Storage

Administering removable storage: Interacting manually

If you have removable storage devices, you might have need to manually interact with them. Talainia Posey offers up her advice on manually interacting with your removable storage devices.


So far in this Daily Drill Down series (“Troubleshooting removable storage in Windows 2000” and “Administering removable storage with a snap-in”), I’ve discussed some techniques for interacting with removable storage devices. However, everything that I’ve discussed so far assumes that you either have a standalone removable storage device, such as a CD-ROM drive, or that your applications handle all of the configuration issues for your media pools.

In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll conclude the series by discussing some ways that you can manually interact with removable storage devices.

Creating and removing media pools
Most of the time, your applications will define your media pools for you. However, depending on the individual applications and your specific removable storage hardware, it’s conceivable that you may have to manually define your media pools. In this section, I’ll explain how to add and remove media pools manually.

To manually create a media pool, open the Removable Storage Management console. Navigate through the console tree to Console Root | Removable Storage (Local) | Media Pools. You’ll see a list appear at the right detailing which media pools already exist. From here, you can either create an entirely new media pool or you can create a child media pool that’s based on an existing media pool. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t create a child media pool off of the Free, Import, or Unrecognized folders. You can only create a child media pool off of a media pool that’s been created manually or by an application.

To create the new media pool, right-click on either the Media Pools folder or on the parent media pool and select the Create Media Pool command from the resulting context menu. You’ll see the Create A New Media Pool Properties sheet.

You can begin the creation process by filling in a name and description for the new media pool. Next, you’ll have to decide whether you want to make the new media pool a parent media pool or a standalone media pool. You can do this by selecting either the Contains Other Media Pools or the Contains Media Of Type radio button. For the purposes of this example, I’ll be creating a standalone media pool. The next step in the process is to select the type of media that the media pool will be using from the drop-down list.

At this point, you’ll have to make a few choices regarding the behavior of the media pool that you’re creating. In Figure A, you’ll notice three check boxes at the bottom of the window. These check boxes control the way that the newly created media pool interacts with removable storage. The Draw Media From Free Media Pool check box gives the media pool the ability to get media from the free media pool if it runs out of space. Likewise, the Return Media To Free Media Pool check box tells the new media pool to put anything that it isn’t using back into the free media pool. Finally, the Limit Reallocations check box allows you to control the maximum number of times that the media pool can draw from the free media pool.

Figure A
When manually creating a media pool, you must define the new media pool’s desired behavior.


In Figure A, you might have noticed that the Create A New Media Pool Properties sheet contains a Security tab. This Security tab functions just like any other Windows 2000 Security tab. It allows you to define who can and can’t use, modify, or control the new media pool. When you’ve defined all of the necessary settings, you can create the media pool by clicking OK.

As you can see, there were a lot of choices to be made regarding the behavior of the media pool. If you ever need to change any of the settings that you defined, including the role of the media pool (parent or standalone), you can do so by right-clicking on the media pool from within the console tree and selecting the Properties command from the resulting context menu. Doing so displays the screen that you saw in Figure A and gives you the chance to change any necessary settings.

Now that you’ve created a media pool, you need to make some media available to it. If you’re using a standalone drive for removable storage, there’s nothing to the process beyond simply inserting the media into the drive. However, if you’re using something more complex, such as a robotic tape library, there is a procedure that you’ll need to follow. Insert your media into the library. Next, right-click on the library (not the media pool) and select the Inject command from the resulting context menu. Once the loading (injecting) process has completed, you can verify the success of the operation by right-clicking on the library and selecting the Inventory command from the context menu.

Now that you know how to create a media pool and load media into a library, let’s look at getting rid of the media pool. If you decide that you want to remove the media from the library before deleting the media pool, you can do so by right-clicking on the library and using the Eject command found on the context menu.

Deleting the media pool is just about as simple. Simply right-click on the media pool and select the Delete command from the resulting context menu. When you do, you’ll see the standard Are You Sure message. Click Yes and the media pool is gone.

