We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Exchange Server Backup Planning

Nirmit79
Nirmit79 asked
on
Hi, I work for a small company (about 25 users). To give you a better idea let me explain you my Infrastructure and Needs.

 We currently have 1 Main server (DC) running Windows SBS 2k3.  I am in the process of buying a Dedicated Mail server for Exchange 2003 that will rund on 2k3 Enterprise.  WE would have around 15  Mailbox of around 20Mbs and 4 common  Mailbox(through Public Folder) of around 2GB. Since we are a lawfirm,  lot of PDF attachments are sent from and to the banks Also we would implement OWA & Group Calendar Facilities.  Now my question is

1) Would 2gb of Ram, 3ghz Intel Dual Core Processor and 80GB of Space be enough?
2) I know in Exchange it is strongly recommended that OS, Database, Transition Logs, SMTP Ques all get placed on separate drives. But is that true for A Small Size company like mine too? Can you suggest me how I shuold divided them up and how many drives would I need ?
3) I am Debating Between Baracudda Anti Spam Firewall and Symentac Anitspam Software.  As the price difference is vast and being a small company would like to stay under a budget but at the same time not compromise with the quality. Can you please advise what would be a good solution for our business structure.  
4) RAID : Can you please tell me at a best practice how many different RAID would i need.  For exam,ple Would i need RAID 5 jut for the Database and another RAID 5 or RAID 1 for Transition Log? The idea is to avoid unessesary RAID if possible..
5) I intend to get an Quantam Tape Autoloader for daily backup of both the Main Server and the Exchange Server.  Would that be considered a good backup plan?
Comment
Watch Question

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

Commented:
Hi Nirmit79,

A few questions - I may not be understanding EXACTLY what you're planning or why.

Are you planning on separating Exchange from the SBS Server?  You can't do that.  the SBS server MUST run Exchange.  That's how it was designed.  Or were you going to add another server to run a SECOND install of Exchange.  In which case... WHY?  You have 25 users.  A single server will handle that load JUST FINE.  

> 1) Would 2gb of Ram, 3ghz Intel Dual Core Processor and 80GB of Space be enough?

RAM: More than enough (for your described usage, I'd probably get 1 GB and if money was an issue, 512 MB of RAM (with budget in reserve if that proved too little).
CPU: More than enough (A minimal processor should work fine.  I had Exchange 5.5 handling 400 Mailboxes on a Pentium 500 MHz - 15-25 mailboxes on 2003 with a minimal CPU should be more than sufficient).
HD:  For Exchange Standard, this would be what I would call MINIMUM.  I'd probably go with 120 GB drives.  If this were Exchange Enterprise, then I'd go with MUCH larger drives.

> 2) I know in Exchange it is strongly recommended that OS, Database,
> Transition Logs, SMTP Ques all get placed on separate drives. But is
> that true for A Small Size company like mine too? Can you suggest me
> how I shuold divided them up and how many drives would I need ?

In a small organization, that's not nearly so vital for performance.  However, for redundancy (to protect against disk failure), I would recommend 4 drives:

Disk 1 & 2 - RAID 1 - OS, Database, SMTP Queues
Disk 3 & 4 - RAID 1 - Transaction logs

> 3) I am Debating Between Baracudda Anti Spam Firewall and Symentac Anitspam
> Software.  As the price difference is vast and being a small company
> would like to stay under a budget but at the same time not compromise
> with the quality. Can you please advise what would be a good solution
> for our business structure.  

I've seen baracuda devices and I like them.  I especially like the digest feature listing all blocked e-mail and allowing easy retrieval of inappropriately blocked email.  Other products you can consider is the built-in Exchange AntiSpam - IMF  - the Intelligent Message Filter.  And GFI Mail Essentials.

http://www.gfi.com/
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/downloads/2003/imf/default.mspx

> 4) RAID : Can you please tell me at a best
> practice how many different RAID would i need.  For exam,ple Would i
> need RAID 5 jut for the Database and another RAID 5 or RAID 1 for
> Transition Log? The idea is to avoid unessesary RAID if possible..

See above.  RAID 10 would be better performance, but for such a small organization, I wouldn't be worried about it.

