How to manage backup storages

storage is a target destination where the program saves backups of mailboxes. It is also a place from which backup data is restoredThis article describes how to create, manage and archive storages as well as monitor their status. Use the links below to learn more.

Creating a backup storage

There are two ways to create a storage:

  • Go to the Storages tab in the Administration Panel and click New on the menu bar (Fig. 1.).
Backup - create a new storage
Fig. 1. Opening the Storage management window via the Storages view.
  • Go to the Jobs tab in the Administration Panel and select New > Backup from the menu bar. This will open the backup job wizard - proceed to the Target storage step and click New (Fig. 2.).
Backup - create storage from a job
Fig. 2. Opening the storage management window via the backup job wizard.

In either case, the Create new storage wizard will appear (Fig. 3.). The wizard will guide you through four steps of configuring a new storage:

Backup - New Storage Wizard
Fig. 3. The Create new storage wizard.

In the first step (Location), use the Browse button (Fig. 3.) to create a folder or choose an existing folder to be used as a storage. In the folder picker window, choose a folder on your local machine (network drives are not supported) or create a new folder via the Make new folder button (Fig. 4.).

Backup - Choosing a storage folder.
Fig. 4. Choosing/creating a storage location.

Once you choose a folder path, create a display name for your storage. A display name will be automatically created once you pick a folder (the proposed name will mirror the name of the chosen folder). You can change it any way you want.

In the second step (Fig. 5.) you will be asked to configure a storage retention policy. This feature solves a potential problem of big organizations or users with large mailboxes - situations in which storages grow indefinitely as more and more data is backed up (and versioned) and lots of old/outdated items are unnecessarily kept. Our storage retention policy allows admins to set up automatic removal of item versions older than a user-defined retention period from a storage.

Info

Item age calculation is based on a date when an item was created in a storage (backed up), not on the item's original creation date in a mailbox.

Backup - retention policy on storage
Fig. 5. Configuring a storage retention policy.

You can also filter item types. Let's say that you want to keep backups of all contacts forever but you only need to keep emails from the last 6 months. In that case, you need to configure a storage retention policy for 180 days and select only the Emails check box in the wizard (Fig. 5.).

A retention policy can be also applied to special folders. Note that in this case the policy applies to all item types. For example, let's say that you configured your retention policy to be applied to everything except notes. If you choose to enable the policy for Deleted items folders (as in Fig. 5.), the retention process will encompass all item types (including notes) kept in your Deleted items folder, but not the notes which are in your "normal" folders.

Important

If you defined a retention policy for your storage, you will be prompted to create an appropriate archive job right after you complete the storage wizard. Archive jobs allow you to move your data from a storage to a desired location before the retention policy removes this data. 

The configuration of the next step of the storage wizard (Password) is optional, but it strongly improves the security of your backups: you can enable password protection for your storage (Fig. 6.). If you do this, users of the program will need to provide a password to view or restore the contents backed up in a storage. A password will also be necessary to edit backups from existing storages. Note that all other functionalities of the program (such as controlling a job status or creating new jobs) will be available without a password. Also, you will not need a password to view which mailboxes were saved to storages.

Info

A password is created per storage.

Backup - storage protected
Fig. 6. Setting a storage password protection.

To turn on a password protection for your storage, select an appropriate check box and provide a password (Fig. 6.).

Important

If you decide to protect storages with passwords, you will have to provide these passwords each time you restart the Administration Panel of the program, in order to view, edit or restore backups from the password-protected storages.

In the last step of the storage wizard you can save a Recovery key for your storage. By default, backups saved to storages are automatically encrypted. That is why we recommend saving a Recovery key in your local resources, for potential recovery. In the case a storage gets corrupted or it is password-protected and you lose the password, we will be able to recover the storage for you using this key.

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Note that encryption keys are created automatically for each storage and cannot be customized. If one of your storages gets corrupted or you lose its password, contact our Customer support team and provide the corresponding Recovery key to recover backed up contents from this storage.

