US20100262797A1 - Virtual machine data backup - Google Patents

Virtual machine data backup Download PDF

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US20100262797A1
US20100262797A1 US12/758,245 US75824510A US2010262797A1 US 20100262797 A1 US20100262797 A1 US 20100262797A1 US 75824510 A US75824510 A US 75824510A US 2010262797 A1 US2010262797 A1 US 2010262797A1
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accordance
file
data
block
method
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James Rosikiewicz
Ronald T. McKelvey
Alexander D. Mittell
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PHD Virtual Technology
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PHD Virtual Technology
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Assigned to PHD Virtual Technologies reassignment PHD Virtual Technologies ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MCKELVEY, RONALD T, MITTELL, ALEXANDER D, ROSIKIEWICZ, JAMES
Priority to US12/758,245 priority patent/US20100262797A1/en
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Publication of US20100262797A1 publication Critical patent/US20100262797A1/en
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Assigned to PHD VIRTUAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC. reassignment PHD VIRTUAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC. RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST Assignors: SILICON VALLEY BANK
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F11/00Error detection; Error correction; Monitoring
    • G06F11/07Responding to the occurrence of a fault, e.g. fault tolerance
    • G06F11/14Error detection or correction of the data by redundancy in operation
    • G06F11/1402Saving, restoring, recovering or retrying
    • G06F11/1446Point-in-time backing up or restoration of persistent data
    • G06F11/1458Management of the backup or restore process
    • G06F11/1469Backup restoration techniques
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F11/00Error detection; Error correction; Monitoring
    • G06F11/07Responding to the occurrence of a fault, e.g. fault tolerance
    • G06F11/14Error detection or correction of the data by redundancy in operation
    • G06F11/1402Saving, restoring, recovering or retrying
    • G06F11/1415Saving, restoring, recovering or retrying at system level
    • G06F11/1438Restarting or rejuvenating
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F11/00Error detection; Error correction; Monitoring
    • G06F11/07Responding to the occurrence of a fault, e.g. fault tolerance
    • G06F11/14Error detection or correction of the data by redundancy in operation
    • G06F11/1479Generic software techniques for error detection or fault masking
    • G06F11/1482Generic software techniques for error detection or fault masking by means of middleware or OS functionality
    • G06F11/1484Generic software techniques for error detection or fault masking by means of middleware or OS functionality involving virtual machines
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/10File systems; File servers

Abstract

Disclosed is a method and system for efficiently backing up a virtual machine file. A virtual machine file is logically divided into a plurality of fixed-size blocks of similar size, for example, a number of 1 MB data blocks. An MD5 hash value is generated from the contents of each block. Each block is written to a file having a filename that includes a filesystem-compliant form (e.g., hexadecimal form) of the computed MD5 hash value. A backup device includes a directory hierarchy having a plurality of first-level directories corresponding to the first two bytes of the hash value, and a plurality of second-level directories corresponding to the next two bytes of the hash value. The blocks are uniquely stored in the directory corresponding to the byte value pairs of the hash. The present disclosure provides data integrity checking and reduces storage requirements for duplicative, redundant, or null data.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/168,315, filed on Apr. 10, 2009, entitled “VIRTUAL MACHINE DATA BACKUP”; U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/168,318, filed on Apr. 10, 2009, entitled “VIRTUAL MACHINE FILE-LEVEL RESTORATION”; and U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/172,435, filed on Apr. 24, 2009, entitled “VIRTUAL MACHINE DATA REPLICATION”; the entirety of each are hereby incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND
  • 1. Technical Field
  • The present disclosure relates to computer data backup, and in particular, to a system and method for performing block-level backups of virtual machine, wherein backed up data is stored in de-duplicated form in a hierarchical directory structure.