> 5) I intend to get an Quantam Tape Autoloader for daily backup of both
> the Main Server and the Exchange Server.  Would that be considered a
> good backup plan?

It would work... but it would be, most likely, unnecessarily expensive.  Reference my article on Backups and Disaster Recovery.
http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/backup.asp

Cheers!
Hi Nirmit79,

Without repeating too much of what has already been said;

1) Fine except for hard drives - Lower the CPU and/or ram a little and invest in bigger, or better yet, more disks
2) Based on 4 disks, and the assumption that you have good RAID hardware, Disks 1,2,3 - RAID5, OS, Databases, Pagefile, Disk 4, transaction logs (ideally, a 5th drive would make this RAID1)
3) Whatever you do, don't buy Symantec anti-spam, it is rubbish.  I have heard good things about the barracuda units, but am a massive fan of GFI software - which Lee has linked to already
4) RAID is totally dependant on your hardware, particularly your number of disks - if you want speed without redundancy - that is RAID0, redundancy without speed - RAID1, Great redundancy and a speed increase - RAID5, the big expensive (yet fantastic) RAID10, or my favourite, HP's propriety RAID6 (ADG) which is "apparently" RAID5+1
5) I am aware of Lee's position on backups, and this is where we will differ.  I recommend that you buy a good tape backup drive (like an LTO ultrium) with enough space to get DOUBLE everything in one go, that should give you some room to grow.  Add to this, you should get a few external USB drives and use this as a rapid restore, or Exmerge Brick Level Backup alternative.  Considering you are a lawfirm, you will probably need the archiving qualities of a tape

Hope that helps,

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

Commented:
Hey, if archiving is needed, then tape is fine!  

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

Commented:
Though let me concur with red on Symantec - The only product I recommend* that they make is BackupExec.  (and since they bought veritas, it's now a recommended with an asterisk).  From what I've seen of their products, from Anti-virus to disk imaging and just about everything in between, they buy the product line and screw it up REALLY bad.  Veritas was a relatively new acquisition and I'll cross fingers because it was pretty good BEFORE they bought it)  I might (based on other's reports) include LiveState as a good product - with the asterisk (they didn't develop that either, they bought the company).

In short, Veritas, GREAT at marketing, HORRIBLE at producing.

Author

Commented:
Hi Guys,

Thanks for your response.  
Here's exactly what i was planning to do.  We only have 1 server at this moment which runs SBS 2k3.  I had installed Exchange Server on that.  Now I want the Exchange Server to be on a separate Machine.  So I was planning to Remove Exchange from SBS and Have it installed on the 2nd server(member server) That would be running on 2k3.  

From what i understand, you are saying that I would have to install Exchange on the new server Using SBS 2k3 instead of 2K3 Enterprise? And would I able to remove the Exchange Server from the Main Server? Please clarify and also give me suggestion on How I Should go about it.


I don't like any backup software any more - now that brick level backups are pointless with Exchange 2003 (and finally out of my system) I don't use anything but; NTBACKUP, Robocopy, and if I have the time/space, Exmerge.

I always hated ArcServe, and loved Backup Exec - and now, 4 years later, they are all rubbish

-red
If you want to seperate the SBS components, you will need a transition pack - if you don't really want to go that far, you will want to do an SBS migration to the new server.

One costs money, one costs only time (hardware exclusive) so what are you wanting to do?

-red
Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
I'll ask again, WHY do you want Exchange on a separate system?

Be aware, your network can only have ONE SBS server.  You can have other servers, but only ONE SBS server to a domain.

@red - I liked ArcServe - wish I still had it.  I especially like how restores were handled.  Switched to BE after ArcServe became slow as sneakernet in backups... though it later turned out to be a driver issue on the controller.

Mind you, I don't go nuts recommending BE or ArcServe - but if you WANT to spend the money, then those are the ones I go with.

Author

Commented:
How Would I migrate the existing Exchange to the New Server.  Is there a guideline or Steps you can provide me? Also Would I need to install SBS 2k3 on the new server or can i install 2k3 Enterprise?

Author

Commented:
@Leew - I would like to instand Exchange on a new system keeping future growth in mind and avoiding load on the main server.  We grew from team of 3 employess to 28 in 2 yrs and we are still a growing business. So I was thinking from that point of view.  

