Your Enterprise PDM system contains the metadata (e.g. custom properties), file server settings information, and physical vault files. Backing this up ensures that your vital company data is secured and recoverable. The mechanisms for achieving this are easy to deploy. You can sleep well knowing that in cases of a server hardware or operating system failure, the EPDM system can be restored with minimal loss of productivity. These same processes also reduce the risk in moving forward with system changes, such as implementing configuration changes, upgrading to newer software versions, or migrating to newer hardware.
The backup process is well documented in the Installation Guide chapter “Backing Up and Restoring File Vaults”. The key steps are shown here. For most implementations, I.T. will have the access and responsibility for setting up and executing the backups.
1. Backing Up The Metadata
The metadata are maintained in the Microsoft SQL Server databases. There is one database per vault and one additional master database. These are all easily handled using SQL Server Management Studio. From the database server, go to Start>>Programs>>Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2>>SQL Server Management Studio. Your path may differ slightly, for instance if you have deployed SQL Server 2005.
With the Management Studio open, use the Maintenance Plan wizard to most easily define the backup routine.
Best practices include defining a full backup for each vault and master database set to run each day, scheduled off-hours where possible (e.g. 1:00 a.m.). The backups are quite small and typically execute in less than a minute to several minutes for larger vaults. Be sure to note where the backup files are being stored and change this path if desired. Also set up a “clean up history” task to clean out old backups. We typically recommend keeping a week’s worth of backup files. Finally be sure that the backup files are handled by a routine (e.g. Backup Exec) that moves them to a different server or external storage in case of server failure. It would be very unfortunate to have backups that are not accessible because they were left on the server. There are additional maintenance plan tasks that can be added, such as shrinking the databases and reorganizing and rebuilding indexes – these will be subjects of future tech tips. For now we will stick to the backup itself.
Follow these steps:
Set up the backup schedule by clicking the Change… button and defining a daily task:
Select the backup database (full) and clean up history tasks (in that order):
Be sure to include ConisioMasterDb plus all the vault databases you need backed up:
You can specify where the backups are saved by specifying the folder (use the … button to browse to a different folder location). Be sure this folder is added to a backup exec routine to move the data to an external location.
Use the history cleanup task to remove old backups:
You can also specify where maintenance log files are sent, and then click Finish to complete the backup plan definition. The result should be a successful maintenance plan creation:
You should now see the new maintenance plan displayed and can test it by selecting Execute from the right-click menu. This is how you would manually execute the backup. The automated backup will occur as defined in the schedule you set up earlier in the wizard (e.g. 1:00 a.m. every night).
Check the results by navigating to the backup folder and seeing the backup files for each database:
You now have backups for the metadata.
2. Backing Up The File Server Settings
The archive (file) server contains file vault settings such as passwords and defined login types. While not as critical as the physical vault files or metadata, it is very easy to set up this settings backup and it executes within seconds.
This is set up by using the Archive Server Configuration Tool on the archive (file) server. Go to Start>>Programs>>SolidWorks Enterprise PDM>>Archive Server Configuration. From the menu, select Tools>>Backup Settings.
Here you can define which vault settings are backed up (all vaults by default), the location for the resulting backup.dat file (archive root folder by default), schedule (typically set up to run overnight), and (optionally) password protect the backup/restore.
Once set, you can verify that the backup file is created. Also you should note the backup location folder which will be referenced for the final stage of the backup process, the physical vault files. Typically you would see separate folders for each vault defined as shown below. Your implementation may differ depending on how the administrator defined the root folder setup for each vault. The Archive Server Configuration Tool contains this information about where each vault’s data is kept.
Now let’s move on to the files themselves …
3. Backing Up The Physical Vault Files
As noted above, the vaults each have a root folder location defined on the archive (file) server. These are the files themselves, maintained in a format that is read by the database to return the correct file and its metadata properties through the EPDM interface. This part of the backup process involves including these vault root folders and contents in a backup exec that ensures a safe copy is made and maintained in a location external to the server itself.
Here is what the windows folder top-level structure looks like for a typical vault (in this case SWDefault):
As a side note, these folders and their contents should never be accessed directly by the users who are able to download copies of these files to their local vault view when needed.
This part of the backup process requires the most time to execute because of the volume of data involved. It is good practice to run periodic test backups to see how long they take and to build sufficient time into the backup schedule to accommodate the copy.
The process simply involves adding the vault root folder(s) and their contents to the backup routine (e.g. Backup Exec). With multiple vaults, it is easiest to take the root data folder to capture all vault data at once. This typically also includes the backup.dat settings file as well (from step 2). Again be sure the backup routine copies these data to a location external to the server itself in case of failure.
One More Note
Let’s say you have multiple sites set up with replication. Best practice includes obtaining backups of each site’s archive server data. The benefits of including these backup routines are that if the system needs to be restored, the already performed file replications are maintained and don’t have to be regenerated. With large data replication schemes, this could save a lot of time.
You now have a complete backup of the EPDM system … and can sleep better knowing this!