We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Ideas on backing up exchange 2003

robjeeves
robjeeves asked
on
G'day experts

Up until now it's been possible to backup the entire exchange server (excluding the folders that MS specify when backing exchange up). The way I've been doing it is use NTBackup to backup the Information store to a file on the D Drive followed by a full Server backup which gets the C, D  & System state.  All in one go.  Due to the size of the IS this is not going to be possible in a few months looking at typical growth of the Store.

What do you recommend as a backup stradegy?  Is it possible/advisable for Example to backup the C, D & System state but NOT the IS backup on Firday. Then Monday - Thursday just backup the IS?  I'm thinking the logs protect against DB corruption until I perform another IS store backup on the Monday.

Is it possible to backup the logs on the Friday backup?  The Server is Windows 2003 so we are using Volume Shadown Copy.  Is this idvisable.  To be honest I've only started looking at this but would appreciate thoughts and links you think appropriate in redesigning/planning the backup.

Cheers

Rob
Comment
Watch Question

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Why won't it be possible?  What version of Exchange?  What backup hardware?  
Hey Rob,

You arent going to need most of the C and D drives in the event of a disaster.

For instance, you can get rid of the Windows Dir, as well as any temp or patch folders (for instance, I know I have at least 4 GB on all of my servers (Exchange CDs, Win CDs, Patches, Etc)

If you are going over that size, either find a way to reduce the store, or increase your backup drive size.

You could also have a look at this (which is what I do) -> http:Q_21977874.html

Hope that helps,

-red

Author

Commented:
Hi leew - Exchange 2003 (in thread title).  Currently use DDS4 drive to perform the backup.  Will backing up logs DIR on the Friday be ok? Thanks

Hi red. Thanks for link.  I will have a read over
Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
I'll ask again - What version of Exchange?  Enterprise?  Standard?  Enterprise has no limit on the information store so you could possibly have a database so huge it can't easily be backed up.  Standard has a max database size (with SP2+) of 75 GB, which will EASILY fit on most common backup mediums.

I think you're approaching this from the wrong angle.  When your data no longer fits on the backup medium, you don't find a way to shrink the amount of data or frequency of backups - you get a better, more appropriate backup solution - because no matter what you try to do, your data will almost certainly continue to grow.  Frankly, if you're using a 20/40GB DDS drive, I'd say, ditch it.  Or at least BEGIN migrating to a different backup platform.  DDS tape backups are ALMOST pointless unless you have regulartory requirements requiring you to keep backups for a long period of time.  You're much better off - economically and in terms of capacity - moving to a disk based solution - like three external USB drives rotated off site periodically.  A 500 GB drive will hold 7 complete backups of an information store that is Exchange Standard's max.  3 of them will hold 3 weeks worth - and if the information store is smaller, then obviously you can get more on each one.  Once one fills up, you format it and start over (or better still, delete half of the backups - the older half).

I touch on topics like this in my standard backup comment - that got so big, I turned it into a web page.  You might find some additional information from it useful:
http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/backup.asp

Author

Commented:
Hi leew. Didn't understand the question you was asking regarding Standard or Enterprise. I see many posts with people not specifying 5.5/2000/2003. Sorry

I like the idea of Tape backup rotated offsite.  I generally take the tapes home each night so there wouldn't be a problem unplugging the USB drive each night to take offiste? Thanks. If there are no issues I'll split the points down the middle with red as I like some suggestions in his thread also.

Cheers

Rob
If you do decide to use DISK based backups, be aware that they are more fragile than tapes and will require gentle handling.

Personally, I think the costs of an LTO Ultirum 200/400 drive make disk based backups less appealing - but it is an interesting theory, depending on your circumstances.  Personally, 3 weeks back isn't enough for me, especially when there is a real possibility that a failed drive means you lose 1/3 of your backups.

You could mix the solutions, backup IS to tape each night and full server backups to disk on a friday (or better yet, on a weekend)

As for points, I have answered your questions before and trust your judgement.

-red
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Here's a brief comparison of Exchange standard vs. Enterprise - the information store limit is why I asked in the first place.
http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/evaluation/editions.mspx

As for unplugging USB drives, I don't see (or experience) any problems with it - the one thing - which you can liken to telling the system to eject the tape, is that you should "properly" disconnect external USB storage devices with the little icon that typically resides in the system tray area by the clock, telling it to "stop" the USB drive so you can safely remove it.  Other than that, I've had no problems - I even have a script for my own backups that checks for a file to locate the drive letter of the backup drive and then uses NTBACKUP to backup everything on my servers to it (at my various clients).

