Remote Storage Services troubleshooting tips

It can be a little tricky to get Remote Storage Services, the disk management feature in Windows 2000/2003 Server, up and working correctly.

One of my favorite disk management features in Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 is Remote Storage Services (RSS), a utility that allows your network to treat a tape drive as an extension of your hard disk.

RSS lets Windows automatically move files that haven't been used recently to tape, and it keeps those files readily available to users. If a user needs a file that has been moved to remote storage, Windows simply moves the file from the tape, back to the hard disk. The user might notice a bit of a delay in accessing that file, but aside from that, the process is completely transparent.

Although RSS has relatively few configuration options, it can be a little tricky to get it up and working correctly. This article will explore some of the issues you may encounter with RSS, and will provide some troubleshooting advice:

Problem: RSS can't find a volume that you want to manage
Troubleshooting advice: When you initially configure RSS, you must tell it which volumes on your server's hard disk you want it to manage. However, there are situations in which a volume might not be eligible for management.

A volume has to meet several conditions before it is eligible for management. First, the volume must be local to that server -- it can't be a mapped network drive that resides somewhere else. Second, the volume must be non-removable -- you can't manage a DVD burner or anything like that. Finally, the volume must be formatted as NTFS.

Problem: You created a File Copy Schedule, but no files are moved to Remote Storage
Troubleshooting advice: The most common cause of this problem is that no files meet the archiving rules which you've set up for the volume. When you add a volume to RSS, Windows has you specify the minimum size of files to be moved, a minimum length of time since the file has been accessed and the amount of free space you want to leave on the volume.

By default, Windows keeps 5% of the disk space free and will move files more than 12 KB in size that haven't been accessed in six months. Unless a file meets both criteria -- the size and the length of time since it was last accessed -- the file will not be moved.

Problem: RSS is no longer able to recall files from tape
Troubleshooting advice: Several things can cause this problem. The easiest one to check is that your server might be low on disk space.

If the server appears to have plenty of disk space, then the recall limit might have been reached. The recall limit is the limit to the number of files that can be recalled from tape in rapid succession. The recall limit is designed to keep users from moving too many files back to the hard disk, causing the server to run out of disk space.

If you need to recall a large number of files, you can set the recall limit higher or you can tell Windows that the recall limit doesn't apply to members of the administrative group. To do so:

  1. Open the RSS console.
  2. Right-click on the RSS container.
  3. Select the Properties command from the resulting shortcut menu.
  4. Windows will now display the RSS Properties sheet. The recall limits are found on the properties sheet's Limits tab.

Problem: Excessive recalls are occurring for no apparent reason
Troubleshooting advice: Try looking for automated processes that touch all files. For example, your system might be doing a full system backup or a full system virus scan. Those actions can trigger recalls. Performing a content search against all the files on a volume can also trigger recalls.

Office 97 also has a strange bug that triggers recalls. If Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) or HTML files have been written to RSS and you install Office 97, the bug will trigger recalls.


Fast Guide: Remote Storage Service

  Introduction
  Remote Storage Services troubleshooting tips
  Reconfiguring Remote Storage Services for new media types
  Ensure data is available for Remote Storage Services
  Make the most of Remote Storage Service in Windows 2003
  Restore Remote Storage Service database in WinServer 2003
  Restoring the Remote Storage Service database

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. He writes for several TechTarget sites. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at www.brienposey.com.


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This was first published in January 2006

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