Exchange FAilover SErver possible?

Janice1967
Janice1967 used Ask the Experts™
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I have 2 Exchange Servers 5.5 on NT 4.0 machines, I only have 8 outlook clients, small network.  One Exchange server is installed on PDC and one is installed on BDC. My outlook users are currently using Exchange on PDC for there mail, etc.  I want to use Exchange on BDC as a failover server in case PDC fails.  I would like Exchange on BDC to take over and users still be able to receive and send mail.  This does not have to happen automatically. Can't afford clustering.  Actually, do not want to spend any money on 3rd party solutions like Co-standby server or octopus.  Want a solution that is free.  If it takes awhile to get BDC exchange server working thats ok.  The Exchange server on BDC was joined to the PDC Exchange servers site when I installed it.  so they are both in same site and org.  Can anyone suggest any solutions to this and how it could be done.  

Is there a way to replicate priv.edb to backup server every so often.  Since they are both in the same site does that mean mailboxes will be replicated to new server or do I need to create same mailboxes on failover server.
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What you are trying to do is impossible without clustering. The best you could do is setup a second IMS on the second server and add a seconday MX record which points to it. This would allow you to continue to receive and queue email if one server went down, but users would not have access to their mailboxes. You could move half your users to the second server so a least half your users would have mailbox access in the event a server fails.

Author

Commented:
I am not using Internet Mail SErver, I am using corporate workgroup.  Does this matter?

If I install this second Exchange server, when I install it should I joing the existing site on my first exchange server or should I create a new site?

DO I add these MX records in DNS Service.  Not sure how to do that. Will have to check that out. We use Checkpoint MEtaip for our DNS and DHCP services.

Author

Commented:
I am not using Internet Mail SErver, I am using corporate workgroup.  Does this matter?

If I install this second Exchange server, when I install it should I joing the existing site on my first exchange server or should I create a new site?

DO I add these MX records in DNS Service.  Not sure how to do that. Will have to check that out. We use Checkpoint MEtaip for our DNS and DHCP services.
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Commented:
If you're not using Internet Mail then forget the MX records. All you can do is follow Jimck's plan and move half the mailboxes to the new server. To do this you WILL need to setup the server within the existing site.

I must admit, I'd concentrate on making your exchange server more fault tolerant. You should always install exchange on a RAID5 system ideally, on a server with a decent hardware onsite warranty (4 hour response) Then you're pretty much covered.

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the info.  one question is if I join the exchange server to existing site, why can't both sites have same mailboxes?  
Also, at the client would I have to reconfigure them to point to new server if the primary goes down.  If I do this is there an easier way to do this, without having to login with each username and configure outlook to point to backup server.  
Both sites can't have the same mailboxes because the mailbox can only exist on one server at a time.

If the primary goes down and UserA has their mailbox on that server, you wouldn't reconfigure them to point to the new server. They would be dowm until the server is back up because their mailbox was homed on that server. The only advantage to splitting your users between servers is that is a server failed only half of them would be down.

By the sounds of things what you want is clustering. It is the ONLY way to do what you are looking for.
David WilhoitSenior Consultant, Exchange

Commented:
As far as fault tolerant goes, RAID 5 won't save your exchange databases, will only make it easier to get the hardwqare running again. You'd still need to do a full restore if one of teh RAID 5 drives crashes.
Kidego - that is plain wrong. The whole point of RAID 5 is that if one disk fails the array can be rebuilt by simply replacing the failed disk.
David WilhoitSenior Consultant, Exchange

Commented:
Nope, try it sometime. Once the drive fails, and it usually fails slowly, the database will get -1018 errors in teh applog. once that begins, you have to do a restore, plain and simple.

Commented:
I have had multiple drives fail over the years in RAID5 systems on which I've had Exchange databases. I've never had any problem at all, this is afterall the whole point of RAID5. The server will remain running and if you're fortunate enough to have hot plug drives you don't even need to down the thing. The point is, that there's enough data on the remaining drives to rebuild the required info on a brand new drive.
David WilhoitSenior Consultant, Exchange

Commented:
you're luckier than any of my former customers. Every time a RAID drive containing a database fails, it bumped the store offline. Yes, they were able to rebuild the drives, but not restart the IS, because the database was inconsistent. RAID 5 rebuilds are notorious for not rebuilding the logfiles back the way they were before.

Also, drives die slowly over a period of time, at least a couple of days. Rarely do they just stop. you may notice tons of errors in the applog or syslog, ESE errors, which are read/write errors. These read/write failures cause problems inside the database, so at the very least, after all this, the database should be cleaned up by a defrag, or isinteg -fix. I've always found a restore to be better.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I've done easily over 150 disaster recoveries, and RAID 5 never saved anyone. but if it worked for you, that's awesome.
I have performed multiple disaster recoveries on RAID 5 systems as well - not 150, wow that's a lot of failed servers - and I have never had a problem recovering from a failed disk on a RAID 5 system. All the systems I have worked on though were using hardware based RAID.
David WilhoitSenior Consultant, Exchange

Commented:
I had so many cause I worked at PSS for Microsoft :). Anyway, just as a side note, did you ever see any of the -1018 errors, or the ESE read/write failures in teh applog? Never did a DR that I didn't find one or the other somewhere in the event viewer. Oh yea, you can email me directly, since we seem to be having a philosophical discussion not related here.
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