Simplifying individual object restores

Having a method for quick and easy restore for individual objects is important in the overall security plans for your shop.

A good security policy always includes backups. We tend to think of these backups as being for recovery of your system from catastrophic loss. But more frequently they are also used to recover individual data and other objects that are lost due to a wide variety of reasons, many of which fall into the security area. Having a method for quick and easy restore for individual objects is important in the overall security plans for your...

iSeries shop.

Many shops resolve this issue by using third-party automated save/restore utilities that provide this function as a standard feature. Others rely on their own methods to get individual objects restored. Too frequently, I have seen this method rely on a lengthy DSPTAP of the backup tape to reach a point where the lost objects to be restored have been listed with their save criteria. For some backups this process can take forever, losing precious time in getting your application back up and running.

A simple solution to this problem is to keep a database on your system with details about each active backup set for your shop. This can be done easily using the OUTPUT parameter on the SAVLIB and/or SAVOBJ command, along with its related parameters OUTFILE, OUTMBR and INFTYPE.

To get started, create a separate library on your system to hold your backup database. This will end up being a multiple member database. For purposes of this example, we'll use the library name of BACKUPDTA and we'll name our database BACKINFO. To get started, run a backup of a single object and specify the following parameters on the SAVOBJ command:

  SAVOBJ OBJ(MYFILE) LIB(RLIBR) DEV(TAP01) OBJTYPE(*FILE)
  OUTPUT(*OUTFILE) OUTFILE(BACKUPDTA/BACKINFO)
  OUTMBR(B030904 *ADD) INFTYPE(*MBR) 

This will create the file as a multiple member database that will become your online backup database. It will add a member to this database named "B030904" that will now contain information about the backup that you just ran.

Then, modify your backup process always to specify these additional parameters. Make sure that you vary the OUTMBR member name to something that will be unique to each backup operation. In this case, I have used the letter 'B' followed by the date in yymmdd format. This makes it easy to identify the correct backup member in the file when it is time to go looking for restore parameters.

You will also need to add a step to the process you use when backup sets are scratched and returned to your pool of blank tapes. When you do that, you'll need to find the associated member and delete it. That will keep this file from getting too large over time.

When it is time to find and restore an individual object, use your favorite file utility to browse the appropriate member and you'll quickly find more than you ever thought you needed to know about a saved object including its sequence number, saved tape label information, the ASP it was saved from and much more. With this information, the exact form of the RSTOBJ command can be easily and quickly determined.

As an additional step, you might also consider saving the database as the last operation in your backup step. That way your database will always be included as a part of the backup set and can be restored to help with problem determination and restore preparation if the online version is also lost.

Finding and restoring individual objects on a backup can be painless and quick using this method. If you have time, you can even add logical file views to your database to locate backup information even more quickly with your file browser.

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About the author: Rich Loeber is president of Kisco Information Systems Inc., in Saranac Lake, N.Y. The company is a provider of various security products for the iSeries market.

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This was first published in October 2003
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