5 1 0:About Backup

From SEPsesam

Welcome to the latest SEP sesam documentation version 5.1.0 Apollon. For previous documentation version(s), check documentation archive.


SEP sesam is a highly efficient enterprise backup solution for heterogeneous environments that enables reliable backup and restore of various operating systems, applications and emails, databases and virtual platforms.

SEP sesam backup is a process whereby file system and application data specified by a backup task is copied and stored in a highly secure manner from primary storage to secondary storage that can be located virtually anywhere, i.e. onsite/offsite, on disc or tape, at a physical location, at a remote location or in a cloud.

Protection of heterogeneous environments

SEP sesam is designed for heterogeneous environments and provides backup and restore of various applications, databases and VMs.

  • Multi-hypervisor support: Citrix (XCP-ng/XenServer), Hyper-V, KVM/QEMU, OpenNebula, RHV, OLVM, VMware, Proxmox VE, Nutanix AHV
  • Databases: Oracle, SAP, MS SQL, IBM DB2, Informix, SAP ERP with MaxDB, MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL
  • Support for Novell Netware, VMS etc.
  • Systems also for dissimilar hardware
  • SEP CAPS (Cloud App Protection Service): Microsoft 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Dynamics 365, ownCloud
Supported task types

SEP sesam supports heterogeneous computing environments (Windows, UNIX, VMS or NetWare) and provides preset task types, such as common file system backup (type Path), Exchange, MySQL, SAP HANA, etc., as well as task types for virtual environments that enable image-level backups and single-file restore (SFR).

Backup features
  • SEP sesam operations, such as backup and restore, can only be performed by users who have the appropriate permissions. Only a user with Superuser privileges can configure authentication.
  • Backup to tape, disk and cloud storage to implement the best possible backup strategy for your environment.
  • To simplify backup of multiple VMs, you can automate the backup process by automatically generating tasks for VMs and creating clients for VMs.

Backup levels

A backup chain (the full backup and all subsequent incremental backups) is treated by retention management as if it were a single backup. Note, however, that there is currently no limit to backup chains in SEP sesam. Since long backup chains are inefficient and more vulnerable if something goes wrong because the backups in the chain depend on each other, and because they can simply become too long to restore (no more storage available, takes too long), SEP AG strongly recommends setting up regular FULL backups to avoid such problems, and setting the limit to up to 100 incremental backups.

SEP sesam provides four different backup levels: full, differential, incremental and copy. The backup level is specified when creating a backup event in the Main Selection -> Scheduling -> Schedules -> New Backup Event.

The following backup levels are available:

A FULL backup always copies all data specified by the backup task, regardless of whether it has been changed or not. A saveset created as FULL is the basic saveset for subsequent DIFF or INCR savesets. While the backup time of a full backup can be significant, restore is fast and simple since only one backup saveset is required. Information about the backup status is stored in the SEP sesam database. Note that the archive bits are not deleted on Windows systems. If you want to force-reset of the archive bits, you can enter the command -o clear_archive in the backup options.

A DIFF (differential) backup saves only data which was created or changed after the last FULL saveset had been created (of the same task). A differential backup is faster than a full backup, however, to restore the whole data source, first the saveset of the full backup has to be restored followed by restore of the DIFF saveset. For this, SEP sesam provides generation restore that enables browsing for and selecting for restore all generations of backed up files since the last full backup.

An INCR (incremental) backup saves only data which was created or changed after the last backup (FULL, DIFF or INCR) of the same task. This is the fastest backup method and requires the least storage space. Restoring from incremental backups is the slowest, because it requires all related savesets to be copied back – the saveset of the last full backup as well as all INC backups. You should consider the advantages of time and resources when planning your backup strategy. A combination of FULL backups stored to tape drives, and DIFF or INC backups stored to virtual disk media is a common method.

A COPY backup is a full backup that has no influence on following differential (DIFF) or incremental (INCR) backups. For the treatment of archive bits, see FULL backup above. COPY backup is usually used for additional full backups, e.g., monthly backups, or backups for archiving, i.e. removal from storage.

In case no initial FULL backup exists, differential (DIFF) or incremental (INCR) backups are automatically performed as FULL backups.

Backup procedure

The standard backup procedure applies to file systems and application data and may differ from the backup procedures for SEP sesam extensions, which might involve additional tasks or include other options. As special methods are used to back up such data, make sure to use the backup procedure specific to the data you want to back up. For details on the supported extensions, their features and backup procedures, see SEP sesam Extensions and the SEP sesam OS and Database Support Matrix.

