5 1 0:HCL Domino Server Backup

From SEPsesam

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


The Lotus Domino (previously Lotus Notes) corporate brand has been first acquired by IBM and then by HCL Technologies. The Lotus Domino product name is now HCL Domino server; however, SEP sesam documentation update (such as screenshots) to reflect these changes is being done in a phased manner, therefore HCL Domino may still appear under the name Lotus Notes, Lotus Domino or IBM Domino.

SEP sesam Client SBCLN is a program library for backing up HCL Domino (formerly IBM Domino) databases. You can easily perform FULL, COPY, INCR and DIFF backups. To perform HCL Domino database-level backups (DIFF and INCR backups), you have to enable Transaction Logging in Archive mode on the HCL Domino server. For details, see Enabling transaction logging in Archive mode.

Domino databases can also be backed up with circular logging or with disabled transaction logging. In these cases, only FULL or COPY backups of databases can be performed. When tools such as fixup or compact are used for databases, the database is assigned a new DBIID each time and the changes are automatically logged to the database. In this case, COPY backup is recommended to save your storage space. COPY backups also allow you to easily restore specific NFS files and restore a single file from a VM snapshot.

Note that either planning nor operating the HCL Domino tools (fixup, etc.) is part of SEP sesam.

For additional information on transaction logging and DBIID, see the official Domino documentation. This information is version specific. For example, you can find information on transaction logging in the IBM Domino 10.0.1 Administrator Help and HCL Domino 11 Documentation.

Note that the Domino API does not offer direct backup or restore options for single emails or documents. It is designed more like a relational database and is set up for disaster recovery. Single mail recovery is possible but requires a profound knowledge of HCL Domino administration. For details, see Restoring single mails.

Backup level

To be able to perform incremental online backups of databases, SEP sesam requires enabled transaction logging in archive mode for all Domino server partitions. Databases with disabled transaction logging cannot be backed up incrementally, only the full backup is possible.

All Lotus Notes databases use the same transaction log. This consist of smaller files called log extents that have the extension .txn. When a log extent has reached its full capacity, the Domino server marks it as available for archiving. As soon as it is backed up by SEP sesam (using an incremental backup of the transaction logs subclient), it is marked as archived and the Domino server can reuse it.

Note that SEP sesam only performs the role of notifying the Domino Server about the successful backup of transaction log when FULL or INCR backup is performed. SEP sesam does not archive the extents, it only calls the NSFDoneArchivingLog when a FULL or INCR backup is performed, so the Domino can internally mark the log extent as released and can reuse the file with a new name later on.

  • FULL: The Domino databases selected in the backup source are backed up completely. The source all means that all files in the Domino data root, which are identified as Domino files, are backed up by using the Domino API. Full backup includes database files and all backup-relevant transaction logs (TXN-files).
  • DIFF: DIFF saves all HCL Domino files that have been changed from the last FULL or DIFF backup.
  • In case of a NSF (Notes Storage Facility) file, the following will be checked:
    • All newly created NSF database files which have not been backed up yet.
    • NSF files with changed database DBIID, which has changed as a result of some Domino database maintenance activities, such as using fixup (e.g., automatic fixup of corrupt databases) or compact.
    • NSF files with modified file time; in this case, NSF files are checked for any changes since the last DIFF or FULL backup (-T {since} argument).
  • INCR: INCR saves all relevant transaction logs, all new HCL Domino files and HCL Domino files with new DBIID. You can specify only all as a backup source for incremental backups.
  • COPY: Same as a full backup, without consideration of the transaction logs.

How does a Domino online backup work

When performing an HCL Domino online backup, files with Domino relevant filename extensions (e.g., .nsf, .ntf, .dic, .box, .dsk, .id, etc.) are backed up over the Domino API at the operating time of the Domino Server.

notes.ini is not directly part of the HCL Domino (Notes) data files, however, it contains information and parameters about the Domino installation and configuration. SEP sesam online Domino backup tries to detect the location of notes.ini, first in the binary path of the Domino installation, then in the Domino data root. Once notes.ini is detected, it is backed up automatically with the Domino files. Otherwise a warning is issued in the backup protocol. In this case the administrator has to make sure that notes.ini is backed up with a path backup.

If a backup task with task type HCL Domino, backup level Full and backup source all is started, SEP sesam Client connects with the Domino API and requests a backup of all files relevant to HCL Domino. In previous SEP sesam versions, only the databases which were open were backed up with temporary copy (and applying recent changes), however with version 4.4.3 Beefalo all databases are backed up with temporary copy which may affect backup performance. Additionally, processing backups on Linux differs slightly from processing on Windows where two concurrent threads are introduced with version 4.4.3 Beefalo.

