GFI MaxBackup / IASO / MaxFocus Backup Review, Problems & Help

GFI MaxBackup / IASO / MaxFocus Backup Review, Problems & Help

I recently switched to LogicNow’s MaxBackup (part of their MaxFocus suite) for our cloud based backup solution (a service previously called ‘GFI MaxBackup’) which appears to be based-on-and-identical-to IASO Backup, a continuation of GFI’s never ending cycle of rebranding designed to confuse customers.  😀

As you can see, it’s a baffling blur of catchy names and marketing terms. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the solution as MaxBackup.

I have created this page because while on the whole I’ve found the solution to be absolutely fantastic (I highly recommend it),  I’ve found it difficult to get to the bottom of any issues, to find centralised documentation and to generally debug the product/service when something doesn’t go quite right.  I’m very hopeful that is something that will be easily resolved because all of the LogicNow team I’ve dealt with have been helpful and efficient.

Given that the software is good too, it just seems like some internal organisation needs to be done (and probably a little more budget in the support department).

Update: This document has expanded in to a bit of an unofficial help page so I will write my detailed review separately.

Here I intend to post my findings, problems and solutions as a I go in the hope it will help others.

Contents

Tips & Useful Info

1. General Issues

1.1 Backup Selection Window

1.2 Cannot Uninstall Backup Manager

1.3 Unable to stop the Backup Service Controller service

2. VMWare Backup Problems

2.1 VMWare Virtual Machine Selection Problems

2.2 Adding New VMWare Server Does Nothing

2.3 Can’t Delete VMWare Server

2.4 VMWare Backup Fails Immediately, Multiple Errors

3. Backup Errors

3.1 Disaster Recovery will not be possible.

4. Installation Problems

4.1 This contract has already been used during another installation

4.2 Download link doesn’t work

5. Exchange Backups

5.1 The Circular Logging Requirement

6. MySQL Plugin Problems

6.1 Serious MySQL Backup/Restore Limitations

Support Review

Tips & Useful Info

Log Files

  • The log files can be found at C:\ProgramData\MXB\Backup Manager\logs
  • You can only successfully take a copy of the log files if the backup service is stopped
  • You can view the logs in real time view your web browser by going to http://127.0.0.1:5000/logs/app

Backup Service / Process

  • If you cannot stop the backup service (it times out), open task manager and kill the BackupFP.exe process (you may need to select ‘Show Processes from all users’ to see it).

1. General Issues

1.1 Backup Selection Window

The backup selection window seems to be plagued with problems across all of the backup types, often selecting files for the first time gives an error saying they are already selected.

1.2 Cannot Uninstall Backup Manager

I recently had to uninstall the backup manager client from a customer to install from scratch (due to a backup node unable to recover from a full drive), unfortunately trying to remove it via Uninstall a Program in the control panel didn’t work – it simply did nothing (no errors, etc). I was because the backup manager couldn’t stop the backup service to perform the uninstall.

Solution: Stop the backup service, then uninstall the software (if you are having problems stopping the service, see below).

1.3 Unable to stop the Backup Service Controller service

When trying to stop the Backup Service Controller on a system, you may get an error saying it cannot be stopped:

Windows could not stop the Backup Service Controller service on Local Computer
Error 1503: The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.

Solution: Right click on the service and mark it as disabled, then reboot the machine – it is then stopped upon boot up.

 

2 VMWare Backup Problems

2.1 VMWare Virtual Machine Selection Problems

When I was creating a VMWare backup for the first time, I found that no matter what I did, the system appeared to select ALL of my VMs.  I would select two of eight, click Save (and the window didn’t close, indicating a problem) – I would close the window and click edit to check my selection only to find ALL of the VMs selected.

I contacted IASO support via their chat feature and in their defence, they spent about two hours in the session with me testing out the problem.  It turned out to be a display issue only – the system does accept the selection you give it but upon clicking edit, it incorrectly shows all VMs as selected. It is now a confirmed bug and will be fixed in the next release.

If you want to confirm which VMs you have selected manually, you can do so with the ‘ClientTool.exe‘ utility using the following command:

C:\Program Files\Backup Manager\clienttool control.selection.list -datasource VMware

Which should give you a result similar to this one:

VMware Inclusive Normal 192.168.1.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\SERVER1
VMware Inclusive Normal 192.168.1.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\SERVER2

2.2 Adding New VMWare Server Does Nothing

Sometimes adding a VMWare server for the first time (and entering the authentication details) results in no response.  No error, no confirmation and no VM guest details.
Solution: I found simply restarting the client solved the issue, it would appear that connecting to the VMWare host takes a while and the client doesn’t give any sort of progress or indication it is still working.