Interacting with the work queues
As I mentioned in one of the previous Daily Drill Downs, the work queues are simply a place in which commands are stored until they can be processed. However, there is more to the work queues than meets the eye. The work queues can act as an event log that shows you what’s been going on. There is also a degree of interactivity that you can have over the work queues. It’s definitely worth taking a closer look at this feature.

If you navigate through the console tree to the Work Queues container, you’ll probably see an empty list. Unless, of course, the server can’t keep up with all of the operator requests or errors have been occurring. In such a situation, the first thing that you’ll want to take a look at is the work queue’s settings. To do so, right-click on an empty area in the work queue list and select the Properties command from the resulting context menu. You’ll see the Work Queue Properties sheet. As you can see in Figure B, the properties sheet is set to automatically delete completed requests and failed requests. Therefore, if you want to take a closer look at what’s going on, you’ll probably want to set Windows 2000 to keep a log of the requests. Keep in mind, though, that to avoid running the server out of hard disk space, requests will eventually be deleted after a time period that you specify. The default value is 72 hours.

Figure B
Requests are automatically deleted by default.


Now that you know how to display a complete work queue list, you may be wondering what you can do with it. First, like with the event logs, you can right-click on any item on the list and select the Properties command from the resulting context menu to get more information about the item. For example, you can view a complete error message in this way. If an item is pending, you can cancel it by right-clicking on the item and selecting the Cancel command from the resulting context menu.

Normally, queue items are processed on a first-come, first-served basis (FIFO). However, you can change the order of a pending command by right-clicking on it and selecting the Reorder command from the context menu. Doing so displays the Change Mount Order dialog box. This simple dialog box allows you to move an object to the front of the queue, the back of the queue, or to any other location within the queue at the click of a button.

Managing operator requests
Operator requests occur when a user or application tries to complete an action that requires manual intervention. For example, if a user requests data from a tape that isn’t mounted, the operator will be requested to mount the tape. Normally, when an operator request occurs, all that an operator has to do to clear the message is to perform the requested action, right-click on the request, and choose the Complete command from the context menu. However, there may occasionally be times when manual intervention is in order. For example, you may want to deny a request or trick the system into thinking that the request has already been completed.

Before I get into a discussion of how to manage individual requests, let’s take a look at some of the settings that apply to all operator requests. To do so, right-click on the Operator Requests container and select the Properties command from the resulting context menu. You’ll see a screen that’s almost identical to the one shown in Figure B. This screen allows you to control which requests are and aren’t displayed.

You can also control the way that Windows 2000 notifies you of an operator request. By default, Windows 2000 is configured to send an alert via the messenger service and to display a tray icon on the server console whenever a work request is issued. You can change this by right-clicking on the Removable Storage (Local) container and selecting the Properties command from the resulting context menu. When you do, you’ll see the Removable Storage (Local) Properties sheet, as shown in Figure C. As you can see in the figure, this properties sheet provides you with a summary of how many requests are outstanding. It also allows you to select which notification methods you want to use by simply selecting a check box.

Figure C
You can control how Windows 2000 notifies an operator of a new work queue request.


Keeping it clean
One final issue that needs to be addressed is cleaning the individual drives that your remote storage library uses. Some applications automatically schedule cleaning times and keep a cleaning cartridge in a tape library. However, not all applications are smart enough to do this. If you use a single unit removable storage device, you don’t have to worry about configuring the cleaning operations because you’ll have to manually eject the existing media and replace it with a cleaning cartridge. However, if you do have a tape library, then you can have some control over the cleaning process.

To do so, right-click on the drive that you want to clean and select the Cleaner Management command from the resulting context menu. Doing so will launch a wizard that you can use to schedule the drive’s cleaning.

Conclusion
In this Daily Drill Down series, I’ve discussed the way that Windows 2000 interacts with removable storage devices. I also explained how to configure removable storage devices and media pools in various situations.

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