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Don’t resent your log files!

Posted by Preston on 2009-10-21

There was a recent discussion on the NetWorker mailing list as to whether some additional logging information that appeared in 7.4.x was worthwhile or whether it was worthless to the point of getting in the way of an administrator.

So that everyone is across what I’m talking about, the messages that started in 7.4.x are along the lines of:

nsrim: Only one browsable Full exists for saveset X. Its browse period is equal to retention period.

So here’s my take on the discussion: log files aren’t to be resented.

I recognise there’s a point where log files become either useless or waste people’s time. However, there’s really only one time for this – when the exact same information is needlessly repeated. In the case of these log messages though, it’s not the exact same information needlessly repeated. It’s different information – it’s going to be about a different saveset each time.

What is the message about, you may be wondering? Well, I actually don’t 100% know for sure. My suspicion is that it’s a message introduced to deal with processing saveset retention following changes introduced for pool based retention policies. But it doesn’t matter.

One thing that will drive me nuts with just about any product is encountering an issue where there’s insufficient logs to actually work out what is going on. Obviously, there’s a fine line to walk – log too much and you waste space and potentially reveal too much about the IP of the package. However, don’t do enough and it becomes extremely challenging for the people doing support (or the people who write the patches (or the people who wrote the software)) to resolve an issue. I don’t believe that having accurate logs guarantees quickly resolving an issue, but they certainly help – and not having them certainly hinders.

So my point is – don’t resent your log files. The amount of space they generally take up in NetWorker is quite minimal (compared to say, the index region), and so you shouldn’t be concerned about space. Nor, I’ll insist, should you be concerned about how to go about stripping out messages you don’t need to review when scanning log files. Backup administrators of enterprise products in particular should be quite conversant with log analysis and text extraction.

If those extra logged entries allow me to quickly find something in a Knowledge Base, or similarly allows support to find something quickly in an engineering database, or allows a patch developer to isolate the section of code that causes the problem, or allows the core developer to target the section of code to write an enhancement, it’s fantastic, and well worth the extra few bytes here and there that occupy my filesystems.

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