Backup Exec and Microsoft Tape Format

In 1996 Conner was merged with Arcada (a Conner subsidiary) to form Seagate Software when they were acquired by Seagate Technology. A new tape backup format specification was developed called the Microsoft Tape Format (MTF) used in all releases of Backup Exec subsequent to 1998. Microsoft also made use of MTF in Windows NT for NTBackup and subsequent versions of Windows backup software.

The Microsoft Tape Format is also used in Windows BKF files and the BackupAssist utility. The design of the Microsoft Tape Format was formulated to allow the easy interchange of information between different computing platforms. The ability to ignore OS specific data incompatible with the target file system such as Apple data forks was an important aspect of the design. Data recovery and data conversion are often required from tape data cartridges using the Microsoft Tape Format.

History Backup of Exec

MaynStream software was developed in 1982 by Maynard Electronics, which was acquired by the Archive Corp in 1989. Versions of MaynStream were developed for the DOS, Windows, Macintosh, OS/2 and NetWare operating systems. Conner Peripherals acquired Archive Corp in 1993, at which time the software was rebranded as Backup Exec. MaynStream used a proprietary backup format up until Seagate Software was created.

Seagate Backup Exec was marketed in 1998 following the development of the Microsoft Tape Format. In 1999 VERITAS Software acquired Seagate Software before being subsequently acquired by Symantec in 2005, the current owner and developer of Backup Exec. Since it was first developed the format has been expanded such as allowing locked files and databases still being used and updated to be backed up, which is achieved by installing the appropriate backup agent modules.

Microsoft Tape Format (MTF)

The MTF specification document was most recently published released in 1998. Since then many additional developments have been made, specifically for the backup of databases, which have not been documented and proprietary in nature.

Microsoft’s NtBackup and later versions of Windows Backup use MTF which can be restored using Backup Exec. However the reverse is true for simple file backups made using Backup Exec. However any backups made using an agent module with Backup Exec is incompatible with the Windows Backup software.

Backup Exec and Data Recovery

A wide variety of tape media can be used with Backup Exec and Windows Backup. Although the last published specification was in 1998, any additions to the format conformed to the same basic formatting, which allows the extraction of files during data recovery to be a fairly simple process.

There are many typical reasons for requiring data recovery for a backup used the MTF based format are due to a physical media problem or a logical software issue. These can range from a snapped tape, user error through reinitialising or overwriting media, or a logical data issue, which the backup software is unable to handle. DiskEng have vast experience of dealing with such issues, from which data can be extracted and returned.

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