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Application-Aware Image Processing

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To create a transactionally consistent backup of a VM running VSS-aware applications (such as Active Directory, Microsoft SQL, Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint) without shutting them down, Veeam Backup & Replication uses application-aware image processing. It is Veeam’s proprietary technology that ensures successful VM recovery, as well as proper recovery of all applications installed on the VM without any data loss.

Veeam Backup & Replication does not deploy persistent agents inside VMs. Instead, it uses a runtime coordination process on every VM that is started once the backup operation is launched, and removed as soon as it is finished. This helps avoid agent-related drawbacks such as pre-installing, troubleshooting and updating.

To trigger VSS freeze, Veeam Backup & Replication finds out if there is a VSS-aware application running inside a VM. It then requests Microsoft VSS to create a consistent and reliable view of application data prior to taking a VM snapshot. Windows VSS interfaces with VSS-aware applications and Windows OS to quiesce all I/O at a specific point in time. This way, it ensures that there are no unfinished database transactions or incomplete application files during data copying operations.

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To find out which VSS-aware applications are installed on a VM, open the Windows command prompt and run the following command:
vssadmin list writers
The command will bring up a list of all VSS writers installed and registered in the Microsoft VSS framework.

As part of application-aware image processing, Veeam Backup & Replication also applies application-specific settings to prepare every application for VSS-aware restore at the next VM startup. And finally, if backup is successful, it performs transaction logs pruning for specific applications.

Microsoft Windows VSS integration is supported for the following OSs:

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2
Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows Server 2008
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2
Microsoft Windows 7
Microsoft Windows Server 2012
Microsoft Windows 8
Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2
Microsoft Windows 8.1

Backup and replication with application-aware image processing enabled requires that your guest OS has VMware Tools and all the latest packs and patches installed.

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To learn more about Windows VSS and what it is used for, refer to the article VMware and Microsoft VSS: What You Need to Know by Greg Shields.

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