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Storage management with Windows Server -- it has quirks

Microsoft's storage management utility built into Windows Server, Remote Storage Service, moves files to secondary storage. Find out how to restore the utility.

Remote Storage Service is Microsoft's hierarchical storage management utility built into Windows Server. It automatically moves files meeting certain criteria (such as time since last use) to secondary storage (such as a tape library) to help manage storage resources more efficiently.

To keep track of where everything is, Remote Storage Service relies on a database and the Removable Storage Manager (RSM) database. In the event that Remote Storage Service has to be restored, these databases have to be restored as well. Unfortunately, the process is somewhat involved and can be counter-intuitive.

The counter-intuitive part comes if you are doing a complete reinstall of Windows. During setup, you do not add the Remote Storage Server component. If your setup adds it automatically, you have to remove it and restart the computer. You install Remote Storage Service and the database as a separate step.

It is also important that you reinstall Windows into the same folder and drive where it was originally located. Otherwise, you are likely to get an error message telling you the file cannot be accessed.

When Remote Storage Server moves a file to secondary storage, it creates a new copy of the database on the tape or other storage medium. Generally, you should use this copy of the database in restoring the system since it will have the most current copy. The default name for Remote Storage Server media is RS followed by the machine name and the copy number. The media with the highest number contains the most recent copy of the database.

Once you have moved the database file to the operating system partition, you can restore the Remote Storage Server database. And, once the database is restored, use the Add/Remove Programs tool to add Remote Storage Server.

The entire process is rather involved. Microsoft outlines the procedure in the Knowledge Base article, How To: Restore the Remote Storage Database.

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80 K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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