2.3 Can’t Delete VMWare Server

Sometimes when deleting a VMWare Server,  it stays visible even after a refresh.  If you try to delete it again,  you’re told its not found – yet there it is, staring at you.
Solution: I simply had to ignore the stubborn VMWare host and continue as though it wasn’t there – when I added another one it finally disappeared.

2.4 VMWare Backup Fails Immediately, Multiple Errors

After working through the issues above, I finally got Backup Manager ready to go and with the seeding options all set, I started the backup, clapping my hands and patting myself on the back as I saw everything initialize.  My party was shortlived however as the backup terminated within about 30 seconds, listing four rather cryptic errors.  I immediately submitted the errors to the support team and as of the time of writing, am waiting for a response (I got a message saying my ticket had been escalated).  I’ll post the solution below when I get it but for now, the errors are:

11:22:36 192.168.94.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\SERVER\Hard disk 1
Virtual machine disk processing error. Failed to read virtual disk metadata. Error: The specified key is not found in the disk database (16052).

11:23:05 192.168.94.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\TERMINAL2
Virtual machine disk processing error. Config for '192.168.94.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\TERMINAL2' not found

11:23:05 192.168.94.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\SERVER
Virtual machine disk processing error. Config for '192.168.94.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\SERVER' not found

11:23:05 192.168.94.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\SBS
Virtual machine disk processing error. Config for '192.168.94.10\ha-dc\host\esx01.acme.com\Resources\SBS' not found

3. Backup Errors

3. 1 Disaster Recovery will not be possible.

When backing up a system that includes the System State, sometimes you’ll get errors similar to:

Path: System State\ASR Writer\BCD\?\Volume{ec23adab-ef9c-11d2-a203-346e6f6e3543}\Boot\<VssFileGroup>
Error: Disaster Recovery will not be possible. Reason: Volume not found for file "\\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy362\Boot\BCD".

Solution: ShadowCopy doesn’t have enough storage space available on your C: drive, increase the limit by:

  1. Right click your C: drive in Windows Explorer
  2. Click Configure Shadow Copies
  3. Ensure C: is selected in the pane and click Settings
  4. Increase the limit (for a SBS2011 Server, I set this to 10GB)
  5. Click OK on both dialog boxes to accept the settings

 

4. Installation Problems

4.1 This contract has already been used during another installation

When reinstalling the software for some reason, you get an alarming message saying:

This contract has already been used during another installation

This can happen only when reinstalling the application.  Installing the contract on two computers at the same time results in two unusable backups.  Are you sure you want to continue?

I assume that what they mean is that ‘this should only happen when reinstalling’ and that its safe to proceed but they don’t say that.  Unfortunately both of the online articles (MaxFocus and ISAO) offer no additional insight whatsoever.

 4.2 Download link Doesn’t Work

When I sent some customers the download link to install the Backup Service Controller client, it simply did nothing for them.  Unfortunately it turns out that the download link is only valid for 15 minutes (what the hell?), making it pretty much unusable unless you are doing the installations yourself.   This is apparently done of security reasons but all that will happen is that people starting sending the device name and password via email instead (see solution below) which is less secure.

Solution: You can either use the link to download the installer yourself and send it securely to your client (it has the device name and password embedded in it) or simply download the vanilla installer and email the device name and password/s to your customer.

5. Exchange Backups

5.1 The Circular Logging Requirement

I was recently wanted to onboard a customer with a very large and busy Microsoft Exchange deployment.  Unfortunately seeding the backup wasn’t practical or easily done and as they had relatively quick DIA I wanted to just go ahead.  Unfortunately this mean I had to disable circular logging on Exchange before I could start the backup.  I did so and immediately ran in to problems as they server hard drives start filled up with GBs of logs files, unfortunately the initial Exchange backup just wasn’t going to complete in time (at which point it would purge the logs) before the hard drives filled up.  I was forced to abandon the backup, switch circular logging back on and restart Exchange.  I am still trying to arrange for a seed backup.

I contacted IASO support to ask about the circular logging requirement but no-one was able to give me any detailed information other than that I shouldn’t backup with circular logging on as it can cause data inconsistencies.

I would like to know if there is a temporary workaround to prevent the inconsistencies or is it perhaps ok for the initial backup, etc?

6. MySQL Backups

Update May 2015 on MySQL Backups

Today I received an email from MaxBackup containing my first real disappointment with the product:

We are not able to restore InnoDB single table and DB instances.  If it was MyISAM we would be able to offer that recovery method.

Again, still does not help with your specific situation, but they suggested if you client converted to MyISAM engine, it would work in the manner you need.

Obviously the InnoDB database type exists for a reason – MyISAM doesn’t have a lot of features that InnoDB does (transactions for one) so this isn’t really a fix for most people.

For my part, I have given up on MaxBackup to protect individual MySQL databases and use it only for a full server restore (disaster recovery), I then protect the individual databases with the mysqldump utility using a script I created (see it here).

