  This extra effort sets us apart from our competitors as our customers know that our software “just works” time and time again.

Thanks for asking good questions, and remember that if you’d like to ask a question of your own you can submit your questions/comments to  We’re looking forward to hearing from you!



Photo Credit: Beraldo Leal via Compfight cc