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Exchange 2003 Backup Questions

Posted on 2007-04-06
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Last Modified: 2010-04-18
We have some backup questions about using the Windows backup utility program with a Windows 2003 server running Exchange 2003.
1.  What is the best way to back up Exchange and the mailboxes, does the information store (under exchange server-server name-information store-first storage group) need to be backed up each night and is checking it in the selections along with the server drives and system state all we need to do to get it to back up?
2.  Will this allow us to restore individual mailboxes if necessary from the backup?
3.  Will the server have problems if this backup, including the information store, is running while users are accessing exchange for email, calendars, etc and if so would it be better to have the informations store run a backup in the middle of the night on its own or does it need to be backed up all together with the rest of the server (server drives, including the one with exchange on it, and system state)?

Thanks for your help.
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Question by:sim2k_support
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10 Comments
 
LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:AbhijeetNigam
AbhijeetNigam earned 500 total points
ID: 18864347
Answers to your question
1) Yes you can backup exchange infoirmation store every night however create a different job to backup system state
2)Well you have exchange 2003 , so you use RSG(Recovery storage group) to recover mailboxes. in this case you use http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/824126 
3) It is not recommended to run backup during working hours as it affects the performance of the server
we should always backup the server in off hours
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LVL 30

Accepted Solution

by:
LauraEHunterMVP earned 500 total points
ID: 18864387
1. The following document details the steps needed to back up critical files on your Exchange 2003 server so that it can be restored in the event of a disaster or hardware outage: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=A58F49C5-1190-4FBF-AEDE-007A8F366B0E&displaylang=en
2. Not directly. Backing up individual mailboxes is referred to a "brick-level backup", which is a different (and much more resource-intensive) process than backing up the entire Information Store en masse. Different options for mailbox recovery are discussed here: http://www.msexchange.org/tutorials/Exchange_Server_2003_Mailbox_Recovery.html
3.  It is generally a good practice to run any backup, Exchange or otherwise, during a time of low server utilization. That said, an Exchange 2003-aware backup tool will use transaction logs to deal with changes that are made to the Exchange database while the backup is running, as described here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998379.aspx

Hope this helps.

Laura E. Hunter - Microsoft MVP: Windows Server - Networking
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Author Comment

by:sim2k_support
ID: 18864390
Thanks, so if I am reading this correctly, we need to have a seperate job for the server drives and information store and a second job each night just for system state?  Why is that?
The backup job is fairly long and can run into the morning sometimes, which is why I thought it might be a good idea to backup the information store on its own at say, 2 am one night a week and not have the other parts of the backup run so that it can finish before people get in and start working.  Is that ok or does the whole server need to be backed up when the information store is backed up?

Thanks,
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LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 18864575
The whole server does not need to be backed up when you do the information store... however, if e-mail is important to you (and it is in most companies in my experience) then you want to do a backup more like once a night and not once a week.
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LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:Hypercat (Deb)
Hypercat (Deb) earned 500 total points
ID: 18865641
Why does your backup take so long?  Are you doing full backups every night?  If so, you should set up a rotation scheme instead and do full backups once a week (usually done on Friday night) and differential backups on the other days.  This will allow you to do a full recovery at any time but will limit the amount of time it takes to do a backup.  If you're not doing full backups every night and your backup is still taking this long, it may be time for a newer, faster backup device.

You should ideally be backing up everything critical every night, including the Exchange info store.  Doing a system state backup every day may not be as critical, but it's usually only a very small percentage of your entire backup.  In the scheme of things, backing it up every night is a good idea.  And no, you don't need to back it up separately; it can be a part of the same backup job as everything else.
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Author Comment

by:sim2k_support
ID: 18865800
That's the plan now to do full jobs over the weekend and differentials during the week.  Does doing a differential with the Information store, make it only back up the new items or will it still back up the whole store even if the job is differential.  Also does the program files\exchsvr folder need to be backed up if the information store is also being backed up?

Thanks.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 18865888
The Exchange info store backup will always be a "full" backup because the info store is a single file.  So, it gets backed up because it has always been updated between backups.  You do need to backup the exchsvr folder, but you can exclude the MDBDATA folder if you want, since that's where the info stores and transactions logs are.  However, you don't really need to exclude them, because the files in that folder are always in use and won't be backed up anyway.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:r-k
ID: 18870078
I also suggest doing the Exchange backup every night. How long it takes depends on the size of the database, but also on media. I would suggest a disk to disk backup. Also, I use two separate backup jobs that rotate on alternate nights, so you always have the previous night's backup in case something goes wrong with a particular backup.
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Expert Comment

by:Computer101
ID: 20526446
Forced accept.

Computer101
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