Author

Commented:
Cheers guys.  As always very useful. I'll research more. Thanks. 50/50 split on points

Also leew - is this script available that checks for a file to locate the drive letter? I can make a new 500 question for this if need be.  Or is it not for EE points sale?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I guess you haven't worked with tape all that much red... I've share a good number of tapes break, damage when they are dropped, be sensitive to other issues such as tape drive firmware... Realistically, EVERYTHING should be handled with care.  But so far, in 2+ years using hard drives as backup media - and in my case, I'm not even using enclosures, I'm using devices such as the Firewire ComboDock from www.wiebetech.com - I've not had a single one fail on me.  I know from experience - drives do fail - and one day... probably sooner than later, a drive will fail on me.  but odds are strong it won't happen when I need it most.  

As for how far you go back, that's up to you.  You want to go back longer, go back longer.  As I said, s MAXIMUM INFOSTOR CAPACITY, you're looking at 3 weeks of full backups on 500 GB drives.  If the info store is half that, then you can go back 6+ weeks.  And that assumes backups every night.

Stick with tape if that's what you're comfortable with.  But in my experience and simply doing the math - it's more expensive in small environments that don't have regulatory requirements.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
As for the script, I'm planning on rewriting it.  I just reinstalled the server at one of my clients and, after reading an old article in Windows IT Pro (STRONGLY recommend getting a subscription to the magazine and web site), I intend to modify it.

The script simply checks for the existance of a "marker" file, called "backup.txt" with a series of if statements.

IF EXIST E:\BACKUP.TXT SET BackupDrive=E:
IF EXIST F:\BACKUP.TXT SET BackupDrive=F:
IF EXIST G:\BACKUP.TXT SET BackupDrive=G:
etc

Author

Commented:
Cool. Thanks for the script. Simpler than I thought.  Did you want a new question made for that or is that a freebie? Cheers leew
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Don't worry about a new question.
>>but odds are strong it won't happen when I need it most.

That isnt how the world works though :)

I am not going to get into who has worked longer with what, i dont care.  I have seen tapes die, but never has a single tape failure wiped out a third of my backups - conversely, i think the idea of backing up to an external drive does have merit, *I* just wouldnt use it as my primary backup - more as a supplement, as I do at the moment.

My only concerns with disk backups is that they are MORE fragile than tapes (which I agree can also be touch and go) and having more than 1 backup job on 1 backup media just doesnt sit well with me.
Thanks Rob!

-red

Author

Commented:
My pleasure. Always nice to get different views on a problem.
I totally agree, I am going to start working on integrating more supplementary disk based backups into some of my sites based soley on this thread.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I used to work in a LARGE environment... I've seen firmware issues ruin literrally dozens of tapes.  I've seen tapes snap in tape drives, making them impossible to recover (at least in any timely manner, data recovery service, maybe, but not today).  I've seen computers literally burst into flames (well, actually, it happened to the unix guy and destroyed a small disk array).  I've seen tapes dropped breaking plastic parts of the tape and redering it near useless.

I like hard drives because even if the enclosure fails, you can remove them from the enclosure and quickly get at the data.  Yes, if the heads go, you're out of luck - but the same thing could happen to tape drives.  

Overall, if you want a SAFE backup - you need to back it up twice to two different mediums.  Or use RAIT or even RAID on drives.  There are many ways to protect data... and one backup is never enough.  CRITICAL stuff should be backed up multiple times.  Indeed, for one of my clients, I have their Accounting and an Access database secure FTPd to my home systems every night - in addition to tape, in addition to a script based copy to another computer on the LAN, in addition to the fact that the data sits on a RAID 5 volume.  In many respects you can never have enough backups, BUT, the question is, how much money do you want to spend on backup.  There is a minimum ANYONE should be spending, but the maximum can vary from company to company.

If you're not comfortable with 3 drives, get 4.  Or 5.  Or 6.  It will still cost less than tape in MOST cases.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
And just for the record, I pretty much state this on the web page.... but I know I sound like I'm bashing tape.  BUT, for LARGE backups (when you start hitting the point that you can't fit two full backups onto the largest single drive available), AND for instances where you must LEGALLY retain backups for years, Tape DOES work out to be the most cost effective solution.  But otherwise, in the smaller, non-legally required archive situations, TAPE is more expensive with the cost of drives as low as it is.