Contingency plan backup solution

Hello experts

We have a contingency plan within our company that syncs files with an external server.  However, we recently installed exchange 2003 and are trying to find a way to backup the exchange data on that external server daily so we can get back up and running as soon as possible in the event of a catastrophy.

I know we could setup an exchange cluster but that's not really a solution right now since we can't upgrade both operating systems or install exchange on the backup server.  I was thinking of just synching an ntbackup of exchange every day but that would create too much network traffic.

I'm just asking this to see if I can get any ideas.  Basically, minimize network traffic and no exchange on backup server.
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You have already went forward by identifying some of the possibilities and the pros and cons of the possibilities with a COOP plan.  It depends upon the catastrophe for which you are planning.  The downside is that the person at the remote site may not have the technical expertise to setup the services and get people back up and running.

If you did an NTBackup and copied over (ftp or whatever) the primary backup, say on the weekend, and then did an incremental and then copied it, you would have the primary database as well as the logs.  This will help to minimize the traffic, given the situation.  Granted, as your Exchange database grows, this may become unrealistic at some point down the road.

The other thing to remember is that you have to have an Active Directory domain controller, Exchange assigned to the Active Directory Site, the internal A records, the external MX record, A record, and PTR record in place for the remote resource.

You could look at a dialtone database to get your clients/users  back into e-mail and then use the recovery storage group to merge the data back in.

You could look at a "clustering"/HA solution that does log shipping, such as Neverfail for Exchange, and run it on a virtual machine (Microsoft Virtual Server and VMWare Server are both "free") on the backup server.  However, that does chew up some RAM and some processor time.  Dependent upon how it is configured (VM for the OS and binaries and physical disk for the database, queues, logs, etc.)

There is a lot of good information on Exchange Disaster Recovery in the Exchange library, but it does not specifically detail your goals.

...and then there is hosted Exchange from companies such as Mi8.  However, that is likely not what you or your organization desires.

inf2300Author Commented:
Competency to restore everything shouldn't be a problem since that would be me and I set it up in the first place (I don't work on location) :P

I didn't think that worked, but can you really do an incremental backup of exchange with ntbackup?  If so that would kinda solve the issue since I don't really care about traffic on the weekend.  Would an incremental restore back all the emails up to that day?
Yes, an incremental for Exchange would work and you can copy or FTP the .bkf file over to the other server.  Yes, you can restore the backup to the recovery storage group and you can restore the incrementals to the RSG.  I would, however, recommend that you test this in a lab once or twice as you will have to test the AD components, Exchange components, file access, network, etc.

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