Well, I only intend to keep SBS 2k3 server on the Main DC and have 2k3 Ent run as a (2nd Server) Member Server for Exchange.  I can do that right? Also,  I am getting very mixed suggestion on the Backup software.  Should I use BackupExec or should I avoid it..  
You can do that, but you would probably be far better off with a transition pack to split SBS and get all the "full fat" versions (Exchange, Windows, etc)

The problem with adding a new Exchange server, while it would work, would basically mean you have 2 exchange licenses and you are only using one.  If you are growing at such a rapid rate, splitting SBS up may be a good idea before you reach the 75 user limit,

-red

Author

Commented:
How would  I migrate my existing exchange to the new Server and  where would I get Transition Back from?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I think you're making a costly mistake.

The maximum number of users you can have on an SBS server is 75.  Once you hit that limit, you need to get the Transition Pack to remove the SBS limitations.  Frankly, most people would recommend getting the transition pack when you hit 60-65 users, just so you don't get hung up when you do hit 75.

DO NOT add another exchange server.  SBS - if you're using appropriate hardware - can EASILY handle 75 users, with Exchange running on the same system.  How much RAM do you have?  What kind of CPU(s)?  How much disk space?  I would spend the money upgrading the existing server before I went out and bought another system for Exchange.

The licensing cost and management costs don't make sense to me for such a small business.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Once you have the transition pack (which is costly) then you can get additional servers and split off things like Exchange.  Ultimately, you should be working to balance out services on the various servers, but it really sounds to me like you're overly concerned.  Like your worried about the rain filling up your boat and making it sink in otherwise calm seas.

Author

Commented:
@Leew - I forgot to ask you this point.  You had mentioned that 4 Drives should be enough having 2 RAID 1.  I'm about to buy a server online (HP ProLiant ML150 G3 Server series).  Do I need a Storage controller? I know there's hardware RAID and Software RAID.  If I intend to do Software RAID would I need a Storage Controller? If yes, How many would I need?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I'm not very familiar with HP systems, so I'm not 100% certain about what you'd need.  Based on my experience with Dell systems, if you do a hardware RAID, you would need one controller and that one controller could easily contain both RAID containers.  Software RAID is ok - but hardware RAID is really a much better solution, performance wise.

Author

Commented:
@Leew - I understand what you are saying.  And you do make sense but To be honest, The company had already bought Exchange Enterprise License (few months back)  , and 2k3 License.  Again, at that point they were going to take out SBS and Replace it with 2k3 Enterprise but that never happened and now we are stuck with that license.  They want to keep the SBS 2k3.  And I thought by utilizing that license for dedicated Exchange server, I could have some space for future growth and also can have an option of installing SQL and Web application the Main Server..
If you are doing software RAID you will not need a RAID controller - but don't use a software RAID.

You can get a decent RAID controller for a couple of hundred dollars, and it is well worth it.

-red
If you already own the licensing for Exchange, and the company is happy to keep it (or can't return it) then there is no problems moving it over.  Cost was the only major factor.

Although, I would be VERY inclined to ditch SBS altogether, you will always be limited by it, irrespective of what other servers you have in your domain

-red

Author

Commented:
@Red -  I agree with you 100%.  SBS so many limitations (on Grouppolicy, Terminal server etc) ..I have suggested them to switch but they do not want the risk of having migration problem.  Since I work at the Law Firm, They have vital information stored on the main server and have to access applications from the server.  They can't afford to have the server down for more than a day (Sunday).  

Author

Commented:
@Red- Let me ask you this..Just in case I do have an option of upgrading from SBS to 2k3..Is there a way that all my Secruity Configurations, Group Policies,  Softwares that are configured into the SBS server be backup up and be swithed over to the  Enterprise Version, I can.  Would Notorn Ghost be able to do such kind of stuff
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
You can't transfer services like that.  If you want to get rid of SBS, you buy the Transition pack for the easiest conversion - or you have several other options that are less than ideal.

I may be being too cautious - but I used to work in an Enterprise environment.  I then moved to working on SBS systems for small clients.  I've learned to be cautious about how I manage an SBS network and I would not break off exchange from SBS (you can do it, but I wouldn't).  Instead, you mentioned SQL, either upgrade to SBS Premium, which includes SQL and ISA server - or maek the second server the SQL server.

