Improve company productivity with a Business Account.Sign Up

  • Status: Solved
  • Priority: Medium
  • Security: Public
  • Views: 354
  • Last Modified:

MS Exchange- Need to perform a test recovery with little little resources

HI All

I need to perform a test recovery of an exchange mailbox store.
Exchange 2003 with AD. I don't have any physical resources or test servers I can do this on. I do a full backup every night using LTO3 800GB tapes with Backup Exec 10d.
The only resources I have available is a VMware ESX 3.5 Server that I could possibly create virtual servers on.
I need to be able to document and prove the that the process was successful.

I need some assistance getting this done?
Let me know if you need any further questions.
Im thinking I may need to setup some test environment and then create a DC first and then bring up an exchange server with the disaster recovery switch.  Can I do that in a test environment with a different domain name or does it need to be exactly the the same. Also how do I isolate this test environment from my production environment perhaps using this vmware esx server.

Thanks for all your help experts.
  • 9
  • 5
  • 2
  • +2
3 Solutions
Hi Eugene,
I will need some answers here....
  • When you talk about recovery what kind of recovery are you actually looking to test:
    • Recvovery of Mails that might have been deleted
    • Recovery of some User Mailbox that was deleted
    • Recovery of a Exchange Database that went corrupt
    • Recovery of the entire Exchange Server
    • Recovery of Mesaging Environment with dependencies (Like DC/DNS etc ie Site DR)
  • Also, what is your current setup like.
Third, you have VMWare good, but do you have a powerful server that can run all the Virtual servers. Yes you can use a virtual environment for testing but not for prod.
eugene20022002Author Commented:
Hi Nitin

I would like to test the recovery of an exchange store that would possibly have gotten corrupted.
I have a powerful enough Vmware ESX 3.5 Box already in place that Im using in my production enviroment. It has two small virtual servers on it ,currently running,so I think there is enough room to add another 3 or so machines.

My environment.

Active Directory ,running exchange 2003 SP2 with Windows 2003 SP2,fully updated.
I have a LTO3 Backup tape directly attached to the Mail Server that does a full backup every night.
I am not fortunate to have enough budget for a full DR site or lab for planning test recoveries and thus I need to improvise somewhat.
What additional information do you require?
The exchange is configure as follows:

"      Transaction Logs -- C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\mdbdata  
"      System Path -- C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\mdbdata
"      Log File Directory -- C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\PTA-MAIL.log

Databases reside at D:\MDBDATA
I have three stores and wanted to test the smallest store (store3.edb , store3.stm) +- 4GB
If I can manage that then I can try the bigger stores and use the same process I used for the small one.
Once I can do a test recovery of a mailbox store and prove it was successful ,then I will do full exchange recovery (I will ask another question and assign more points for that later)

eugene20022002Author Commented:
I think part of my solution will require a DC with DNS as in your question "Recovery of Mesaging Environment with dependencies (Like DC/DNS etc ie Site DR) " because I wouldnt be able to use the existing dc and dns if the solution is not to affect the prod environment
Making Bulk Changes to Active Directory

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make mass changes to Active Directory from an external text file without using complicated scripts.

Hi Eugene,
Well well, here we go Exchange is not that bad too...!
Yes go ahead and setup a replicate of your environment, pretty simple. And do a test.
Another good reading is here :::
Hope this helps
eugene20022002Author Commented:
The thing is. I need to use Backup Exec because that is what Im using in my prod environment.
I also need to use my current backup tapes of the current production exchange server. Thats the data I need to restore and test. Not make a backup of a test mail server and then restore the test mail server.
hi there, great you can use esx 3.5 or vmware workstation.

use p2v its free
this will export any physical server to a virtual one and will be able to be opend in vmware.
run this on your DC (global catalog and DNS server holding) and take a copy of the image and play in in VMware or esx.
do the same for your exch server.
you will how have 1 DC and your exchange server in a virtual enviornment working.
dismount and delete the databases on the virtual network.
then restore them to the virtual network to test if they are working fine.

remember that if you ahve more than 1 dc hosting the FSMO roles you will need to seize them on the virtual envirnment, and this server must be a global catalog.

hope this helps
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
We have many customers using the ESX as a Disaster Recovery option by installing Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server on the Exchange Server and performing image backups on a daily/hourly basis.  What the images give you is a way to recover to a virtual machine in case the Exchange Server dies.  Using VMWare Converter you can convert the latest image to a virtual machine.  The software gives you the capability to do P2V but also gives you an important capability to back using V2P, for instance if you get your Exchange server up and running after a crash and you virtualize your Exchage server and need to put back on a physical box.

The only other piece you would need is an image or P2V of your domain controller.  Once you have both servers on the ESX I normally setup a vswitch that is not connected to any physical nics and test. Once the test is done you can blow away the VMs and have a fairly easy way to perform a DR test and document.  

You may download Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server as a trial to test.

eugene20022002Author Commented:
Hi Mike
I think we getting somewhere. Im not an expert on Vmware but good enough to quickly learn what is needed. Lets see if I have this right..

