Best Practices - x360Recover

Written By Tami Sutcliffe (Super Administrator)

Updated at August 27th, 2021

Hardware, software and other requirements

x360Recover recommends a minimum of 8GB of RAM and 4 CPU cores with support for Intel VT or AMD-V hardware virtualization. More RAM and CPU resources are recommended when protecting many systems, or if you plan to provide virtualization as a recovery option.  

Typically, appliances should be built using high-end workstation or low-end server equipment depending on the target environment. Vaults should be constructed on low- to mid-range server equipment for performance and reliability.

Dedicated IPMI or other out-of-band management is recommended to ensure robust remote management options when maintaining your fleet of devices.

External IP Addresses (if you are hosting your own cloud)

Each vault and management portal instance running in your data center is an independent machine.  Each of these devices will need their own dedicated Public IP address unless you are using a third-party VPN tunnel solution to route traffic from your customer appliances. Creating Public DNS records for each device is optional but recommended.

If you are using the Axcient cloud, these details will be taken care of for you.

Firewall Ports

  • LAN: Ports 9090-10000 need to be open between the protected system and the appliance.
  • WAN: Ports 443, 9080 and 9081need to be open between the appliance and the vault.
    Ports 22, 443, and 10000+ need to be open between all appliances and vaults and the Management Portal.
    • One port per managed device needs to be open above 10000. For example, if you have 50 appliances and vaults under management, you need to open ports 10000-10049.

Appliance and vault installation requirements

  • We recommend that Axcient x360Recover be installed on bare metal.
  • To install Axcient x360Recover as a virtual machine, refer to the Deploy x360Recover as a virtual machine (VM) article.
  • Axcient x360Recover offers the flexibility to select your own hardware or purchase pre-configured BDR appliances.
  • Axcient x360Recover BDR appliances provide exceptional performance and reliability using all FastFlash SSD storage and our patented Durabit data integrity system. BDR appliances can be specifically preconfigured for your customer location.
  • We recommend using a single disk, or a hardware RAID-1 disk volume for the operating system. Protection of the operating system disk is not critical, as there is a recovery procedure to reload and restore all device settings from the storage pool.
  • Unless you are using a SAN, we recommend deploying three or more physical disks and using ZFS Software RAID when creating the storage pool. ZFS RAID is more robust than hardware RAID and x360Recover has been optimized to provide disk failure and replacement of ZFS volumes.
  • When using a SAN, you may opt to create a RAID-0 storage pool consisting of iSCSI LUNs. (The disk redundancy will be provided by the SAN.)  For optimal performance, create a RAID-1 storage pool using multiple 10Gbe network adapters to provide access to the iSCSI disk volumes.  Ideally, each iSCSI volume should be provided by a separate SAN server.
  • DHCP should be enabled on the network when installing x360Recover to simplify the startup network configuration of the device for licensing and initial software upgrade. During configuration or after setup has completed, a permanent static IP address should be assigned to the device so that agents have consistent access to the device.

Best Practices for deploying agents on Windows

Completely uninstall other backup software and reboot if possible

  • Some legacy backup software, such as Backup Exec or Acronis may not completely remove their proprietary VSS extensions when uninstalled from Add/Remove Programs. We recommend using their stand-alone uninstaller utility if available to ensure proper cleanup and removal of these agents.

Search for unknown large file creation

  • Perform a search for files greater than 50MB created within the last seven days. Verify that there are no ongoing large data dumps being performed on the server that can dramatically balloon the size of Axcient x360Recover incremental backup images. Some possible examples to avoid:  SQL database backups; Quickbooks company file backups; PST File exports or copies, Windows Server Backup images, etc.
  • If large file creation is discovered, alleviate the issue by disabling the source of the file creation, or retarget the file storage to a separate disk volume and then disable that volume from backup by the Axcient x360Recover agent.

[Additional details on best practices when working with x360Recover agents:]

Verify VSS settings

  • From an elevated command prompt, run ‘vssadmin list shadowstorage’ . Examine the volume shadow copy size column and verify that it is NOT set to UNBOUNDED
  • The recommended default storage size is 10% of total space
  • If less than 15% of the disk volume is free, it is recommended to redirect shadowstorage to another volume with sufficient free space.
  • To modify shadowstorage configuration, run the following command
    ‘vssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=C: /on=D: /maxsize=3GB’
    Then replace the source, destination and maxsize values as appropriate.

Customers and locations

  • When deploying Axcient x360Recover to customers with multiple locations, create only one customer account within the License Portal and assign multiple locations to the account.
  • Each customer location that has servers to be protected should have its own appliance. Axcient x360Recover does not recommend performing backup operations of remote servers over Intranet or VPN connections with less than 1Gigabit of bandwidth available.

Networks, switching, and routing

  • Appliances should be connected to the same physical LAN and VLAN as the protected systems they are guarding. Avoid transporting data through firewalls or routers to alleviate network congestion and performance bottlenecks.
  • Appliances and protected systems should be connected to 1Gigabit Ethernet switches or faster for best performance.

Backup time window

  • Microsoft’s best practice recommendation is to increase the minimum configured backup window by 15 minutes for every TB of disk size. (Total volume size, not space in use.) For example, a server with 2TB in total disk capacity should not be backed up any more frequently than every 30 minutes.

Backup scheduling

  • Axcient recommends performing backups on a 24/7 basis and not limiting backup windows strictly to expected business hours for the customer. Backups taken outside of working hours where no changes to data have been made will be extremely small and it is always better to have the option to restore from additional recovery points in the event of the unexpected.

Avoid scheduled defragmenting of disks

  • Performing disk defragment operations on systems protected by image-based backup solutions can generate unnecessarily large incremental backups due to excessive block changes. We do not recommend performing frequent or regularly scheduled defragmentation operations on systems protected by image-based backup solutions like x360Recover.
  • Prior to installing the Axcient x360Recover agent, we recommend performing a thorough disk defrag of both regular files and the Master File Table, if possible. This will help ensure that the initial base image for the protected system is in a healthy state.

Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server VSS agents

  • The Exchange VSS agent is disabled by default on Windows Server 2003 SBS. Ensure that this service is set to automatic startup and running in order to ensure consistent Exchange backups and log file cleanup.
  • The Exchange VSS agent is set to manual by default on Exchange 2008 and newer. Ensure that this service is set to automatic startup and running in order to ensure consistent Exchange backups and log file cleanup.
  • Verify that the Microsoft SQL VSS Writer service is set to automatic and is running in order to ensure consistent backups of Microsoft SQL databases.

OEM installations

  • Microsoft Windows systems distributed as OEM installations are not supported for virtualization. Many OEM distributions are deliberately crippled so that they will not run as a virtual machine.
  • Virtualizing Microsoft OEM distributions is a violation of the Microsoft Licensing Terms and Conditions. Axcient x360Recover will not provide support for virtualizing OEM distributions of Microsoft operating systems.
  • Recovery of Microsoft OEM distributions to new hardware is a violation of the Microsoft Licensing Terms and Conditions. OEM distributions may only legally be recovered onto the original hardware on which it shipped.  Axcient x360Recover will not provide support for recovery of OEM distributions to replacement hardware.

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