And there's no one saying you can't eventually use the Exchange license - or recoup the money (or at least most of it) and sell it on e-bay.

I may be being too cautious, but SBS wants to be managed in a very specific manner and I really recommend avoiding messing with that.
>>I may be being too cautious, but SBS wants to be managed in a very specific manner and I really recommend avoiding messing with that.

You are being cautious, but I would not say you are TOO cautious.

While this isn't really what SBS wants to do (Farming off exchange to a different server), it is technically possible, but if your employers are reliabilit conscious, there is no way I would do it.

Your best bet would be to make the migration - if your superiors are REALLY worried about it, pay a migration pro to come and do it for you, a migration pro will be insured, should the worst come to the worst (and they will know how to get you back from the depths anyway)

-red

Author

Commented:
Hi Guys, Thanks for all the helpful tips.  Just so we are on the same page.  You both suggest that I should keep the Exchange on the SBS server (Main Server) and have another Exchange Installed on the 2nd server that would be running 2k3? Basically avoid Removing Exchange from the SBS server.  IN that case would the Maibox data and otherstuff be saved into the First Server or the 2nd Server.  Since 1st Server Does not have 4additional drives in the system..I would like to have it saved into the 2nd one.. Can you tell me how i would configure..
>>You both suggest that I should keep the Exchange on the SBS server (Main Server) and have another Exchange Installed on the 2nd server that would be running 2k3?

Neither of us are saying that (right Lee?)

The consensus here seems to be that you should buy the transition pack and move away from SBS entirely - assuming you want to split of Exchange, you should do it properly.

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

Commented:
I suggest you don't need a second exchange server.

I suggest with a small user base like that, you increase the server's hardware - install more disk space, more RAM, a second CPU perhaps, rather than spending the money on client access licenses for Exchange and Exchange itself.  Since you already have Exchange, either shelve it or sell it.

IF you INSIST on installing a second server because you are CERTAIN your company is going to reach 60+ users within 6-12 months, then get the transition pack and use that.

To put simply, I think using a second exchange server in your environment is overkill.  And if the server is only acting as Exchange and file/print/AD/DNS/DHCP server, then you are almost certainly far from needing to separate functions in terms of hardware capacity.

Author

Commented:
I think You are right.. I should stick to 1 server and install more space into the server, it has enought RAM(2gb).  That leads to few more questions.  I'm sure you must be hating me by now :) lol  Hopefully I'm close

1) How can I add more Hardware RAID into my existing server. Should I  buy 2 more hardrives and try to do it that way..(software RAID) or there's another option

2) Right now OS, Database, Transition Log are all in 1 drive(it has RAID 1).  Can you tell me how I can separate them (Steps on Moving the database into a new drive)

3) If I want to use another server as a backup storage. What would I need to configure so that all the data can be stored into that

4) How can I secure OWA and  Configure Group Calendar.

5) I have few users that are logging into their PC using an old username password. Now I can i make  sure that all their saved data and applications get switched over to the the new username password.  Basically they are using an old employees user info..and I need to get them a new one.

6) I need to setup an email structure such a way that it has a common mailbox(info@hz.com) that everyone can view and from that they can reply to the appropriate emails.  I was thinking of implementing that by having a common public folder for that. Would that work?
Expert of the Year 2007
Expert of the Year 2006

Commented:
Lots of interesting stuff in this article... I think I would put my two-pennys worth in.

Hard disks - You need more than 4.
If this was me, I would be looking at one of HP's machines that can take six disks. Either an ML350/370 if standalone or a DL360/380 if rack mounting.

Disk split:

2x - OS, transaction logs.
3x - Database
1x - Hot spare.

The 3x would be a RAID 5 array.
The 2x would be a mirror, with two partitions - 20gb and the rest. The 20gb partition has the OS and applications. The rest has transaction logs and message tracking logs.

NO SOFTWARE RAID - it basically makes disaster recovery more difficult than it needs to be. Hardware RAID only.
If the budget is to tight, drop processor and RAM. Exchange is storage hungry. On that number of users you could use the cheapest processor and the smallest amount of RAM available.