  • 2. Background of Related Art
  • Continuing advances in storage technology allow vast amounts of digital data to be stored cheaply and efficiently. However, in the event of a failure or catastrophe, equally vast amounts of data can be lost. Therefore, data backup is a critical component of computer-based systems. As used herein, the term “backup” may refer to the act of creating copies of data, and may refer to the actual backed-up copy of the original data. The original data typically resides on a hard drive, or on an array of hard drives, but may also reside on other forms of storage media, such as solid state memory. Data backups are necessary for several reasons, including disaster recovery, restoring data lost due to storage media failure, recovering accidentally deleted data, and repairing corrupted data resulting from malfunctioning or malicious software.
  • A virtual machine (VM) is a software abstraction of an underlying physical (i.e., hardware) machine which enables one or more instances of an operating system, or even one or more operating systems, to run concurrently on a physical host machine. Virtual machines have become popular with administrators of data centers, which can contain dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of physical machines. The use of virtual servers greatly simplifies the task of configuring and administering servers in a large scale environment, because a virtual machine may be quickly placed into service without incurring the expense of provisioning a hardware machine at a data center. Virtualization is highly scalable, enabling servers to be allocated or deallocated in response to changes in demand. Support and administration requirements may be reduced because virtual servers are readily monitored and accessed using remote administration tools and diagnostic software.
  • In one aspect, a virtual server consists of three components. The first component is virtualization software configured to run on the host machine which performs the hardware abstraction, often referred to as a hypervisor. The second component is a data file which represents the filesystem of the virtual machine, which typically contains the virtual machine's operating system, applications, data files, etc. A virtual machine data file may be a hard disk image file, such as, without limitation, a Virtual Machine Disk Format (VMDK) format file. Thus, for each virtual machine, a separate virtual machine file is required. The third component is the physical machine on which the virtualization software executes. A physical machine may include a processor, random-access memory, internal or external disk storage, and input/output interfaces, such as network, storage, and desktop interfaces (e.g., keyboard, pointing device, and graphic display interfaces.)
  • In installations having many machines, traditional methods of performing backups may become burdensome and tend to be unduly resource-intensive, particularly in a virtual environment. In addition, backing up multiple instances of essentially identical virtual servers (as typically found in, e.g., “server farms” or in clustered systems”) often results in large amounts of redundant backup data, which becomes difficult to manage and store. A backup system which performs virtual server backups with increased efficiency and effectiveness would be a welcome advance.
  • SUMMARY
  • The disclosed method processes 1 MB fixed-length blocks of data of a virtual machine file. A unique identifier, such as without limitation, an MD5 hash, is created for this block data. The 1 MB of data can be compressed, or left uncompressed. The 1 MB of data is stored as a single file. The file name is the MD5 hash value of the 1 MB data block. The hash of this file is saved to a separate index file for later use to retrieve, validate, and rebuild the backup data. The data blocks, whether in compressed or uncompressed form, are stored at a storage destination, in a unique directory structure consisting of 256 first level directories designated as 00-FF, each having 256 second level directories designated as 00-FF within, comprising 65,536 directories in total. The 1 MB compressed (or uncompressed) data files are stored in the directory structure based on the first four bytes of the hash, e.g.,
      • “./00/22/T.002249a8a218ef8a4da87550f388942d.gz”.
  • The first four bytes of data for the file name are “0022”. The file is stored in directory “./00/22/”. The .gz extension indicates the file is compressed.
  • Subsequent backups are performed having as a destination the same storage location. Data blocks are generated using the above unique hash. A file query is made to the storage location to see if there is already a file existing with the same hash. If the file does not exist, the source data is written into the directory hierarchy with the hash as the file name and an index file is updated. If the file exists, then only the index file is updated for the current backup being run.
  • Over time the directory structure will accumulate data blocks from all backups sent thereto. A separate index file is created for each backup, and is used to keep track of the blocks of data for, e.g., re-assembling data block of the original source during restoration.