The standard backup procedure involves the following steps:

  1. Creating a backup task by selecting the data to be backed up
  2. Creating a backup schedule by specifying when you want to back up your data
  3. Creating a backup event by selecting where and how to back up your data

For details, see Standard Backup Procedure.

Automated backup

SEP sesam introduces a powerful scheduling service called SEPuler that constantly checks for backup, restore and other predefined tasks scheduled for execution. When such tasks are found, SEPuler initiates the execution of the event. To prevent possible task conflicts and efficiently manage the tasks in the execution queue, SEP sesam uses event priorities.

Backups can be scheduled for automatic execution or started manually. For more information, see Creating a Schedule and Creating a Custom Calendar.

Backing up multiple VMs can be simplified by automating the backup process. This means that tasks can be created automatically for VMs associated to the same host. It is also possible to automatically create clients for VMs to which the generated tasks and ACLs can be assigned. For more information, see Automating the Backup Process.

Parallel backups

The SEP sesam multi-streaming technology enables extremely fast, simultaneous backups from multiple data sources on one drive. This is called Sesam Multiplex Stream (SMS).

The data from the different streams is split into packets, each packet is given an identifier and copied to the backup media. The data of a certain stream is not contiguously positioned on the media, but interrupted by packets of other streams. The identification marker of the packets enables SMS to restore the initial stream during reading.

SMS is able to split savesets across several media that still have some free space left (indicated by the media properties parameter EOM – End of Media).

The maximum number of parallel streams that can be used during the backup to the backup drive is set in the Drive properties by the parameter Max. channels (see Drives). The number of available data streams depends on the type of Server license, e.g., ONE provides 1 backup stream, etc. See Licensing for more details.


SEP sesam provides data encryption types on different levels:

Backup with VSS on Windows

Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is a Windows service for backing up running applications. VSS coordinates with other VSS-aware applications and services to create a shadow copy or snapshot of data for backup purposes. VSS uses a copy-on-write snapshot and allocates a small amount of temporary space to it. Once the snapshot is completed, the temporary storage space is released.

Backup with VSS is enabled by default for the file system task type Path. All other task types, e.g., System state, already use the required VSS Writer by default. However, a specific Writer can be manually excluded from the backup if it is not needed for the current backup task (e.g., exclude a Hyper-V Writer because there is another task dedicated to backing up a Hyper-V system). For more details on SEP sesam VSS, see SEP sesam Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) for Windows.

NDMP backup

SEP sesam enables you to protect and manage your storage file servers by providing support for Network Data Management Protocol. NDMP is a common protocol for backing up and restoring data on storage devices that do not support the installation of a backup agent. It ensures interoperability between NAS file servers and SEP sesam, and is used as an interface that enables SEP sesam to back up different NAS appliances and copy this data to a SEP sesam Server or Remote Device Server (RDS). SEP sesam supports version 4 of the NDMP protocol.

For details, see NDMP Backup. For a list of supported NAS appliances, see the support matrix.

HSM-aware backup for Windows

Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) is a method for reducing data storage costs and facilitating data management tasks. HSM-aware backup for Windows is an integral part of the SEP sesam package. It provides efficient backup of data on Windows systems that is managed by HSM. SEP sesam as an HSM-aware solution recognises the reparse tags in stub files and does not trigger a recall of the original files, but performs a backup of the placeholder files without retrieving their contents. For more details, see HSM-aware Backup for Windows.

Support for NTFS Alternate Data Streams (ADS) for Windows

Alternate Data Streams (ADS) are backed up by default when backing up an NTFS file system. They are automatically restored to any ADS-aware system. ADS are backed up by default, but can be excluded from the backup via a special option in the backup task properties.

ADS are a unique data-hiding feature of NTFS file systems. A file in NTFS consists of the unnamed data stream where the data is actually contained and of alternate data streams that can store additional metadata. Applications may use ADS to store file attributes. For details, see Support for NTFS alternate data streams (ADS) for Windows.

Support for Linux sparse files

SEP sesam provides support for Linux sparse files to prevent running out of disk space during restore. For details on how SEP sesam handles sparse files and what options are available, see Support for Sparse Files.

SEP sesam Logical Volume Manager (LVM) for Linux

SEP sesam uses LVM (Logical Volume Manager) snapshots to perform consistent backups of open files on Linux distributions. LVM snapshots allow a frozen copy of the file system to be backed up without taking the "live" volume offline during the backup.

LVM snapshots only work with partitions created with LVM. For more details, see SEP sesam LVM for Linux.

See also

Backup (main page) – Follow-up EventsAutomatic Retention (EOL) ManagementAutomating Backup ProcessUsing Pre and Post ScriptsMonitoring and ReportingRestore (main page)

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