  • On Linux, Domino takes the first database, copies it to the temporary SEP sesam path (gv_rw_tmp in PATHES section in the sm.ini) to the file system and then checks if any transactions are still in queue. If they are, first the transactions are executed and then the database is backed up by SEP sesam Client. This way all HCL Domino (Notes) databases are transferred from Domino to the file system and backed up sequentially by SEP sesam Client. To perform a successful backup, make sure that the temporary storage space is at least as big as the largest Domino database.
  • On Windows, up to 10 database files are copied to the local storage by using two threads to process these databases. The first thread is responsible for making a local copy of the database file (e.g., .nsf file). At the same time, the second thread is transferring the data and then removing the temporary file. While the use of multiple concurrent threads is more efficient and results in faster processing, it also requires more free space to store all database copies locally. To prevent backup from failing, make sure that required free space is available in the temporary storage, by default gv_rw_tmp in <SESAM_VAR>/ini/sm.ini. If there is insufficient temporary space, change the path in sm.ini to a directory with sufficient space.
  • Tip
    Windows only

    In case there is not enough free space available in the temporary storage, you can reduce the amount of databases to be copied by specifying -a threads=<number_of_databases> in the New Backup Task -> Options tab -> Backup options field. For example, if you want that only 5 databases are used, specify -a threads=5


If your HCL Domino databases use DAOS, check backup considerations for DAOS in section DAOS backup.

When restoring over the Domino API, the database that is being restored travels the same way back. The database file is initially put into the temporary SEP sesam space in the file system by SEP sesam and then transferred to the Domino API.

Configuring HCL Domino backup

Create the backup tasks with HCL Domino task type to back up the HCL Domino databases.

If the Transaction Logging with the Archive mode is enabled, an incremental backup will back up the transaction log files, new HCL Domino files and HCL Domino files with new DBIID.


  1. From Main Selection -> Tasks -> By Clients, select HCL Domino client and click New Backup Task. The New Backup Task window opens.
  2. Specify the Source. You can either browse for the databases that you want to include in the backup or enter their names followed by a comma. Note that by browsing the source (not entering it manually), the task name is set automatically. You can enter the following patterns as a backup source:
    • all: You have to specify all as a backup source for full and incremental backup. Note that you will set the desired backup level later, when creating a backup event. For details, see Creating a Backup Event.

    • set directories: You can browse or enter specific directories that you want to back up. In our example, we will specify Domino file directory E:\notesdata for Windows and /srv/notesdata for Linux:
      • Enter the path manually to specify the directories that have to be backed up. In this case, all Domino relevant files and their subdirectories are backed up. Contrary to standard path backups of Linux clients, HCL Domino backups on Linux also follow the directories beyond file system boundaries and symbolic links.
        • Examples on Windows:
        •   a) E:/notesdata/mail
            b) E:/notesdata/mail1,E:/notesdata/help
        • Examples on Linux:
        •   a) /srv/notesdata/mail
            b) /srv/notesdata/mail1,/srv/notesdata/help
      • Backup with file pattern, e.g., all databases from the mail directory on Windows:
      •   E:/notesdata/mail/*.nsf

        or all templates from the help directory on Linux:

      • Backup of single files:
        • Example on Windows:
        •  E:/notesdata/mail/user1.nsf 
        • Example on Linux:
        •  /srv/notesdata/mail/user1.nsf

  3. Optionally, specify the files or patterns which you do not want to back up in the Exclude list field. Depending on your operating system, proceed as follows:
  4. Exclude list on Windows On Windows, specify the exclude list using a slash (/) as path delimiter, a backslash (\) is not supported. For example, if you want to exclude Domino mail from the backup, enter E:/DominoData/mail in the Exclude list field.
    Exclude list on Linux/Unix On Linux/Unix, specify the exclude list with the preceding backslash and a dot, e.g., \./srv/notesdata/help$'.
    In older SEP sesam versions <, the exclude list that is defined on Linux/Unix for the HCL Domino backup task, does not work if specified with \.. In this case, specify the exclude list without the preceding backslash and a dot, e.g., use /srv/notesdata/help$ instead of \./srv/notesdata/help$'.
    • Exclude list on Linux/Unix > v.

    • Exclude list on Linux/Unix < v.

    For details on various exclude options, see Creating Exclude List.

  5. Click OK to create the task.
  6. If you want to start the newly created task immediately, right-click the name of the task and click Immediate Start. Otherwise, you have to schedule the task by clicking New Schedule under Main Selection -> Scheduling -> Schedules. For details, see Creating a Schedule.
  7. Once you have configured a schedule, you need to create a new backup event for it (Scheduling -> Schedules -> New Backup Event) and select the relevant backup level (FULL, COPY, INCR or DIFF), see Creating a Backup Event. To perform DIFF and INCR backups, transaction logging must be enabled in Archive Mode on the HCL Domino server, as described in the Backup Level section. If you use tools such as fixup or compact for databases, COPY backup is recommended to save your storage space.
You have to run a full database backup after the failure of an incremental job or if an incremental backup is corrupted or deleted, because this will break your backup chain. You need to start a new chain by performing a full backup.

Configuring access rights to the HCL Domino server on Linux

By default, the values for the user that runs the Domino service on Linux and the path of notes.ini server can be stored in the section [ENVIRONMENT] in sm.ini on the SEP sesam Client.