  • The use of a hash also provides a self-checking mechanism which enables self-validation of the data within the stored file. A routine is scheduled to run on an ad-hoc or periodic basis that reads the data within a stored file, and validates the data in the file to verify a match to the hash file name. If the data does not match, the block is considered suspect, and is slated to be deleted. All associated backups that include this data block are flagged as “bad”. The index file corresponding to backups so flagged may additionally or alternatively include a “bad” flag.
  • In an embodiment, the data blocks (e.g., the 1 MB data blocks) may be evaluated to determine whether the data contained therein exhibits a predefined (“special”) data pattern. For example with limitation, a special data pattern may include a particular or repeating pattern, e.g., a data block consisting entirely of zero (00H) bytes. In this instance; a special hash is generated that represents the special data block containing the particular data pattern. The special hash may be hard-coded, defined in a database, and/or defined in a configuration file. Since the contents of a special data block is predefined, it is only necessary to record the fact that the data block is special. It is unnecessary to store the actual contents of a special block. Thus, for each data block identified as special, the index file is updated accordingly and the backup proceeds. In this manner, resources are conserved since special blocks, e.g., null blocks, do not consume space on the storage device, do not use communication bandwidth during backup and restoration procedures, do not require as much computational resources, and so forth. This provides an efficient way to skip special (e.g., null) data in a given backup set.
  • In another aspect, disclosed is a method for backing up computer data that includes the steps of dividing a source data file into a plurality of fixed size blocks, wherein each block is of equal blocksize. A unique block identifier relating to the contents of a fixed size block is generated. On a destination storage device, a directory hierarchy is provided having a plurality of first-level directories corresponding to a first portion of the unique block identifier, and a plurality of second-level directories corresponding to a second portion of the unique block identifier. A datablock file representative of the fixed size block is stored in a corresponding second level directory.
  • In yet another aspect, disclosed is machine-readable media comprising a set of instructions configured to perform a method for backing up computer data that includes the steps of dividing a source data file into a plurality of fixed size blocks, wherein each block is of equal blocksize. A unique block identifier relating to the contents of a fixed size block is generated. On a destination storage device, a directory hierarchy is provided having a plurality of first-level directories corresponding to a first portion of the unique block identifier, and a plurality of second-level directories corresponding to a second portion of the unique block identifier. A datablock file representative of the fixed size block is stored in a corresponding second level directory.
  • Also disclosed is a system for performing data backup that includes a processor, a storage device operably coupled to the processor, and a data backup module. The data backup module including a set of instructions executable on the processor for performing a method of data backup. The method includes the steps of dividing a source data file into a plurality of fixed size blocks, wherein each block is of equal blocksize. A unique block identifier relating to the contents of a fixed size block is generated. On a destination storage device, a directory hierarchy is provided having a plurality of first-level directories corresponding to a first portion of the unique block identifier, and a plurality of second-level directories corresponding to a second portion of the unique block identifier. A datablock file representative of the fixed size block is stored in a corresponding second level directory.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The above and other aspects, features, and advantages of the present disclosure will become more apparent in light of the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 shows a block diagram of an embodiment of a virtual machine backup system in accordance with the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a virtual machine backup method in accordance with the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating a directory hierarchy of an embodiment of a virtual machine backup in accordance with the present disclosure; and
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of a virtual machine backup in accordance with the present disclosure.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Particular embodiments of the present disclosure are described hereinbelow with reference to the accompanying drawings; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely examples of the disclosure, which may be embodied in various forms. Well-known functions or constructions are not described in detail to avoid obscuring the present disclosure in unnecessary detail. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present disclosure in virtually any appropriately detailed structure. In the discussion contained herein, the terms user interface element and/or button are understood to be non-limiting, and include other user interface elements such as, without limitation, a hyperlink, clickable image, and the like.
  • Additionally, the present invention may be described herein in terms of functional block components, code listings, optional selections, page displays, and various processing steps. It should be appreciated that such functional blocks may be realized by any number of hardware and/or software components configured to perform the specified functions. For example, the present invention may employ various integrated circuit components, e.g., memory elements, processing elements, logic elements, look-up tables, and the like, which may carry out a variety of functions under the control of one or more microprocessors or other control devices.