To store a Recovery key, click Save and choose a local path where the key will be saved (Fig. 7.).

Backup - Saving a Recovery key.
Fig. 7. Saving a Recovery key.

Once your storage is defined, click Finish. A newly created storage will be listed on the Storages tab (Fig. 8.).

Backup - storage list
Fig. 8. A newly created storage.

Warning

If a retention policy is enabled, but there is no corresponding archive job or such a job is set to be started manually, a warning message will appear as soon as you complete the storage wizard. This message will contain a link to the archive job configuration page. Similar warnings are also displayed at the bottom of the right pane, as shown in Fig. 8.

Managing an existing storage

Each storage defined in the program can be managed from the Storages tab in the Administration Panel. You can:

To add an existing storage (e.g. the one which was previously removed) to the program, click the Add existing button in the top menu bar (Fig. 9.). A folder picker window will appear. Find your storage folder, select it and click OK.

Backup - add existing storage
Fig. 9. Adding an existing storage to the program.

To edit an existing storage, click Edit (Fig. 10.). If a chosen storage is password-protected, enter the password and click OK (Fig. 10.). This will open the storage configuration wizard.

Backup - editing a protected storage
Fig. 10. Editing an existing storage.

To remove a storage from the program, highlight it on the storage list and click Remove (Fig. 11.). Note that this action only unmounts a storage from the program and does not remove a storage from its location. A storage can be added back again at any point via the Add existing button, as described earlier. To remove a storage from your local resources, you need to delete it manually.

Backup - remove storage
Fig. 11. Removing a storage from the program.

Warning

A storage cannot be removed if it is assigned to a job. You need to unassign a storage from all associated jobs prior to using the Remove button. Otherwise, when you try to delete a storage, a dialog box will appear, with a list of all jobs using this storage. On the other hand, if you manually remove a storage folder from your local resources, without removing it from the program beforehand, both the job using this storage folder and the storage itself will show errors.

Archiving a storage

If you wish to archive your storages, e.g. because you need to keep backed up data safe in cold storage on an external drive, you can use the built-in archive feature. Archiving processes in CodeTwo Backup function as jobs - you can configure them by clicking New > Archive storage on the top menu bar of the Jobs tab (Fig. 12.).

Backup - New Archive Job
Fig. 12. Starting a new archive job on the Jobs tab.

Alternatively, you can go to the Storages tab and either select a storage and click the Archive button on the top menu, or right-click on the storage and choose Archive from the shortcut menu (Fig. 13.).

Backup - Archive Job from Storage
Fig. 13. Starting a new archive job on the Storages tab.

In any case, the Create archive job wizard will be started. Similarly to other wizards in CodeTwo Backup, the first steps let you define a name for your job, then select a source storage and a target location for your archive. Note that, contrary to storage locations, archives can be kept on removable or network drives (Fig. 14.). Also, in the Source storage step you need to select a storage as a whole (there is no option to archive individual mailboxes).

Backup - Archive in Network
Fig. 14. Choosing a network path as an archive location.

Just like backup jobs, archive jobs feature a retention policy. This policy is, however, slightly different (Fig. 15.): an archive is treated as a whole, i.e. there is no item type filtering or defining the age of items. The process is similar to taking a snapshot of a virtual machine: every time a storage is archived, a separate archive - containing the whole storage state from the moment the archive job started - is created. There are only two options available for an archive retention policy: setting how many previous archives should be kept and deciding what to do if there is not enough disk space.

Backup - Archive Retention
Fig. 15. Configuring an archive retention policy.

In the next step of the wizard (Fig. 16.) you can configure a job scheduler, i.e. define when a job will start. If you decide not to enable the scheduler, your archive job will have to be launched manually.

Backup - Archive Scheduler
Fig. 16. Configuring an archive scheduler.

Again, in a similar way to other job wizards in CodeTwo Backup, in the next steps you will be asked to set an optional password protection for your archive, save a Recovery key and review the job's configuration. To complete the job, click Finish in the Job summary step.

