• United States

Can you back up a directory with standard archival tools?

Jun 22, 20042 mins
Backup and RecoveryEnterprise Applications

* Is it possible to back up an open eDirectory/NDS with typical archival tools?

Last week, in talking about the disastrous consequences of one project to upgrade a NetWare server hardware, I mentioned that we all know we can’t back up a directory using standard archival tools. Well, evidently not all of us knew that.

Some day I might learn not to confuse, “we all SHOULD know” with “we all know.” Because when I write “we all know xyz,” my inbox is hit by at least a dozen notes from people saying “I never heard of xyz,” a further half dozen saying “I’ve heard of xyz but it’s not true,” and a few who will claim “xyz is just a Microsoft plot. You really meant to say abc.”

So let me tell you right now, you can’t back up an open and running eDirectory/NDS with typical archival tools any more than you can use them to back up other open databases. That’s right, open databases can’t be backed up properly, if at all without doing special things. And now we all know.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways around this problem, but you have to be aware of the ways that are supported by the database (or, in this case, directory service) you’re dealing with.

If you understand Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) or have a database administrator on staff, you should read and comprehend Novell’s Technical Information Document (TID) # 10073559, “eDirectory Database and Troubleshooting files.” It explains in great detail, all of the files used by the directory service, what their purpose is and how best to handle server upgrades and disaster recovery. It goes into detail about the NWCONFIG procedure I mentioned last week, which can be used by all NetWare versions from 4.0 onward, as well as the better DSMAINT procedure, which is only available on newer versions of the directory service.

This TID will also help you recover from disasters such as a momentary loss of power that crashes the server or any other process that has the same effect that, in years past, could destroy the directory so that everything would have to be manually re-created.

You may remember that the system I wrote about last week was a single server network, so that simply restoring NDS from another server’s replica wasn’t possible. But there is a way around that, and one astute reader pointed it out to me. I’ll tell you about that method in the next issue.