  • Similarly, the software elements of the present invention may be implemented with any programming or scripting language such as C, C++, C#, Java, COBOL, assembler, PERL, Python, PHP, or the like, with the various algorithms being implemented with any combination of data structures, objects, processes, routines or other programming elements. The object code created may be executed by any computer having an Internet Web Browser, on a variety of operating systems including Windows, Macintosh, and/or Linux.
  • Further, it should be noted that the present invention may employ any number of conventional techniques for data transmission, signaling, data processing, network control, and the like.
  • It should be appreciated that the particular implementations shown and described herein are illustrative of the invention and its best mode and are not intended to otherwise limit the scope of the present invention in any way. Examples are presented herein which may include sample data items (e.g., names, dates, etc.) which are intended as examples and are not to be construed as limiting. Indeed, for the sake of brevity, conventional data networking, application development and other functional aspects of the systems (and components of the individual operating components of the systems) may not be described in detail herein. Furthermore, the connecting lines shown in the various figures contained herein are intended to represent example functional relationships and/or physical or virtual couplings between the various elements. It should be noted that many alternative or additional functional relationships or physical or virtual connections may be present in a practical electronic data communications system.
  • As will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the present invention may be embodied as a method, a data processing system, a device for data processing, and/or a computer program product. Accordingly, the present invention may take the form of an entirely software embodiment, an entirely hardware embodiment, or an embodiment combining aspects of both software and hardware. Furthermore, the present invention may take the form of a computer program product on a computer-readable storage medium having computer-readable program code means embodied in the storage medium. Any suitable computer-readable storage medium may be utilized, including hard disks, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, optical storage devices, magnetic storage devices, semiconductor storage devices (e.g., USB thumb drives) and/or the like.
  • The present invention is described below with reference to block diagrams and flowchart illustrations of methods, apparatus (e.g., systems), and computer program products according to various aspects of the invention. It will be understood that each functional block of the block diagrams and the flowchart illustrations, and combinations of functional blocks in the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations, respectively, can be implemented by computer program instructions. These computer program instructions may be loaded onto a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions that execute on the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus create means for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks.
  • These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer-readable memory that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer-readable memory produce an article of manufacture including instruction means that implement the function specified in the flowchart block or blocks. The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer-implemented process such that the instructions that execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide steps for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks.
  • Accordingly, functional blocks of the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations support combinations of means for performing the specified functions, combinations of steps for performing the specified functions, and program instruction means for performing the specified functions. It will also be understood that each functional block of the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations, and combinations of functional blocks in the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations, can be implemented by either special purpose hardware-based computer systems that perform the specified functions or steps, or suitable combinations of special purpose hardware and computer instructions.
  • One skilled in the art will also appreciate that, for security reasons, any databases, systems, or components of the present invention may consist of any combination of databases or components at a single location or at multiple locations, wherein each database or system includes any of various suitable security features, such as firewalls, access codes, encryption, de-encryption, compression, decompression, and/or the like.
  • The scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given herein. For example, the steps recited in any method claims may be executed in any order and are not limited to the order presented in the claims. Moreover, no element is essential to the practice of the invention unless specifically described herein as “critical” or “essential.”
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a representative operating environment 100 for an example embodiment of a virtual machine backup system 105 in accordance with the present disclosure. Representative operating environment 100 includes virtual machine backup system 105 which can be a personal computer (PC) or a server, which further includes at least one system bus 150 which couples system components, including at least one processor 110; a system memory 115 which may include random-access memory (RAM); at least one storage device 130, such as without limitation one or more hard disks, CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs, or other non-volatile storage devices, such as without limitation flash memory devices; and a data network interface 140. System bus 150 may include any type of data communication structure, including without limitation a memory bus or memory controller, a peripheral bus, a virtual bus, a software bus, and/or a local bus using any bus architecture such as without limitation PCI, USB or IEEE 1394 (Firewire). Data network interface 140 may be a wired network interface such as a 100Base-T Fast Ethernet interface, or a wireless network interface such as without limitation a wireless network interface compliant with the IEEE 802.11 (i.e., WiFi), GSM, or CDMA standard.