Warning

An archive job cannot be safely stopped and resumed. Once started, it must finish on its own. If force stopped, an archive will be considered as corrupted.

Archiving a storage to a PST file

Apart from standard archive jobs, CodeTwo Backup also features a PST archiving capability. A PST archive job is a special type of archive job that archives a current state of a storage and selected mailboxes in this storage, and stores this data in the PST format. PST is a data file format native to all versions of Microsoft Outlook. Once a storage is archived to a PST file, you can import it directly to MS Outlook. 

Important

Archiving to a PST file is a one-way operation. PST archives can be imported to MS Outlook but not to CodeTwo Backup. Consider using the PST archive feature only if you specifically need to import your archives to Outlook. For safe archiving of backup storages, use standard archive jobs only.

Configuring a PST archive job is almost identical to a standard archive job setup described earlier. A wizard will guide you through all the steps, including the configuration of an archive retention policy and PST archive job scheduler (learn how a scheduler works in standard archive jobs).

There are, however, two important differences from standard archive jobs:

  • a PST archive job creates a separate PST file for each mailbox. In the Source storage step of the wizard, you not only need to choose a storage from which data will be archived, but also select which mailboxes inside this storage should be included in the process. You can select individual or all mailboxes in a storage.
Backup - PST Archive Source
Fig. 17. Source storage configuration of a PST archive job.
  • PST archives are not encrypted. This is because PST is not a file format developed by CodeTwo, but it's a common Microsoft Outlook standard that does not implement proper encryption. The only option available to protect PST files is to enable a PST file format defined password protection. You can do that in CodeTwo Backup wizard, but be aware that the PST file format password protection is considered weak and easily hackable. Moreover, PST files allow only short password phrases (up to 15 characters) without national or special characters.
Backup - protect PST file
Fig. 18. PST archive job password configuration.

Importing archived storages

Archives created using standard archive jobs can be imported back to CodeTwo Backup via the Import archived storage option (Fig. 19.). Even though these are one-time operations, they are also configured as jobs. You can open the import wizard either from the Jobs tab (as shown in Fig. 19.) or from the Storages tab (the Import archive button on the top menu bar).

Starting an Import archived storage job.
Fig. 19. Starting an Import archived storage job.

A short four-step wizard will guide you through the job configuration. Since importing is a one-time operation, there is no scheduler available for it.

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Note that archives are always imported to new storages. It is not possible to import archived data to existing storages. This is to avoid potential problems with overwriting or duplicating items.

Warning

It is not possible to import data from PST archive files to CodeTwo Backup. Those are designed to be imported to Outlook only.

Monitoring storages

Because storages are constantly in use by running (active) jobs, the program lets you check their status in three different places in the Administration Panel. Each of these locations includes essential information such as the configuration of a storage, associated jobs, and the storage status. You can monitor your storage:

  • on the Storages card available on the Dashboard tab (Fig. 20.) - the information included here shows the names of storages and available disk space.
Backup - Storages status in dashboard view big.
Fig. 20. The status of storages on the Dashboard tab.
  • The Good news and Bad news cards on the Dashboard - these cards contain alerts (Fig. 21.). These alerts can be customized (via a dedicated window) to show, for example, available disk space, successful program activation, storage failures (e.g. when they are removed from local resources but are not removed from the program), etc.
Backup - Good news
Fig. 21. Example of an alert on the Good news card.

Learn more about what information can be displayed as an alert

  • The Storages tab (Fig. 22.) - includes information such as storage names, paths to storages in local resources, storage status, current size of data stored in a selected storage, the number and names of jobs that use a given storage.
Backup - storage list
Fig. 22. The Storages tab.

Warning

If a retention policy is enabled for a storage, but a corresponding archive job is not available or is set to be started manually, a warnings will be displayed at the bottom part of the right pane, as shown in Fig. 22.

See also

Storages - this article describes storages and how they are used by the program.

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