The database needs to be separate from the OS for performance reasons.

With regards to the SBS integration, splitting Exchange off is usually the first thing that is done. However I leave Exchange on the SBS server and enable the SBS as a frontend server.
This allows the client to continue to use all of the Remote Web Workplace features, the easy user setup on the wizards etc. The only drawback is that new users have their mailboxes created pointing to the SBS server, so before the mailbox can be used, the Move Mailbox wizard has to be used to move the account to the real Exchange server.

As long as a swing migration is carried out, then no data will be lost, all settings preserved and it can be done with zero downtime.

For securing OWA you need a commercial certificate. I use either GoDaddy or RapidSSL. No need to pay for an expensive Verisign certificate unless you need that insurance protection they provide.

If you have staff using a former staffer's credentials, then configure a new account and forward the old account to the new account. Everything will work correctly then. I never reuse accounts, or rename accounts.

Common mailboxes is quite frequently asked. You have two options - a public folder or a mailbox with the correct permissions set. Which one you use depends on how you want to work with that common mailbox.

Simon.

Author

Commented:
@ Simon : Wouldn't Keeping Exchange on SBS2003 as a frontend Server be bit Risky. since it is my main server (DC) ..How should I secure it.

- Do  you think I would require another server even with such small mailbox Size? (20-25 Maibox)?  Is there a way I can add Hardware RAID to my existing Server (SBS)

- How would I confugure Exchange Server on the new machine? Would I have to move the Database and transition log from the first server? If yeah, Can you provide me the steps?

- What is a Swing Migration?

- How can I Have OWA setup such a way that users can view their mail by using a valid Domain name.. example www.hz.com/mail or something like that

- How can I Forward the old account to the new account.. can you provide me the steps..
Expert of the Year 2007
Expert of the Year 2006

Commented:
It is no more risky than having an SBS server exposed to the internet in general - and there are loads of those. All that a frontend does is change the behaviour of the Exchange server slightly.

The point where I start suggesting spinning out Exchange is at 30 users or when the store starts to get near around 20gb. If you have a small number of users but a high store size then you need to work to get it behaving itself.
You mentioned using Enterprise Edition of Exchange in your original question. With only 25 users I would have to ask why. If you want to increase the performance of the server, but a transition pack only. That will let you install Exchange on to a separate server and be legal with CALs. It also makes best use of your existing investment in SBS.

If you do not currently have RAID on the SBS server then you will be seeing a bottleneck. While you can retro-fit RAID, it will be for data only - not the OS. To switch to RAID for the OS you would have to reinstall Windows. On SBS that means a new domain.

A swing migration is the best way of moving Exchange to a new machine. It involves moving the data using built in Exchange process and therefore can be done with zero downtime and no data loss. You do not move the databases or the transaction logs to the new server.
http://www.amset.info/exchange/migration.asp

For OWA you would simply create a new host in your internet DNS, or ask whoever looks after your internet DNS to make the change for you. I do not recommend using www. So this would be something like https://mail.domain.com/ for example. TO get to Exchange you would put /exchange on the end - https://mail.domain.com/exchange
To secure it you would use an SSL certificate.

To forward the account simply go in to the Properties of the old user account in ADUC and choose Exchange General (IIRC) and then Delivery Options. Select the new account as the one to forward to.

Simon.

Author

Commented:
I understand what you are saying but I am bit confused now. Lets say I do get another Server with RAID integrated drives ( 5 Drives : 3 for RAID 5: Database and 2 for RAID 1: Transition LOG)

When I do perform Swing Migration, It will not transfer database or the setting but just the Data itself (emails)..Is that true ? Would I have to install exchange differently in order to have just the data be migrated?

Expert of the Year 2007
Expert of the Year 2006

Commented:
Did you actually read the link that I provided above?

Exchange is designed to operate on multiple servers. It does that very well. You simply use that functionality to move the data to another machine. The key thing is to ensure that both servers are available when the users login to Outlook for the first time.

If you feel that you are out of your depth, then get someone in to do it for you. Any decent Exchange consultant should be able to do this without any problems as it is bread and butter stuff.

Simon.