  • Virtual machine backup system 105 may be operated in a networked environment via data network interface 140, wherein system 105 is connected to one or more virtual machine hosts 160 by a data network 180, such as a local area network or the Internet, for the transmission and reception of data, such as without limitation backing up and restoring virtual machine data files as will be further described herein. Each of the one or more virtual machine hosts 160 may include one or more virtual machines 170 operating therein, as will be appreciated by the skilled artisan.
  • Virtual machine backup system 105 includes a virtual machine backup module 120 that is configured to perform a method of virtual machine data backup as described herein. In an embodiment, virtual machine backup module 120 includes a set of programmable instructions adapted to execute on processor 100 for performing the disclosed method of virtual machine data backup. In particular, a method for backing up a virtual disk file or virtual machine file, e.g., a VMDK file, is presented herein. With reference to FIG. 2, a virtual machine file 420 slated for backup may be stored on a storage device, such as without limitation, hard disk 410. While it is contemplated that hard disk 410 may be included within a virtual machine host, is it to be understood that a virtual machine file 420 may be stored on a hard disk array, such as a storage-area network (SAN), a redundant array of independent disks (RAID), network-attached storage (NAS) and/or on any storage medium now or in the future known.
  • The virtual machine file 420 is logically divided into a number of fixed-length blocks 430 of like size. In one embodiment, a blocksize of 1 MB is used, however, it is to be understood that a blocksize of less than 1 MB, or greater than 1 MB, may be used within the scope of the disclosed method. In one aspect, the blocksize is determined at least in part by a correlation between performance and blocksize. Other parameters affecting blocksize may include, without limitation, a data bus speed, a data bus width, a virtual machine file size, a processor speed, a storage device bandwidth, and a network throughput. If a virtual machine does not precisely equal a multiple of a chosen fixed blocksize, the remainder may be padded with e.g., zeros, nulls, or any other fill pattern, to achieve a set of equal-sized blocks.
  • An individual backup data file 445 is created from each fixed-length block 430 of the virtual machine file 420. In an embodiment, individual backup data file 445 may be given a temporary filename, and/or stored in a temporary location, e.g., /var/tmp/block000001.dat. A hash is generated according to the contents of each individual backup data file. In an embodiment, a 4,096 bit MD5 hash is used to create the hash value from the contents thereof. The resultant hash value is stored in an index file corresponding to the current backup session which store for later use during, e.g., data restoration. The index file may include, without limitation, a list of data blocks comprising the backup set, hash values corresponding thereto, a date and time of backup, a source location, and a destination location. A collection of hash values representative of a backup of virtual machine file, and data associated therewith, may be stored in an index file 455. Such a collection, together with the individual backup data files comprising the backed-up virtual machine file 420 is known as a “backup set.”
  • Additionally or alternatively, the data block 430 may be compressed during a compression step 432 using any suitable manner of data compression, including without limitation, LZW, zip, gzip, rar, and/or bzip. Preferably, lossless data compression is used however in certain embodiments lossy data compression may advantageously be used.
  • The hash value may be regarded as a unique block identifier, or a unique identifier of a backup data file 455. A non-temporary (“archival”) filename of the backup data file may be generated, at least in part, from the hash value, as illustrated in step 434. For example, the filename of a backup data file 455 may be created by appending a hexadecimal representation of the hash value to a file prefix and/or to an appropriate file extension. Each backup data file 455 comprising the virtual machine file therefore has a unique filename based upon the hash value.
