Backup Strategy Recommendations

Posted on 2007-08-07
Last Modified: 2013-12-01
Hi, we are interested in improving our Backup Strategy.  We have 6 servers we need to backup:  1 has Exchange 2003, 1 has Exchange 2000 along with Active Directory, and the other 4 just contain data (2 are Server 2000 and 2 are Server 2003).  The total amount of data to backup between all 6 servers is about 250 Gigs.

Currently we use Backup Exec on each server and perform full backups every weekday (Mon-Fri).  We backup to a machine on our network with lots of disk space.  This has worked okay, however because our backups replace the previous day's backup, we are only able to restore one day back.  And if some type of virus attacked our servers and our backup machine, our data would be gone.  So after reading recommendations on Experts Exchange, we purchased an LTO-3 tape drive with 20 tapes (4 weeks of weekday full backups).

Our original plan was to continue to have all 6 servers backup using Backup Exec to our backup machine, and then have our backup machine backup all 250 Gigs of BKF files to tape.  However this would cause 2 steps to restore data older than 1 day which we wanted to try to avoid.  First we would have to restore the BKF files from tape, and second then restore the data from the BKF files.  We also ran into a problem because Backup Exec 11D is unable to backup individual Exchange mailboxes remotely.  So to backup individual mailboxes like we need on our Exchange 2003 server, the tape drive would have to be connected directly to it.  (Our older version of Backup Exec 10.0 on the Exchange 2000 server can backup individual Exchange mailboxes remotely, I'm not sure why the 11D won't do that).

Our new plan then was to connect the tape drive to the Exchange 2003 server and have it backup itself and the other five servers remotely to tape.  We haven't tried this yet and the amount of time to do this may be an issue.  If we could in addition make an exact duplicate of each of the servers to our backup machine using some type of software.  Then if we needed to restore a file from the previous day, we could just copy it over and wouldn't have to mess with compressed BKF files.  It also wouldn't take much time to sync because it would only update the files that have changed each day.  I don't know if this is even possible with Active Directory and Exchange.

I'm wondering if anyone has a better backup strategy they recommend?

I appreciate any information I can get.

Thank you,
Question by:TheNewLobo
    LVL 28

    Accepted Solution

    The two assumptions you make can be worked aroud. You should be able to maintain your current 6 server full backup every day.
    * If you have backup to disk file, you should not back up the BKF files to tape afterwards. Instead you should create what is called a Duplication job. This will unpack the data in the BKF files and store it as individual files on tape. You can have the duplication job start immediately after the Backup to Disk job finsihes. This will give you a one-step restore.
    * 11D can still back up individual mailboxes, but it is not recommended. It is veeery slow and unreliable. Instead BE11 has the feature to "Enable restore of individual mail messages from Information Store backups". This will only backup the Informaton Store, but then afterwards log on to Exchange and build a catalog of all mail messages. Individual mail messages will then be visible under the IS when you open a restore window. This can be done without problems for remote Exchange servers. You only need build 7170 to make it work reliably.
    There is still a way to back up mailboxes the old way (Tools/Options/Exchange/Enable Legacy mailbox backup) - but I would not recommend doing this.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    A better backup strategy would be analyze your needs and determine what is most appropriate for you.

    What happens if the building burns down?

    Full backups every night are waste.  Backup exec on EVERY server is a waste.  I would suggest you read over my backup comment.  I used to cut and paste it into here, until it simply got too long, so now it's on a web site.
    LVL 63

    Expert Comment

    I agree with Lee that BE on each server is probably a waste.

    One or 2 servers is fine.

    I also agree that you need to take a deep look at your Disaster recovery options.

    Offsite storage, offsite hardware ready to go to restore files, including a Tape drive if you are serious about fast recovery.

    Also incremental or differential backups are a lot more efficiet in most cases.

    I hope this helps !

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