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Take special care with Windows RSS

Things to watch out for with Win2K RSS.


Take special care with remote storage services
Rick Cook

The Remote Storage Services (RSS) feature in Window 2000 provides hierarchical storage management (HSM) for Windows 2000 systems by monitoring file use and automatically backing up lesser-used files to tape when a storage volume reaches a pre-set fullness. Like all good HSM systems, RSS is almost entirely transparent to the users. Accessing remotely stored files takes a little longer and the file icon has a clock with the file, but otherwise Windows 2000 treats the file like a locally stored one for the user.

As a storage administrator, however, you have a few extra jobs to do to maintain an RSS installation in good health. This is especially important because of the way RSS references files stored on tape. It uses a junction point from the original file location to reference the actual file stored on tape. If the file is called for and the tape isn't in the drive (or library) the system sends a message to the server's console asking that it be mounted. However if the data in the server has been damaged and the junction points aren't available, RSS can't find the file.

To make sure the RSS data is available when needed, you need to be sure all local volumes using RSS are validated regularly. This should be done on a schedule that ensures that the files on the managed volumes point to the correct tape. The local volumes managed by RSS should also be backed up regularly. RSS doesn't really replace backups and the managed local volumes need backup to make sure junction points are preserved. Likewise, the administrator should make sure there are multiple copies of the RSS tapes, including a master tape, which is only used if the main RSS tape fails.

Microsoft discusses these and other factors dealing with RSS in note Q234776 at its web site. (

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

Additional Resources:
1. What resources are out there for Win2k storage management?
This is a robust excerpt from the Microsoft Press book entitled, Windows 2000 Server Deployment Planning Guide. Topics covered include managing your disk resources, ways to improve your disaster recovery capabilities, and developing a task list for storage management. If you're interested in storage management-related aids and work in Windows 2000 environments, this is good stuff that warrants some serious attention.

2. How do I survive a system crash?
This online expert Q&A with Mark Russinovich, chief software architect for, was geared toward corporate IT professionals working with the Windows platform who are charged with protecting their company's mission critical data.

3. When should I defrag under Windows 2000?
Defragmentation is important to the performance of Windows 2000, just as it is to previous versions of Windows. Unlike its relatives, Windows 2000 comes with a built-in defragmenter. There are also several third-party defragmenters available from companies such as Symantec Corp. and Raxco Software. This tip explores the best practice in this area according to Microsoft.

4. Can Windows take on the enterprise back end?
By unveiling the Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, Microsoft fired a shot across the bow of its UNIX competitors in the enterprise server market. But a question remains: Can you trust Microsoft to deliver continuous uptime to power your computing enterprise? This searchStorage feature article takes a look at that question.

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