  • As seen in FIG. 3, a hierarchical directory structure 300 is provided on a backup storage device, e.g., storage device 130, for storing the backup data files. The disclosed structure has at a first level thereof a plurality of directories 320 et seq. (e.g., folders). Each first level directory contains therein a plurality of second level directories 330. In an embodiment, the hierarchy includes 256 first level directories, wherein each first level directory includes 256 second level directories, for a total number of 65,536 directories. The first level and second level directories may be named in accordance with a sixteen bit hexadecimal value, e.g., 00-FF. Thus, for example, a plurality of first level directories may be named in accordance with the series ./00, ./01, ./02 . . . ./FF while a second level of directories may be named ./00/01, ./00/02/ . . . ./00/FF. Other directory mapping schemes are envisioned within the scope of the present disclosure, such as without limitation, a directory hierarchy having fewer than two levels, a directory hierarchy having greater than two levels, a directory hierarchy having a directory naming convention that includes fewer than a sixteen bit hexadecimal value, a directory hierarchy having a directory naming convention that includes greater than a sixteen bit hexadecimal value, and/or a directory hierarchy having a directory naming convention that includes an alternative naming encoding, such as octal, ASCII85, and the like.
  • With reference now to FIG. 2, each backup data file may advantageously be stored (e.g., copied or moved) in the directory hierarchy in accordance with the first 4 bytes of the hash value thereof. By way of example only, assume a backup data file representing a 1 MB block of a virtual machine file has an MD5 hash value of:
      • 010249a8a218ef8a4da87550f388942d
  • The backup data file may be compressed with gzip and renamed in accordance with the present disclosure, e.g.:
      • T.010249a8a218ef8a4da87550f388942d.gz
  • Taking the first four bytes of the hash value, two at a time, the destination directory is identified as:
      • ./01/02
  • The backup data file is stored in the identified destination directory, hence the full pathname of the backup data file may be expressed as:
      • ./01/02T/.010249a8a218ef8a4da87550f388942d.gz
  • In this manner, each unique data block 430 corresponds to a backup data file 445 uniquely stored within the directory hierarchy 300. The present disclosure also contemplates a filename/directory mapping which uses greater than, less than, and/or other than the first four bytes of the hash value. During execution of a subsequent backup process, a filename is generated as previously described. A file query is made to the storage device, e.g., it is determined whether a backup data file having the same filename exists and if so, it is presumed the block is unchanged from the prior backup, and the index file corresponding to the subsequent backup is updated to include the existing (e.g., unchanged) block. If, however, it is determined whether a backup data file having the same filename does not exist, it is presumed the block changed and the newly-created backup data file is stored within the directory hierarchy as previously described herein, and a corresponding entry is written to the index file. In this manner, by ensuring that duplicate copies of data block are stored only once, increasing efficiency, e.g., increased execution speed and reduced resource usage, are provided by a backup performed in accordance with the present disclosure.
  • Advantageously, the disclosed method provides data integrity validation, which may identify data corruption. During data integrity validation, a backup data block is read (and, if required, expanded to an uncompressed form) whereupon a hash value is generated from the stored contents therein and compared to the hash value included in the filename. If the computed hash value corresponds to the filename hash value, it is presumed the archived data is correct and intact. If, however, a discrepancy is identified between the expected (filename) hash value and the actual (computed) hash value, the data block is flagged as bad. Any backup sets that include a bad backup data file may also be flagged as bad. Bad backup data files and/or backup sets may be slated for immediate deletion, or may be scheduled for deletion at a future time. Integrity validation may be performed on a periodic or routine basis, or may be performed prior to data restoration from a backup set.
  • In another aspect, a virtual machine data block may be evaluated to determine whether it contains all zero bytes, all one bytes, contains null data, or exhibits some other relatively simple data pattern which obviates the need to physically store such data block. In this event, a unique “null” hash is generated and included within the index file, together with any associated data, without writing a backup data file to the storage device.
