Monday, June 1, 2009

Fixing NetBackup Media Management Issues Through Mental Exhaustion

Hey there,

If you're ever setting up a new NetBackup server, and you're pretty sure you've done everything correctly, you very well may have ;)

Today's post is drawn directly from the 3 or 4 hours of insanity I went through trying to fix a broken setup "correctly" (which may work for you :) and then the neat little trick I pulled, as a last ditch effort, that actually ended up solving the problem. This is somewhat of an informal post, so if any of the steps I describe below aren't specific enough, check out our other posts on NetBackup troubleshooting and Set up (and other NetBackup Tips - with some bleed-over) where we've spent more time on the nitty-gritty :)

Note: I spent a lot of time reading NetBackup forums on and off of Veritas' site (or is it Symantec now? Nothing's changed ;) and some of the help will be very valuable to me in the future, I'm sure. However, and this drives me nuts, about 80% of the time, if I found someone who had the "exact" same problem as me, the responses were either:

1. Non-existent. A bummer, but, actually, somewhat comforting, since I could feel like no on else in the world knew what the fuck the deal was with that problem ;)

2. Argumentative and off-topic. This, I will never understand. Not so much that people will write random replies (often spiteful) that are of no use to anyone whatsoever, but that forum moderators (especially on the official NBU site) don't just delete that crap. I realize that reading someone else's opinionated bullshit is absolutely free and I don't "have to read it" (just like everyone who reads this blog is free to check out another web site at any time ;), but I question a world in which opinion, itself, is elevated above substance in the improper venue. If there isn't one out there already, I'm going to start a forum for people who need to vent. I'll keep the topics legitimate sounding, but the whole site will be all about belittling your fellow man for no reason any more noble than inflating your own floundering and pathetic ego. Is that the sound of hate mail, already? ;)

Anyway, back to NetBackup.

THE PROBLEM: All systems came up good. Drives recognized at the OS and Software layer and everything, seemingly, good to go. Unfortunately, every backup resulted in an error 96 (Unable to allocate new media for backup). This was on a server that had been setup in a disciplined manner (I must qualify that with "I think" since I didn't verify that folks were actually following procedure, but the build was close enough that they almost "had" to be) and it actually did have fresh media to allocate).

The Problem's (somewhat) human translation: The EMM (Enterprise Media Manager) database cannot find an entry for any of the media in your tape robot that it can use to satisfy your request for a backup. On a good day, the solution may be as easy as just inventorying your robot (using the "update" flag or checkbox) or reassigning your tapes to the volume pools that your policies belong to).

Assuming that's not the issue, they recommend that you get rid of everything and re-add it. Although this sounds like a big pain in the ass, it's really not that bad of an idea, and makes sense. Especially since I was working with a new setup and didn't have to worry about preserving any old backups. Burn it all down and rebuild. No problem :)

Rather than lifting, and rewording, the content from This Veritas Knowledge Base Page For Error 96, I would suggest you check out that page first if you run into this issue (It's a good jumping off point to various other avenues if your problem doesn't get resolved, as it has a few tests that may help narrow down your issue). I visited a number of other helpful places, but most of the stuff I ended up doing there didn't help me (today) and I don't want this post to get too confusing.

And finally...

THE SOLUTION THAT WORKED FOR ME: After trying to expire media and having NetBackup tell me that it wasn't in the EMM database, and then trying to add it to the EMM database and having the EMM database complain that an entry for the media already existed (a contrary position that I arrived at by taking many different paths ;), I eventually threw my hand up in the air (not literally) and just deleted the "volume group" that all the "volume pools" belonged to, because it was the single stupidest thing I could think of doing at the time ;)

As it turns out, once I whacked that thing (the only volume group we had), my next plaintive re-inventory actually updated the robot. Of course, after doing that, none of the tapes belonged to any of our volume groups anymore, but all I had to do was add the media back to their respective volume groups and, lo and behold, backups started working.

The moral of the story? Don't be afraid to give up. Every once in a while, it works ;)


, Mike

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