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Including and excluding files on TSM.

Backing up a single directory

The simplest way is of course to run the dsmc command line client and point it to the directory in question, perhaps using cron or some other scheduler or event handler. The invocation would then be as simple as (on a Unix-based OS):

dsmc inc /var/lib/pg_data/psql_dumps/

But in case you would need a backup to run using the built-in dsmcad scheduler, perhaps for reporting reasons, it will default to all locally connected filesystems. Therefore, several steps of exclusions are needed in order to achieve single-dir backup like the above example.

Below is an example for Windows, where you first specify a single filesystem using the DOMAIN C: specifier in dsm.sys to say that out of all connected disks and filesystems that are found, take only C: into consideration.

Then follows an EXCLUDE to match all files in all possible subdirectories under C:, and lastly an INCLUDE-statement to add back files that does exist under Program Files\docgenerator\ on C:

EXCLUDE C:\...\*
INCLUDE "C:\Program Files\docgenerator\...\*"

The DOMAIN specifier only applies to invocations like dsmc inc where you do not specify any path, or when dsmcad starts backup on a schedule.

The default for DOMAIN is called ALL-LOCAL which means all local filesystems. You can specify it explicitly if you want, and add exclusion or inclusion rules to it as well.

The path suffixes \...\* (or /.../* on Unix-based systems) means match anything, at any directory level.

How includes interact

You should view it as if INCLUDE and EXCLUDE statements are parsed backwards, from the last line to the first, and acting on the first match.

In the above example, files matching the docgenerator directory will be considered for backups and the rule matching will stop since it matched an existing rule. The earlier rule that excludes all files will not cover the files in docgenerator, but all other files.

Also, the output when running a setup like the above will be backing up directory structures and names, but not files in them, so it might look like it is about to back up the whole disk, even though it is not.

Lastly, if you use EXCLUDE.DIR "/some/path" the backup client will NOT enter that directory at all, so you may not include files in that directory tree, the client skips everything covered by an EXCLUDE.DIR rule.

Combining includes and excludes that select whether to back up or not with includes and excludes for compression/encryption is a separate topic, explained here.

Handling common includes/excludes

The dsm.sys / dsm.opt files used by TSM clients can have a command to point include/exclude rules to a separate file.

INCLEXCL /opt/tivoli/tsm/client/ba/bin/dsm.inclexcl

Which might be a good way to handle local exclusions depending on the role of the computer, but still keeping the general options in dsm.sys / dsm.opt generic. It could also be used to give local admins permissions to edit include/exclude rules without being able to affect other TSM configuration entries.

The sum of all include/exclude rules

There are several sources of rules for what to exclude and include which come from different places. One of the sources are the above-mentioned local preferences in the config files.

Another is the client itself which, based on your operating system, knows which virtual filesystems (like /proc on linux) and files (pagefile.sys, hiberfile.sys on windows) should always be exempt from backups.

Lastly, the server policies might add rules. In our case we have primarily EXCLUDE.COMPRESS rules to not try to compress files which are already compressed like .zip, .jpg and so on.

We have no generic exclusions serverside for things like names of trashcan folders, Firefox caches, iTunes libraries, core files and so on. It is up to your organisation to select what is meant to go in backups and what isn't, especially across different operating systems, where one single filename might have vastly differing meanings.

You can ask any configured client about the sum of rules with dsmc query inclexcl which will list all applicable rules and at which place they originate from.

Other uses for include/excludes

Apart from specifying whether to include files to be backed up or not, the include statements can also be used to select management classes of files and directories, which in turn control retention times, i.e., for how long the backups will be kept. You might set a very short retention time on operating system files, but long retention times on personal document folders on the same machine.

On a configured node, you can run dsmc query mgmt to see available selections, returning something like this:

Domain Name               : ORGNAME_FILE_DEDUP
Activated Policy Set Name : STANDARD
Activation date/time      : 2015-05-15 15:55:55
Default Mgmt Class Name   : 30DAYS
Grace Period Backup Retn. : 3655 day(s)
Grace Period Archive Retn.: 3655 day(s)
MgmtClass Name            : 180DAYS
Description               : Files are saved for 180 days
MgmtClass Name            : 30DAYS
Description               : Files are saved 30 days

Where the names of the MgmtClass are what we are looking for ( 30DAYS and 180DAYS in that example list)

To set different retentions for OS files and personal files on a Unix-based machine, something like this can be set:


The next time you run the backup, the new expiration dates will be applied to the current (and future) version of the files, something the client will call rebinding, which means a new class gets set on each file covered by the new non-default retention policy.

For unknown reasons, rebinding does not work on files being Archived using dsmc archive ..., only on backups. In order to actually change MgmtClass on archive files, you need to pull them back with dsmc retrieve and then archive them again.

Virtual mount-points

An issue which may arise when using INCLUDE, EXCLUDE and EXCLUDE.DIR to back up single directories is that the set of rules may get rather long, inflexible, or have bad performance. Let us explain.

Without virtual mount-points

Take, for example, a scenario where we want to back up /var/local, but exclude everything else under /var. An option is to use:

EXCLUDE /var/.../*
INCLUDE /var/local/.../*

The problem is that this way, the client will scan all directories under /var (without backing them up). /var may be huge, but we are only interested in /var/local for backup. This is not good for performance.

Another strategy is to use EXCLUDE.DIR on every sibling of /var/local. EXCLUDE.DIR overrides all other rules and prevents the client from even processing the files under each specified directory.

* ....
EXCLUDE.DIR /var/lib
EXCLUDE.DIR /var/cache
EXCLUDE.DIR /var/log
* ....
INCLUDE /var/local/.../*

However, this is rather inflexible. Because every time a new directory or file is introduced under /var, a new rule must be added to dsm.sys.

Using EXCLUDE.DIR on /var and then including /var/local would not have worked, because EXCLUDE.DIR overrides INCLUDE specifiers regardless of order.

You can also not just write a one-liner DOMAIN /var/local, because (at least on most systems), /var/local is not a mount-point, and so cannot be used as an argument for DOMAIN.

With virtual mount-points

The above problem can be easily solved by declaring a virtual mount-point.

DOMAIN /var/local

Now, since /var/local is a (virtual) mount-point, it can be used with the DOMAIN specifier. The client will, using the above rules, ignore and not process anything on the system except for /var/local.

This is a more performant and flexible option to back up individual directories.