6.1 Serious MySQL Backup/Restore Limitations

I recently had a customer hosted on one of our Plesk servers accidentally delete a large amount of data accidentally.  As I knew I had configured MaxBackup to include all of the databases on the server, I immediately turned to that for a simple restore of the whole database.

I fired up the MaxBackup console and followed the guide here which states that:

MySQL databases are recovered according to a general instruction. The only difference is that the whole database is restored, not individual files/tables.

Unfortunately, when I selected my backup (by date), the only thing with a checkbox for selecting it is the whole MySQL server.  It seems that at this stage, its only possible to restore the entire server, not individual databases (a whole level of hierarchy up from that in the article):

MySQL Backup Restore Problems

Unfortunately for me – and likely for anyone with more than one database running on a MySQL instance – this renders the restore facility useless.  Unfortunately due to the way MySQL handles InnoDB data, it also makes it an absolutely nightmare for anyone attempting to manually restore a database so even restoring to a different location isn’t an option either.

I have informed our customer that their data is permanently lost at this stage but obviously the situation is far from ideal.  All I really need is a series of SQL statements I can ‘play’ in to database server (which allow even ‘table’ level restoration) but I don’t know if such a think is practical.

Support Review

LogicNow Support

The support I’ve received from LogicNow so far has been excellent but inconsistent.  Only an email-based support ticket is available which leaves you wandering through an inbox full of unformatted threads, trying to work out where you are at – I’d give anything for a central web-based ticketing system.

When I had one customer without offsite backups for over a week due to a problem, I was only getting a basic response about every 48 hours – in the end I had to contact the CTO of LogicNow via LinkedIn to ask him to escalate the issue: it was then resolved within an hour (which only goes to show how little effort had to go in to resolving my issue and confirms that even less effort had gone in to providing me with support up to that point).  I have to say however than anytime I *did* interact with anyone, the experience was positive – I wonder if the department is just underfunded or stretched thin (or both!).

IASO Support

Due to the email-only support on the LogicNow site, I recently starting contacting IASO for support, given that the product is the same and they have a support chat option (its probably the same team).  They were very responsive and when they couldn’t solve my issue (a bug in VMWare selection – see below), they escalated it and found a workaround for me too.  They even let me wait while they re-created my problem then-and-there, confirming the problem was only ‘front end’ and the back-end backup process was actually behaving as it should.

 

Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob McKay works at Perfect Image, is a father, programmer and a self confessed techie-geek type.

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23 comments on «GFI MaxBackup / IASO / MaxFocus Backup Review, Problems & Help»

  1. Thank you so much! I had an issue with my backups failing as well and I enabled shadow copy on my data drive and the backups started immediately! Very thankful to you for this post!!!!

    Jason Johnson
    Omega Technologies

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hey Jason,

      No problem and thanks for the comment – I’m glad I could held, it’s the exact reason I created the page!

  2. Nathan says:

    Just so you know, MAXFocus does have a 1-800 support line that gets you to fully knowledgeable techs without jumping through hoops. Hold times are moderate, but tolerable. Check out https://www.maxfocus.com/contact-us and scroll just down to “Worldwide Sales and Support”

  3. biotech says:

    I have created this page because while on the whole I’ve found the solution to be absolutely fantastic (I highly recommend it)

    Hi Bob,
    These are pretty serious issues you listed, how can you possibly recommend this app? I have yet to find an exchange box with just a few GBs in stores that does not use circular logging. How did you get around this and if you don’t mind sharing how big were edb and log files?

    Thanks so much.

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Biotech,

      I recommend it because 99% of our backups with GFI MaxBackup have had no problems and those work unbelievably well over limited bandwidth compared to past solutions we’ve tried. Great reporting, simple to use client, etc. I must admit I need to revisit a lot of these because many of the bugs have no doubt been fixed too. For the circular logging, we just freed up as much space as we could on the drive, disabled circular logging on a Friday and ran the seed backup over a weekend (when activity dropped significantly). Once you have a regular completing backup, obviously log files are committed to space ceases to be a problem. The truth of the matter is, this customers server should never have been allowed to get this close to capacity on its hard drives but it was a newly acquired customer we were trying to ‘stabilize’ before a rebuild. The edb file was about 50GB (can’t remember the other details).

      1. biotech says:

        Thanks for the follow up – somehow I didn’t get the notification of your reply.
        We have been exploring their MOB and it seems little to simplistic and only schedule driven – eg. no ability to detect file changes or do document versions (just weekly or monthly archives) as you would with CrashPlan or Carbonite.
        On the other hand it is pretty straight forward to use and in a controlled network it would perform well.

