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Backing up Exchange 2007 Data - Best practices

Posted on 2007-11-21
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Hi all,

We are going to begin our testing period for our new Exchnage Server 2007 deployment in the company.
Small company around 40 employees

I was wondering if someone could guide me on the best way to perform data backup for the system.
We have the following systems at our disposal:
- Backup Exec
- Network Attached Storage
- Tape Backup system x 2


Any expert advice / help on this would be fantastic!
Thanks, Craig
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Question by:chouckham
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SteveH_UK earned 300 total points
ID: 20326606
I've not used Exchange 2007 but I have used Exchange 5.5, 2000 and 2003 in multiple environments.  2007 is not much different from a backup/recovery model perspective.

You need to make sure that Active Directory is always available, even after a disaster.  That means a reliable, off-site backup of Active Directory System State and System Partition.  This should be no more than 30 days old, and you should keep several as Exchange stores configuration information in Active Directory.

Next, you need backups of the Exchange mail databases.  This means backing up each storage group and store, and logs.  Use a product such as BackupExec 11d to give you reliable backups.  This product is suitable for your environment.  Retrospect is also a good bet.

Using networked storage is ok, but it doesn't cover you if it dies too, e.g. in a fire.  So make sure you do complete backups to tape and take them off site.  I recommend that you do a grandfather, father, son tape rotation strategy and that you do full backups at least weekly.  You can do differential or incremental backups more frequently.  We do differential backups to disk every three hours and full backups every day, with weekly and quarterly off-site rotations.

My advice, backup everything as frequently as you can afford.  It makes the system management job easier, and recovery more reliable.
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by:SteveH_UK
SteveH_UK earned 300 total points
ID: 20326614
If you want a really easy recovery, make complete backups of all relevant servers.  This includes System State, System Partition and Data Partitions (but not the Exchange database files) and (separately) the Exchange Database files.  Use a backup agent that supports VSS to make reliable snapshots of the Exchange database.
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by:SteveH_UK
SteveH_UK earned 300 total points
ID: 20326621
Finally, prepare a disaster recovery kit and make sure that you have everything you need in it.  Passwords, backup rotation schedule, server details and roles, disk partition information and Exchange configuration.  Then TEST!  You need to be comfortable when it comes to pass.  On a separate thread myself and another expert have just been helping someone recover from a disaster when he had not prepared sufficiently.
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by:cgordon81
cgordon81 earned 200 total points
ID: 20401495
Having recently gone through  a Backup Exec Admin I & II i would also reccomend BESR (Backup Exec System Recovery) which is a relativley newer product but allows you to do bare metal restores to dissimilar hardware!  Very cool software, works on a similar principal to ghost but you don't have to take your server offline.  I Would not adovcate this as an end all solution but as a a product in case you have an "OH shit" problem or you need to get backup up really quick while rebuilding your hardware.  This also means having a spare server or one you can use to be effective though.
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by:SteveH_UK
ID: 20402533
And even if you plan to use BESR, make sure you test it regularly, so that you can be confident on the day that you need it.
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by:SteveH_UK
ID: 20402538
As an example, during testing of a BE10d disaster recovery scenario, we found a bug in the product that we were able to workaround only with substantial effort involving Symantec.  It would not have been good if we didn't know this in advance.
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