If the Domino user is not notes or differs from the standard value, it is important that an authorized user with access rights to connect internally to the HCL Domino server is specified for every backup task that is designated to back up data on the respective HCL Domino server. To specify the user, enter it in the New Backup Task -> Options tab, in the Backup options field (for the backup) and Restore options field:

 -a USER={notes-user}

If notes.ini is not located in /local/notesdata, enter the location of the notes.ini file in the backup task properties -> Options tab, in both the Backup options and Restore options field:

 -a NOTESINI={complete path the notes.ini file}

For example:

 -a USER=nadmin -a NOTESINI=/srv/notesdata/notes.ini

You have to enter this information for every backup task that is designated to back up files on the respective Domino server with the task type HCL Domino.

DAOS backup

DAOS (Domino attachment and object service) was introduced in HCL Domino (previously IBM Domino) v. 8.5.0. It allows the mail attachments to be stored outside the NSF file in Notes Large Object (.NLO) files. By transferring the attachments to a file system in your server and allowing to preserve a single copy rather than multiple copies of the same attachment, it preserves disk space. This means that the NSF database is no longer self-contained, therefore an additional backup of the .NLO data is required. For more details on DAOS, see HCL documentation, e.g., IBM Lotus Domino Attachment and Object Service (DAOS) deployment guide.


  • DAOS must be activated for the databases on an HCL Domino server that use DAOS, and the consolidation must be enabled in the server document (DAOS tab).
  • Additionally, every Domino database must have the Use Domino Attachment and Object Service advanced database property selected.

Backup considerations

SEP sesam automatically backs up DAOS configuration files daos.cfg and daoscat.nsf by regular HCL Domino task type.

A separate backup is required to back up the NLO data. Consider the following for the .NLO backup:

  • If the DAOS path is set up under the Domino (Notes) data path (e.g., E:\notesdata\DAOS), all DAOS files (.NLO) are backed up together with the other Notes files.
  • If the DAOS repository is configured outside of Domino's data visibility, you have to create an additional path backup and select the DAOS data location as a backup source. For details on creating a regular path backup, see Standard Backup Procedure.
It is recommended that you set up a SEP sesam path backup to back up .NLO files in your DAOS repository regularly, e.g., together with FULL/DIFF/INCR HCL Domino backup task. For details on creating a regular path backup, see Standard Backup Procedure. You should back up all the NSF data before backing up the .NLO files to ensure that the referenced .NLO files exist.

For details on backup recommendations, see HCL articles Backing up servers that participate in attachment consolidation (DAOS) and DAOS Backup and Restore.

Backing up HCL Domino partitioned server

A Domino partitioned server is a Domino server where several Domino instances are running. All running instances use the same (shared) program files, but every instance has its own data path and notes.ini. From the network view, every Domino instance can run on a separate IP address; when they run on the same IP address, they can use different ports, depending on the Domino configuration. For further information on the installation and configuration of an HCL Domino partitioned server, see the relevant IBM (HCL) documentation.

To back up a Domino partitioned server environment, you have to create a backup task for each partition. SEP sesam backup references the notes.ini of the corresponding partition directly.


  1. From Main Selection -> Tasks -> By Clients, select HCL Domino client and click New Backup Task. The New Backup Task window opens.
  2. Enter the Task name, for example notus05_notes_DataA.
  3. From the Task type drop-down list, select HCL Domino.
  4. Specify all as the backup Source.
  5. Switch to the Options tab. In the Backup options field, enter the corresponding notes.ini, e.g.:
  6.  -a NOTESINI="D:\IBM Domino\Data A\notes.ini"

  7. Click OK to create the task.
  8. If you want to start the newly created task immediately, right-click the name of the task and click Immediate Start. Otherwise, you have to schedule the task by clicking New Schedule under Main Selection -> Scheduling -> Schedules. For details, see Creating a Schedule.
  9. Once you have configured a schedule, you must create a new backup event for it. For details, see Creating a Backup Event.

For every partition you want to back up, you have to set the client name where the Domino program is running. Even though every Domino partition has its own IP address and DNS name, the backup job will reference the native program host. In the example above, the Domino Server itself has the DNS name notus05 and the partitions have the names notus05a and notus05b, but you always reference the notus05.

Using HCL Domino dbbackup utility

SEP sesam provides the Domino backup utility dbbackup which allows to back up a database by storing the database copy into a file.

The following dbbackup arguments are displayed with the dbbackup usage:

$Id: dbbackup.c,v 1.11 2017/11/13 10:44:35 miraculix Exp $
Usage:  dbbackup  <database filename> <output filename>
Hint:   To specify an .ini file, add an argument preceded by the equal sign ('='), e.g., 

Monitoring backup

You can view the status of your backup jobs in the GUI (Monitoring -> Last Backup State or Job State -> Backups) or SEP sesam Web UI. The backup status overview provides detailed information about the last run of backup jobs, including task name, start and stop time of the last backup, backup level, data size, throughput, assigned media pool, etc.

Known issues

If you have problems with HCL Domino server, check the Troubleshooting Guide.

External references

See also

Standard Restore ProcedureHCL Domino Server ConfigurationHCL Domino Server Restore

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