Check the file system of your USB drive before using it as a backup target

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One of the new features introduced in Veeam Backup & Replication 7.0 is the new “Backup Copy” job type. With it, an administrator can create a secondary location for his backups, without having to clone large backup files from the primary backups using tools like rsync or robocopy.

The target of a Backup Copy Job can be anything, as long as it’s visible to the Repository service as a folder. It can be a NAS, a VTL, a server with some local space, even a virtual machine running inside a remote virtualized infrastructure of a Cloud Provider. In many small environments however, one of the preferred solution is an external USB drive. It offers many advantages, and it’s a nice alternative to tapes because there is not the additional price of the drive. Also, since backup copy jobs are mainly sequentials writes (apart when a transform operation needs to be executed), the speed of those devices is quite good, at least for the size of the environments where it is usually used.

Starting from the latest patch 3 of Veeam, it’s even easier to rotate drives as one would do with tapes, thanks to two dedicated registry keys, as explained in KB1854.

There is however a problem, that is sometimes overlooked by users, and can lead to strange errors in first place. When you try to run a job against one of those drives, you can see errors like this one:

Veeam 4gb 01

If you look at the USB device, you can see many files like these:

Veeam 4gb 02

Why every file stop growing at 4 Gb? The reason is really simple:

Veeam 4gb 03

In order to guarantee the highest degree of compatibility between Operating Systems, those drives are usually pre-formatted with FAT32 file systems, and even if the drive is as big as 1 TB like in my example, a single file cannot be larger than 4 Gb!!!

So, before using this drive, you need to change the file system to something else, like NTFS, or also EXFAT if you plan to use it on different Operating systems. EXFAT is pretty unknown, but it’s a really improved version of FAT32, it supports single files as large as 16 ExaBytes, and can be read in any Microsoft operating system from Windows 2003 onwards, Mac OS X from 10.6.2, and almost any linux system with a recent kernel.

Once the drive has been converted in one of those partitions, BackupJob can finally run correctly:

Veeam 4gb 04

And files can grow above 4 GB:

Veeam 4gb 05