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Best backup solution for Exchange Server 2003

Posted on 2008-02-05
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Last Modified: 2010-04-21
OK, let's keep this simple.  

I need a solid, simple solution to backup my Exchange mailboxes and info store on my Exchange Server 2003.

I'm using windows native backup (ntbackup) but I've been reading that flat files are bad for exchange.

I have BU Exec 10d but it won't backup for some reason and honestly, I'm tired of fighting it.  I prefer software that works and doesn't require me to spend my life tweaking and baby-sitting.

I have several terabytes of space so I want a disk to disk solution.

Thanks.

Cliff
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Question by:crp0499
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Expert Comment

by:wmeerza
ID: 20828983
Backups Exec 10d will do the job fine (you need the exchange agent) as will the newer 11d.
Do you have any errors or messages as to why it won't backup?
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by:mass2612
ID: 20828987
Hi,

NT Backup can work fine in most situations and is Exchange aware therefore it can complete an online backup of the Storage groups without a problem. If you have $$ and lots of data I would probably recommend a product like Backup Exec, Brightstor Arcserve. I have used both of these in the past and they work fine. I currently use EMC's Legato Networker and that also works fine. All of these can be troublesome at times but you might be best to ask a questions specifically about your Backup Exec issues.

Do you have the Exchange agent running for Backup Exec?
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by:supports
ID: 20828989
We use Retrospect 7.0 and so far never had any issue restoring database ....
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Author Comment

by:crp0499
ID: 20829011
We have the exchange agent license and it is installed.  Our exchange server shows in the list of servers, as does the store and mailboxes.  However, EVERYtime i look at a backup, it has failed due to a mailbox no longer existing or access denied or some other obscure message that no matter what I do it still fails!  

I'm looking for something I don't have to babysit EVERY freaking day and tweak cos the wind blew and the program decided to fail.


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by:wmeerza
ID: 20829027
ok ok, calm down, i know it can be frustrating. Because the job says it failed does not mean you don't have a good backup of what you need.
Have you restored the exchange store and mailboxes that do exist without problems and verified that the data is good?
and what are the access denied errors, it may just be a case of fixing up the apparent problems. Can you post some examples.
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by:mass2612
ID: 20829234
Every piece of backup software I have used has some nuances that you just have to get used to and resolve. If you are backing up terabytes worth of Exchange data then you are probably going to see a fair amount of errors. Unfortunately nothing is perfect. If it was we'd be out of a job.
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Author Comment

by:crp0499
ID: 20829305
I have yet to need to restore a mailbox.  In another office I manage, we DID just have a catastrophic data loss of SQL and I had to rebuild from transaction log files cos the single point of backup was not good.  Although I was able to get the data back, it made me start looking more closely at my existing backups.

in the case of the xchange server, it hold mailboxes and mail for 250+ users in a school/church and I need to make sure it's backed up and that I can restore.  

wmeerza, it is as you say  I get failures EVERY time but the amount of data backed up is huge.  I have yet to attempt a browse to "see" if the mail is there, but I suspect it is.

I guess I dont like error messages that tell me access is denied when I'm backing up using the right username/password combo and it passes the authentication test.

ntbackup never fails and never misses a beat.  BUT, i read, as i stated in my post, that flat files are bad for exchange.

anyway, it seems I'm back to B/U Exec to see if I can work something out.
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by:mass2612
ID: 20829401
Flat file backup of Exchange to me means that you are backing up Exchange via C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\MDBDATA. If that's what you mean I agree that's no good.

You need to use the built in Exchange agent for NtBackup from the Exchange server. IMO if you are using this method you are not completing a flat file backup. This is shown here - http://www.petri.co.il/images/backup2.gif
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Author Comment

by:crp0499
ID: 20829425
Thanks mass...I was not aware of this.  I am in fact backing up from a backup server and mapping my mbdata across the network.  I ALSO use BU Exec, but I don't have a good feeling so I want to get something up that allows me to sleep at night.
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by:ryansoto
ID: 20829449
Backup exec 11d has come a looooong way vs. 10
We ran version 10 and it was a complete piece of crap.  11d is much better.  
Backing up the information store as one unit is so much faster then each mailbox as version 10 does.  We backup 45G worth of email in 2 hours on a 3 yr old dog.
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mass2612 earned 2000 total points
ID: 20829456
No worries. Backup exec is pretty good but like I said issues are bound to arise with anything. The good thing about NT Backup is that its free and works although its pretty limited in its feature set. I would not normally recommend it for a large backup environment but what you could do is backup Exchange using it to a file and then backup that flat file to wherever with Backup exec.

I would certainly pursue the issues with backup exec probably in another post.

Make sure you test you ability to restore Exchange at some point no matter what you end up using.
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by:ryansoto
ID: 20829496
IMO the problem with NTbackup is you dont have the ability to pull a single email or a single folder you have to restore the whole backup to a new storage group.  CaCa. but like mass said its free.
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by:mass2612
ID: 20829585
I agree recovering the whole database can be a pain but I don't like brick level backups either. The RSG technology has made this a lot easier and I tend to steer clear of brick level backup nowdays.

This type of question is very open ended as everyone has different thoughts on what they think is good and what they have experience with so I'm not saying they are bad I just prefer not to use them.
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by:wmeerza
ID: 20829657
I agree with all the above. Comfort with the tool you are using goes a long way, the real test is in the restore process being 'tested'. If you know you can recover the data you need, you will sleep better.
The tools you have will in fact do the job, you can always upgrade or pay more for a different solution but this will also take time for you to get familiar with it.
Apart from recovering from a total catastrophe (which should be tested) what are your most likely events that will occur that require restoring data. List them out, test them all, go to bed and sleep tight!
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 20829792
I agree - you don't want to do brick level backups (which allow you pull out a single e-mail) - they are painfully slow.  I have not seen a problem with the use of NTBACKUP to a file and use it in multiple locations. The key to ANY backups is to periodically test them and review logs.
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by:cuadmin
ID: 20830855
I use backup assist. It has an exchange and SQL add-on that works fine. www.backupassist.com 

Couple that with using exmerge daily to backup the users mailboxes to a .pst file to an external hard drive and i reckon i've got it covered.
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Author Closing Comment

by:crp0499
ID: 31428364
I ended up using NT Backup to back up the entire info store each day into daily folders.  I then backup the files to tape.  It's working great...
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