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Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) Hardware Provider

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The Pure Storage Hardware Provider for Microsoft VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) allows users to create application consistent volume snapshots. The Pure Storage VSS Hardware Provider works with the application Writer Service (e.g., SQLWriterService) to quiesce the specific application by pausing I/O to specific volume(s).

The VSS Hardware Provider leverages the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to orchestrate the process, ensuring that snapshots (shadow copies) are generated only when the volumes are in a stable and consistent state. Once generated, the snapshots are saved to the Pure Storage FlashArray.

Note: This is the independent release of the VSS Hardware Provider. This independent release has been tested using Diskshadow, the requestor that ships with Windows Server 2019 and 2022 in both Server Core and Desktop Experience.

Note: Customers that deploy the Pure Storage® FlashArray Management Extension for Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio will find an updated version of the provider that contain the required changes to function with that extension. Do not install a standalone version of the provider after installing the FA SSMS Extension, as older versions of the hardware provider do not contain all of the extension functionality, breaking some of the FA SSMS Extension integration. When a new independent release that adds functionality is GA, it will be added to this page. When a new version of the FA SSMS extension is GA, that installer package will include the appropriate VSS Hardware Provider and will be added to the Pure Storage® FlashArray Management Extension for Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio page.

Download

The latest release binaries are located in our GitHub repository.

Compatibility

The following is compatibility information to determine if this tool is right for your environment.

VSS Hardware Provider 1.8.0.0 requires a 64-bit server operating system. Windows Server 2012, 2012R2, 2016, 2019, and 2022 are supported in both Server Core and Desktop Experience. Windows 10 is not supported. The provider is unable to be installed on Windows client operating systems. Hardware providers are only supported on Windows Server operating systems.

Releases

Click on the release version to download the installer.

Release Version Release Notes and Links
1.8.96.0

Released - September 20, 2021

Changes in the 1.8.96.0 release:

Note: This release is compatible with all Purity versions 5.3 and higher that are not end-of-life.

  • Fix: Mounting a snapshot to a server connected to the FlashArray with Fibre Channel would fail. Fixed a null termination issue that showed up as a bad HostID from the provider. Fixed an issue where the HostId returned by the provider had undefined characters. 

1.8.0.0

Released - June 15, 2021

Changes in the 1.8.0.0 release:

Note: This release is compatible with all Purity versions 5.3 and higher that are not end-of-life.

  • Adds support for future in-place upgrade
    • All prior versions (<v1.8) of the VSS Provider cannot be upgraded, which results in the installer uninstalling the prior version before installing. This removes array configuration information, that must be manually added after the installation using PureProviderConfig.exe.
  • Adds support for ActiveCluster
    • Requirement: Both FlashArrays participating in the ActiveCluster must be added to the provider configuration using pureproviderconfig.exe
    • Note: FlashArray snapshots are immutable. The act of mounting a snapshot causes a new volume to be created from the snapshot. That volume is created outside of the ActiveCluster POD in this release.
  • Adds support for Protection Groups
    • Requirement: Volumes in the snapshot set can be outside of a protection group, or in a single protection group. Volumes belonging to more than one protection group will fail to backup.  Either remove excess Protection Groups or change the behavior to Volume snapshots. Protection Group snapshots are now the default. To change the behavior to Volume snapshots, instead of Protection Group snapshots, enable volumesnapshotonly in the PureProviderConfig.exe tool.

Enable Volume Snapshot: pureproviderconfig.exe volumesnapshotonly --enable
To see the current setting: pureproviderconfig.exe volumesnapshotonly --status
PureProviderConfig.exe is located by default in the following folder: C:\Program Files\Pure Storage\VSS\Provider

Best Practice: It is recommended that all volumes in a snapshot set are part of the same protection group. Since a protection group snapshot is taken on all volumes that are in the protection group, snapshots can occur on volumes that are not part of the backup set, and for those volumes, the snapshot will be crash consistent not application consistent.

Best Practice: Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs), take considerably longer to flush writes before backup. It is a best practice to backup CSV volumes independently to minimize the following backup failures: 
- Returned HRESULT: 80042313
- Error text: VSS_E_FLUSH_WRITES_TIMEOUT

1.7.0

Released with FA SSMS Extension 1.0. There is no change from version 1.6.0 except functionality required for the FA SSMS Extension 1.0 to work with pRDM disks on vSphere. If you have provider 1.7.0, consider upgrading the FA SSMS Extension to 1.1 which includes the 1.8.0 version of the provider.

Note: Do not upgrade the provider installed with the FA SSMS Extension, with the standalone provider. Download and upgrade the FA SSMS Extension and the provider will be pushed to all configured SQL Servers. 

1.6.0

Released - December 17, 2017

Changes in the 1.6.0 release:

  • Adds support for 10x scale (5,000 volumes & 50,000 snapshots)

    • Requirement: Purity versions 4.8 and higher.

  • Adds support for Windows File Services (WFS) Purity App

    • Requirement: WFS requires Purity 4.10.7 and higher.

  • This release is compatible with all Purity versions 3.4.3 and higher.
1.1.0

Released - February 27, 2017

Changes in the 1.1.0 release:

  • Adds support for Pure Arrays with IPv6 addresses. IPv6 functionality requires Purity versions 4.9 and higher.
  • Fixes an issue that can cause the VSS configuration tool to crash if the command line arguments contain Unicode characters

This release is compatible with all Purity versions 3.4.3 and higher.

1.0.3

Released - June 14, 2016

This minor release improves the VSS plugin's handling of array IDs beginning with 0. Array IDs beginning with 0 previously would cause an error that the LUN “could not be located” to be seen when attempting to add a volume to Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).

