Veeam Agent for Windows 2.1 – Change Block Tracking Filter Driver (Part I)

Who wouldn’t love a faster car? I know I would, but the wife won’t let me! As an example, take my 2010 Honda Civic for a lap around the track and then get behind the wheel of a Ferrari, holy smokes you would immediately notice a huge difference in handling, performance, and speed. Well, I think this goes the same for our backups too – everyone absolutely wants things to get done as fast as possible. Change Block Tracking is like adding a Ferrari to your backups and enables much faster and more frequent backups with less impact to the production system and application. Over the next few posts we’re going to dive into some performance testing that I have been running with the upcoming Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows 2.1 and I think the results are quite impressive!

Before we get into the specifics, it’s important for you to understand – Veeam Backup & Replication Update 3 (currently in RTM) is hands down, the most impactful and feature-rich update that the product has ever seen! The most requested enhancement is the centralized agent management for the Veeam Agent for Windows and the Veeam Agent for Linux. Now, with this centralized management capability – the individual agent products are getting huge facelifts too. For the purpose of today’s post, I’m only going to focus on one specific feature.

Native CBT Driver Installation

Veeam Agent for Windows 2.1 Server Edition is shipping with an optional, signed change block tracking filter driver. If you’re already familiar with the way Veeam’s done CBT, pre-Hyper-V 2016 (Resilient Change Tracking, RCT) then this is essentially the same. Just note – this CBT driver is only applicable to Windows Server-based OS’.

A common question: Should I install this new CBT driver on all of my servers?
Answer: I’d say no. The CBT driver should only be installed on specific servers in the environment that have extensive rates of change – SQL Server is a good example of where yes, most definitely you should install the CBT driver, whereas your typical web server or application server where there is relatively low change.

But why?
Answer: This one is simple – its one less piece to worry about keeping up to date and following the minimalistic approach – if it’s not needed, don’t install it!

The CBT driver is made up of 3 files (C:\Program Files\Veeam\Endpoint Backup\CBTDriver, depending on your OS type there is a different driver)

  • VeeamVolumeCT.cat
  • VeeamVolumeCT.inf
  • VeeamVolumeCT.sys

 

Besides just simply doing a right-click on the .inf file, there are a few other ways to deploy this new change block tracking driver and depending on how you’re deploying he agent will depend upon how to enable CBT.

Option 1: Veeam Backup & Replication Console

Centralized Agent Management within Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3 allows you to not only deploy the Veeam Agent software but also manage the CBT driver. The CBT driver can be deployed within a ‘Protection Group‘ or after the fact through the ‘Inventory.’

Here are a few screenshots:

 

 

 

Option 2: Standalone Agent Settings

A standalone agent is not managed by Veeam Backup & Replication, it operates completely independent, even though it can target a Veeam Repository – the settings are all managed locally, including the CBT driver settings.

 

 

Wrap-Up

Now that we’ve deployed the Veeam Agent for Windows 2.1 new CBT driver, in the next post we’ll compare the performance of a few backups both with and without the driver.

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