  4. ondiz says:

    Great article.
    Are you still using maxbackup?
    tnx
    cheers from Italy

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Ondiz,

      Yes we are still using MaxBackup (for two different IT companies)

      1. ondiz says:

        Tnx Bob.
        For me it lack the possibility to select full backup for local vault only and replicate on cloud only importants folders….

        1. Bob McKay says:

          Hi Ondiz,

          Yes that’s been a real bug-bear for us. I asked their management team about this and was told:

          Typically the request for different data protected locally and remotely is answered in the terms of price vs functionality. Meaning that if the cost was low enough there wouldn’t be a reason not to have it protected both locally and remotely. Plus the added values that an offsite copy is a DR copy while a local copy can be lost in a site disaster. For those reasons I don’t expect to break the mirror between local and remote protection in the near future

          Personally I think it would be a great feature and would just make MaxBackup my ‘go to’ solution for all my customers but without this, I always have to considered different options.

          1. ondiz says:

            It’s more simple.
            Fore some reasons (es: client poor connection) I want local full backup (with windows forlder for complete restore) and have on cloud only some folders…
            I’m testing acronis baas. Not bad!

  5. Hi Bob!

    We have used MAX MOB for a few years now. And our experience with support as well as lack of proper documentation is spot on the same as yours.
    We find the Tech support to be very helpful, but the email ticket system to be horrible. When we need to read documentation about new features etc, we have to go through many badly named docs on their homepage. Documentation in general does not seem to be their strong suit.

    Regarding : 5. Exchange Backups – 5.1 The Circular Logging Requirement
    We had similar challenge. But we did work around that by using the seeding procedure. Cause this is all about having time to get backup done before the logs fill up the disk.

    Keep up the good work on this. I may add some of our own challenges and the fixes we use. But need to format them a bit nicer for public reading. 🙂

  6. Just a comment on “1.3 Unable to stop the Backup Service Controller service”

    We avoid having to reboot by simply end the process BackupFP.exe. Cause it is this process that lock up the Service. You can then start up the service again and monitor the BackupFP process. Normal behavior should be that it use some CPU and disk resources for 5-10 minutes then relax to just minor resource usage. That is if you are not running any backup jobs. Usually i also restart the Mob Manager Service after 15 minutes just to make sure it operates normal again.

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Kenneth,

      Thanks for the comment and the advice! We found the BackupFP.exe trick too (well – the MaxBackup team told us), its just another one of those frustrations with what is otherwise a great product. Have you tried setting up your own backup node? We did this and that is a great example of a procedure with little documentation or support but is a great thing to be able to do, especially if data residency is an issue.

  7. Chris says:

    I have been using Max Backup for myself and my clients for about two years now. I find it very easy to use but I have discovered one problem which now has me looking for another backup solution because despite 9 months of trying to get the issue sorted there has been no progress made.
    My issue is that my clients have selected folders, run the backup but then decided to de-select folders for whatever reason. However, the used storage space, and therefore the cost of the service, has not decreased accordingly even after the 30 day retention period.
    This problem is obvious on 6 of the machines that I provide the backup service on with the worst case being a machine that now only backs up 1.5GB of data but is using 33GB of storage.
    After 9 months of supplying MaxBackup with log files and generally running around trying all sorts of things there has been no improvement in the situation and MaxBackup just kept repeating the same things with the same result.

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Chris,

      That’s interesting – I’ll have to check out our backup customers to see if we’re experiencing the same thing!

      Bob

    2. Bjoern says:

      Hi Chris,

      has this problem been resolved or did you change to another software?
      Would be very nice to know if this is still a problem, because we had the same issue with Novastor a few years ago.

      Bjoern

      1. Chris Ormandy says:

        Hi Bjoern,

        It has not been fixed but I have not been able to find a suitable replacement for a reasonable price.

        A couple of my customers that were affected by this have stopped the service for other reasons so that has reduced my overhead.

        I could fix the problem by deleting the machines with the problem and re-installing them but this would create more work than it is worth for the few remaining machines with the issue. The majority of my machines do not have the problem.

        1. Bjoern says:

          Hey Chris,

          thank you very much for your reply!
          So this is not an issue that happens to all your machines / customers, that is good to know 🙂

  8. I was looking for some MaxBackup info and stumbled upon this great piece of work, realy nice!
    We can confirm the issue Chris reports here, since we’ve been in the same boat with some customers. We pay for selection and if you once had 500 GB and decrease it to 100 GB, you still pay for 500 GB.
    One of our commercial guys was going to discuss this, but not sure what the outcome was, I’ll check.

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the comment – if your commercial guy gets a response it would be great if you could let us know!

      All the best

    2. Chris says:

      I have just noticed that this issue has been fixed for my customers. My overall used storage has dropped by 15% and some of my customer’s used storage has dropped by up to 40%.
      I am glad to see that the issue has been fixed but I am disappointed that it has taken about 18 months of reporting and data gathering to get it sorted.

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