1.0.2

Released - March 30, 2016

This minor release has a change that allows the VSS Provider to report better error messages when connecting to a Purity FlashArray that deprecates TLS 1.0.

Known Issues and Limitations

  1. As part of the Purity changes to deprecate support for TLS 1.0, a minor change to VSS utilities is made to report the change in TLS 1.0 support.
  2. Installing on Windows 2008 x32 is no longer possible and the installer no longer includes the 32-bit version. To use the VSS Provider on 32-bit Windows 2008, use version 1.0.1 of the VSS Provider.
  3. Note that Windows 2008 (both 32 and 64 bit editions) do not support TLS 1.1 or 1.2 by default. Any VSS Provider installed on Windows 2008 will not work with Purity release 4.7 and later.

Other Changes

  • As part of this change, the VSS installer and zipped file has been reduced in size dramatically because we no longer distribute release notes or user guide as part of the zipped file. Users will have to consult the latest versions on our Community portal.

Performance Testing

  • No performance testing has been performed for this release.

Distribution

  • The VSS Provider 1.0.2 ships with the Purity 4.7.0, 4.7.1, and 4.7.2 releases.
1.0.1

Released - June 17, 2015

Release Compatibility

  • This release is compatible with Purity Flash arrays that support Public REST API 1.1 or higher.
  • This release supports Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • This release does not support Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2. Installation can be performed, but is not currently supported.

Backup software

The VSS Provider has been tested with the following applications:

  • Microsoft DiskShadow tool.
  • Symantec NetBackup.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2014 are supported to have application consistent backup (Volume Shadow Copies) created.

Volume Replica and Snapshot Names

  • When the VSS Hardware Provider creates a snapshot or a volume replica, it uses special naming convention to identify several aspects of the generated volume or snapshot. The auto generated names start with “VSS" for a volume name or a snapshot suffix. It is important to note that these names should not be manually changed as it will break VSS functionality related to the volume or snapshot.

Known Issues and LImitations

  • If you change a drive letter on the Windows host system that is being tracked by VSS, further VSS operations on the drive may fail.
    Workaround: Rebooting the Windows host may help restore proper operation. However, the Windows disk manager discourages changing drive letters under use.
  • Replication of VSS created snapshots is not supported in VSS 1.0.0 or VSS 1.0.1.
  • Reinstalling Pure Storage VSS Provider without rebooting the Windows Server may fail.
    Workaround: A reboot may be required after uninstalling the VSS Hardware Provider. If when reinstalling the VSS Hardware Provider, the installer appears to stall or an error popup appears, please reboot the system then perform the install again.
  • Creating a Pure Storage VSS Hardware Provider snapshot on Windows 2008 generates multiple warning events.
    When the Pure Storage VSS Hardware Provider successfully creates a snapshot, the process generates multiple warning events in the Windows Log Application view of the Windows Server 2008 Event Viewer. Here is a sample of the details that appear in the warning event:
     
    Volume Shadow Copy Warning: The Provider has reported a storage
    identifier that is not supported by VSS. Codeset:1, Type:4, Size:4,
    NextOffset:24, Association:1. This identifier will be skipped by VSS.

    The warning events, which only occur on Windows Server 2008, are not related to the Pure Storage VSS Hardware Provider and can be ignored. Refer to the following Microsoft KB support article for more information: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951793
    Workaround: No workaround available.

Performance Testing

  • No performance testing has been performed for this release.
1.0.0

Released - July, 2014

Notice

  • Do not rename auto-generated volumes or snapshots
    The VSS Provider uses special naming convention to identify several aspects of the generated volume or snapshot. The auto-generated names start with “VSS-“ for a volume name or a snapshot suffix. These names should not be modified as that change breaks VSS functionality related to the volume or snapshot.

Known Issues and Limitations

  • Multiple warnings on Windows 2008
    On Windows 2008, when the VSS Provider successfully creates a snapshot, the process generates multiple warning events in the Windows Log - Application view of the Windows Server 2008 Event Viewer. Here is a sample of the details that appear in the warning event:

    Volume Shadow Copy Warning: The Provider has reported a storage identifier that is not supported by VSS. Codeset:1, Type:4, Size:4, NextOffset:24, Association:1
    This identifier will be skipped by VSS.

    The warning events, which only occur on Windows Server 2008, are not related to the Pure Storage VSS Hardware Provider and can be ignored. Refer to the following Microsoft KB support article for more information: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951793.

  • Re-installing the VSS Provider
    A reboot may be required after uninstalling the VSS Provider. If when re-installing the VSS Provider, the installer appears to stall or an error pop-up appears, please reboot the system and then perform the install again.
  • Changes to the Windows drive letter
    If you change a drive letter on the Windows host system where VSS is tracking files, further VSS operations on the drive may fail.
    Workaround: Rebooting the Windows host may help restore proper operation. However, the Windows disk manager discourages changing drive letters under use.
  • Replication of VSS-created snapshots
    Replication of VSS-created snapshots is not supported with the VSS Provider 1.0.x.
  • Compatibility issues with Purity 4.1.1 and 4.1.2
    This release of the Provider cannot be used with FlashArrays running Purity 4.1.1 or 4.1.2.

Release Compatibility

  • This release is compatible with Purity FlashArrays that support Public REST API 1.1 or higher.
  • This release supports Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • This release does not support Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2. Installations are allowed, but not currently supported.

Performance Testing

  • No performance testing has been performed for this release.

Distribution

  • The VSS Provider 1.0.0 ships with the Purity 4.0.0 and later releases (up to 4.1.5 in the 4.1.x releases).

VSS Hardware Provider 1.0.1,1.0.3 were minor releases, without user guide changes.