  • Turning to FIG. 4, an embodiment of the disclosed method begins in the step 205 and in the step 210, the first datablock 430 of a virtual machine file 420 is read. In the step 215, the datablock is evaluated to determine whether it exhibits a special data pattern, e.g., whether the datablock consists entirely of zeros (00H). If the datablock exhibits a special data pattern, in the step 225 a corresponding special unique block identifier is assigned to the datablock. In an embodiment, the special unique block identifier is a 32-digit hexadecimal number consisting of all zeros. The process continues with the step 245, as discussed below.
  • If, however in the step 215 it is determined the datablock does not exhibit a special data pattern, then in the step 220 a hash function is performed on the contents of the datablock to generate a unique block identifier corresponding to the datablock. In an embodiment, the hash function is an MD5 hash function. The step 230 is performed next wherein the destination directory 330 et seq. within the directory hierarchy 300 is determined. The destination directory 330 et seq. is based at least in part upon the value of specific digits within the unique block identifier. In an embodiment, the first two bytes of the unique block identifier (e.g., the two most significant digits of the hash) represent the first level directory 320 et seq. within the directory hierarchy. The next two bytes of the unique block identifier (e.g., the next two most significant digits of the hash) represent the second level directory 330 et seq. within the directory hierarchy. The pathname of the datablock file as stored within the directory hierarchy may be formed by concatenating a pathname root string (e.g., “/mnt/bck/”), the first two significant hexadecimal digits of the unique identifier (e.g., “01”), a directory delimiter character (e.g., “/”), the next two significant hexadecimal digits of the unique identifier (e.g., “02”), a directory delimiter character (e.g., “/”), and the file name of the datablock (e.g., 010249a8a218ef8a4da87550f388942d.dat.
  • In the step 235, the datablock 430 is optionally compressed to reduce the amount of storage resources that will be required to store the datablock file. In embodiments, the manner of compression may be hard-coded, defined in a database (e.g., a registry database), and/or defined in a configuration file (e.g., via a “preferences” or “options” setting provided by a user interface or by hand-editing a configuration file) in accordance with user requirements. Any suitable manner of data compression may be employed, including without limitation, LZW, zip, gzip, rar, and/or bzip. Additionally or alternatively, the datablock may be cryptographically encoded using any suitable cryptosystem, including without limitation a symmetric-key cryptosystem (e.g., DES, Triple-DES, AES, and the like) or a public-key cryptosystem (e.g., RSA, Diffie-Hellman, elliptic curve techniques, and the like.)
  • In the step 240, the datablock 430 (which may be in its original form, compressed, encrypted, and/or combinations thereof) is written to a corresponding datablock file 445 in the destination directory 335 et seq. In the step 245, an index file entry 446 corresponding to the datablock 430 in an index file 445 is created. The index file 445 may contain entries relating solely to the current backup set, or may contain entries relating to a plurality of backup sets. In an embodiment, the index file 445 includes a database. For each corresponding datablock 430 identified within the index file 445, an index file entry 446 may include, without limitation, a unique block identifier value, a timestamp of the backup set, a timestamp relating to the backup time of the individual datablock, a datablock source location, a datablock destination location. In embodiments, the datablock source location may include an identifier relating to the virtual machine from which the backup set was generated, a virtual machine host identifier, a machine name, a node name, a network address (e.g., an internet protocol address), a software identifier, a hardware identifier, an encryption key, and the like. In embodiments, the datablock destination location may include an identifier relating to the storage device on which the datablock file 445 is stored, a destination directory in which the datablock file 445 is stored, a pathname of the datablock file, a filename of the datablock file, a unique block identifier value, and the like.
  • In the step 250, a test is performed whereby it is determined whether all datablocks 430 of the virtual machine file 420 have been processed. If not, the method 200 iterates to the step 210 wherein the next datablock 430 of the virtual machine file 420 is read, and processing proceeds as described hereinabove.
  • The present disclosure is also directed to a computer-based apparatus and a computing system configured to perform a method of data backup as described herein. Also disclosed is computer-readable media comprising a set of instructions of performing a method of data backup as described herein.
