Tweaking NTBackup

Windows 2000's native backup utility (i.e., NTBackup) is a good backup solution for small businesses that don't need a more expensive backup application's features. My company wanted to set up NTBackup in such a way as to keep local administrative involvement to a minimum. That is, we wanted a set-up-and-forget configuration that would let us set a scheduled job and have a staff member merely change the backup tape daily.

Configuring this setup took some time and effort because NTBackup uses the Removable Storage Manager (RSM). The RSM is designed for use with tape autoloaders and tracks tape usage, ensuring that the autoloader inserts the correct tape into the streamer before a scheduled backup can commence.

To accommodate the RSM, we established a system in which for the first week, NTBackup was scheduled to back up to new media and to name the tape with a preconfigured identifier (e.g., Monday, Tuesday). After the first week, a different backup job was scheduled for each day of the week and set to write to the appropriate tape. Manual intervention was necessary only when we replaced a tape, in which case a new tape was introduced to the pool as new media.

When we tested the system, the first backup completed successfully but the second backup failed because the RSM didn't detect insertion of the second day's tape. If NTBackup isn't running, the RSM can't tell whether the tape has been changed. To solve this problem, we turned to the Microsoft article "Scheduled Backups Fail on Standalone Tape Drives After Changing Media" (, which explains that you can use srvany.exe to run NTBackup permanently in the background as a service and to ensure that NTBackup informs the RSM if the tape is replaced (either manually or by an autoloader).

Although this solution worked, it still required administrative involvement to introduce the new media. We didn't need the RSM's features, so we decided to use the unmanaged switch (i.e., /um). As the Microsoft article "How to Schedule Unattended Backups Using a Stand-Alone Tape Library" ( explains, the /um switch tells NTBackup to back up to whichever tape is in the drive. Thus, you can set the simplest possible backup schedule. You need to use the Control Panel Scheduled Tasks applet to add the /um switch to the backup command line. As the Microsoft article "Changed Command Parameters for Scheduled Backup Job May Not Be Saved" (
?kbid=243260) explains, using NTBackup's scheduler to add the switch removes the /um switch and inserts the /n switch.

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