Windows Removable Storage Services

Microsoft removed support for RSS/RSM with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. The information below will be retained as it could be of interest to anyone running older operating systems.
One issue is "How do I restore a file backed up using RSM on an older operating system, to a new system when I cannot start RSM?". The answer seems to be that you can't do this so you need to keep an older system around for these restores.

Removable Storage Management (RSM)


One of the issues with Open Systems storage is the lack of an operating system based method to manage tapes. This means that applications that use tapes have to develop their own tape management systems, which can be a considerable overhead, and makes it difficult to share tape libraries between applications.

Microsoft attempted to plug that gap with Removable Storage Management (RSM). RSM made it easy to manage near-line libraries, and the media contained in them.

Support and Compatibility

RSM requires NTFS version 5, which is supported from Windows 2000 up to, but not including, Windows 2008.

If RSM is installed, it can affect existing applications, as it takes exclusive control of all media changing robots. Any non-RSM aware applications that use these robots will stop working, and must be changed to use RSM, so you need to discuss RSM support with your third party vendors.

Media Pools

RSM uses 'Media Pools' to classify the storage. Every piece of removable storage must belong to a media pool. Each media pool holds a single type of media that has common management properties. Media pools can be

This means that you can define a very flexible hierarchy of pools to describe and manage your removable media.

There are two types of media pools, System and Application. The System pools are for data that does not belong to Applications. Every different media type has three system pools

free media pool
basically scratch pools to be used when an application needs an empty tape
unrecognized media pool
media which is not initialised, or which the system is unable to classify. You need to manually move this stuff to a free media pool
import media pools
media which has come from another RSM system. You need to either move this media the relevant free pool or application pool

Applications pools contain data currently required by applications. Each application will create pools for its own exclusive use. However, applications can share media pools, as application pools can be subsets of a media pool.

Managing RSM

You can manage Removable Storage with the management GUI, or from a command line. The Removable Media service must be active for the commands to work. The line commands are all prefixed with rsm, and include

RSM Hints and Tips

RSM problems

RSM has been known to stop responding to media requests, or your backup utility may be issuing error messages stating that it cannot connect to the Removable Storage service. If this happens, check out the obvious first, make sure that the RSM service is not disabled or stopped.
If you see the message 'the removable storage database failed to load. Check the event log' then that could mean the database is corrupt. Database recovery procedures are described below.

Before you start to recover your database, check out the DelayStart value in the registry. By default, the RSM service is delayed by 45 seconds to help boot performance. If you want to RSM to start up faster, you change that registry key.
Standard caution applies, you update the registry at your own risk, and if things go wrong, then worst case is that you need to reload the whole Windows operating system.
So if you are experienced at registry changes, change the DelayStart value in registry key HKEY-LOCAL-MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\NTMS. The value is in seconds.

RSM does not recognise device

If your application program does not recognise the removable device, then this is usually a physical problem with the device or maybe the cable that connects it. However if the device is recognised correctly by the Windows Device Manager then it is worth checking it out in the RSM database as this keeps a record of the device and media status. To check the RSM status,

Recovering the RSM database

In extremis it may be necessary to restore or rebuild the RSM database. Your backup programs are probably using RSM to manage the backup media, so this makes restoring RSM a bit tricky. The RSM database is located in the %SystemRoot%\System32\NtmsData folder. If you use Windows 2000 Backup to back up your %SystemRoot% folder then Backup automatically exports the RSM database to both the backup media itself and the %SystemRoot%\System32\NtmsData\Export folder. You can restore the RSM database from the export folder, but it is a manual process. If you backup the RSM database with a third party product then you need to create an empty database before you can start. For example, the TSM command to backup the RSM database is backup RSM. This exports the database to \windows\system32\ntmsdata\export then copies if off to the TSM server. If you don't have a backup, then you can rebuild RSM from scratch. This means that you have three recovery scenarios

For all three scenarios,

Windows backup -

Third party backup -

No backup -

Removable Storage System (RSS)

RSS is an HSM (hierarchical storage management) application that uses RMS for external media management. It migrates data from expensive disk to cheaper tape if it has not been looked at for a while then transparently recalls it back again if it is needed. Microsoft have also enhanced the user interface side of the Windows 2000 operating system. RSS provides the following features

Restoring the RSS database

Try the following actions to recover the RSS database. This process assumes that you have a good backup, and that RSM is working correctly

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