  • While several embodiments of the disclosure have been shown in the drawings and/or discussed herein, it is not intended that the disclosure be limited thereto, as it is intended that the disclosure be as broad in scope as the art will allow and that the specification be read likewise. Therefore, the above description should not be construed as limiting, but merely as exemplifications of particular embodiments. The claims can encompass embodiments in hardware, software, or a combination thereof. Those skilled in the art will envision other modifications within the scope and spirit of the claims appended hereto.

Claims (21)

1. A method for backing up computer data, comprising the steps of:
dividing a source data file into a plurality of fixed size blocks, wherein each block is of equal blocksize;
generating a unique block identifier relating to the contents of a fixed size block;
on a destination storage device, providing a directory hierarchy having a plurality of first-level directories corresponding to a first portion of the unique block identifier and a plurality of second-level directories corresponding to a second portion of the unique block identifier; and
storing a datablock file representative of the fixed size block in a corresponding second level directory.
2. The method in accordance with claim 1, further comprising:
providing an index file corresponding to the source data file; and
storing the unique block identifier in the index file.
3. The method in accordance with claim 1, wherein the fixed block size is in a range of about 256 KB to about 8 MB.
4. The method in accordance with claim 1, further comprising the step of compressing the datablock file representative of the fixed size block.
5. The method in accordance with claim 1, further comprising the step of encrypting the datablock file representative of the fixed size block.
6. The method in accordance with claim 1, wherein the unique block identifier is a hash is generated in accordance with an MD5 algorithm
7. The method in accordance with claim 1, further comprising the step of naming the datablock file representative of a fixed size block in accordance with the unique block identifier.
8. The method in accordance with claim 1, further comprising the steps of:
computing a unique block identifier of a stored datablock file;
retrieving a stored unique block identifier corresponding to the stored datablock;
determining a property of the stored datablock by comparing the computed unique block identifier to the stored unique block identifier.
9. The method in accordance with claim 1, further comprising:
determining whether the fixed size block consists of a simple data pattern.
10. The method in accordance with claim 9, wherein the simple data pattern is selected from a group consisting of all zeros, all ones, and all nulls.
11. A system for performing data backup, comprising:
a processor;
a storage device operably coupled to the processor; and
a data backup module including a set of instructions executable on the processor for performing a method of data backup comprising the steps of:
dividing a source data file into a plurality of fixed size blocks, wherein each block is of equal blocksize;
generating a unique block identifier relating to the contents of a fixed size block;
on the storage device, providing a directory hierarchy having a plurality of first-level directories corresponding to a first portion of the unique block identifier and a plurality of second-level directories corresponding to a second portion of the unique block identifier; and
storing a datablock file representative of the fixed size block in a corresponding second level directory.
12. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the method of data backup further comprises the steps of:
providing an index file corresponding to the source data file; and
storing the unique block identifier in the index file.
13. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the fixed block size is in a range of about 256 KB to about 8 MB.
14. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the method of data backup further comprises the step of compressing the datablock file representative of the fixed size block.
15. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the method of data backup further comprises the step of encrypting the datablock file representative of the fixed size block.
16. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the unique block identifier is a hash is generated in accordance with an MD5 algorithm
17. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the method of data backup further comprises the step of naming the datablock file representative of a fixed size block in accordance with the unique block identifier.
18. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the method of data backup further comprises the steps of:
computing a unique block identifier of a stored datablock file;
retrieving a stored unique block identifier corresponding to the stored datablock;
determining a property of the stored datablock by comparing the computed unique block identifier to the stored unique block identifier.
19. The system in accordance with claim 11, wherein the method of data backup further comprises the step of determining whether the fixed size block consists of a simple data pattern.
20. The system in accordance with claim 19, wherein the simple data pattern is selected from a group consisting of all zeros, all ones, and all nulls.
21. Machine-readable media comprising a set of instructions configured to perform the method of data backup in accordance with claims 1 though 10.
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