1. I need to convert the physical DC to a virtual one (Wont this impact on my production environment because it will be a 100% copy and there will be conflicts when both is up. The virtual DC will have to be in a separate network not interfering on the production environment at all. Is there another way for me to make a copy of the physical dc and use the copy in a test network?
2. In the test network will it be ok to just have a Virtual DC that was GC in the prod environment? Im not sure what FSMO roles its acting as.
1. p2v will extract your DC and exchange in to a single image file, you then copy this image to a usb drive then copy it to a esx or vmware workstation host then open it. Thisvirtual enviornment cannot be connected to the same subnet as the live environment.

2 yes you want a dc aht is a global catalog and DNS server. you can seize the FSMO roles if this dc is not the holder of all 5 in the productive enviornment.
eugene20022002Author Commented:
Ok this is my progress thus far.

My Plan is to create 2 machines. 1 DC,Client and Exchange Machine. All virtual on there own isolated network called Recovery.

Creation of DC.

I setup a virtual DC in my production environment. My main DC is physical and I would use this virtual DC as a back sort off. Its in AD replicated,DNS integrated zones and everything seems to working fine on this DC in the production environment.
I then created a clone of this DC and changed the clone to the recovery network.

Creation of Client

Its just a standard Vista Client Virtual machine with Office etc. not belonging to any domain yet. I will add this machine to the domain in the recovery network,see if that works.

Creation of Exchange

I have my base OS and haven't installed or configured exchange yet.

If I simply copy the databases from the backup tapes to the exchange server(Same locations and drive) and then install exchange in Desasterrecovery mode,will that work?
Or what would be the easiest way to test the restore of one mailstore with proof that it works?

Another issue that I came across is that I cannot actually use Backup Exec to restore the stores . I get an error that the stores are in use and that I need to dismount the stores. Now I obviously cannot dismount the stores in my production environment.
How else can I get the stores restored to another location without the need to dismount it?
I can do this using NTBackup but that doesnt solve the issue of me using backup exec but cannot test the restore in a test enviroment.

Thanks again for all your again guys/gals

hi there, forst off you dont need to deploy a new dc.
just make a virtual copy of the productive dc using p2v.

you can deploy a new virtual server using the /disaster recovery switch if you want, just remeebr to patch it up to date with the live one. (this is a better test rather than making a copy of the live exch 2003 server)

use veritas to make a copy to disk image of the excahgne store.
install vertias on a virtual server in the test network.
copy the backup to disk file over and then restore to your exchange server.

hope this helps
eugene20022002Author Commented:
Hi Bertling

I was going to deploy virtual DC before I started with the recovery so Now was just a good time to do it. Its working well and I cloned it afterwards and put the cloned DC in the recovery Network.
I am not planning to make a copy of the live Exchange 2003 server but to rather set it up on a blank 2003 virtual server in the recovery network and once I have the stores copied across will try to install exchange in DR mode and see if it works.

How do I use Backup Exec to make a copy to disk image of the exch store?

follow that then in then do a 1 off backup and select the backup to disk rather than the tape store.
eugene20022002Author Commented:
Thanx,will try that tonight and then see how it goes.
eugene20022002Author Commented:
I managed to do two simulations. One simulating the absolute worst case scenario and one using the recommended methods on the MS website.

I'm will post my findings later today.
SteveIT ManagerCommented:
Have you considered using BESR to create the images instead of Veritas ? this would allow you to take images of your existing server/s, then convert them to virtual disks with minimal impact on your systems.

Using this you could easily take backups of your production environment and restore to another machine to create a test/disaster recovery environment..

Symantec BESR is available from Symantec's website on a 60-day free trial prior to purchase.

sgsm81 we have advised to use p2v which is kinda the same thing from vmware.
eugene20022002Author Commented:
Hi experts,sorry for the delay,just been extremely busy.
I resolved my problem. Basically its a multi tierd solution.
There was so many aspects I needed to think of mainly because my resources was but a Vmware server and I couldn't touch the production environment meaning I had to create an infrastructure that would atleast mimic or provide enough support for me to test my exchange recovery and backups.

1. I had to setup the environment
  • I first had to setup the environment by by creating a clone of my Virtual DC and putting the clone into a recovery network seperate from my production environment. That provided the AD structure.
  • I then had to sieze the roles and make it a GC because it was the only DC in the test network.
  • The create 2 other VMs one for exhange and one for a client.
2. Get the data from tape
  • This was tricky because I tried many different solutions until I found one that worked.
  • I had to use Backup Exec.
  • I inserted the tape and then did a restore to folder
  • Then copied the restored databases and logs to the other Win2k3 VM and once the data was there I removed that server from the Production network and into the recovery network
3. Installing Exchange
  • I then had to reset the computer account for DR exchange server and give it the same name as the one in the Prod environemt.
  • Reboot and AD the server to the DR domain
  • Then install exchange with the desasterrecovery switch
4. Mounting the mailboxes
  • Here I had some trouble, I  first copied the stores and logs to the original location
  • When I tried to mount it gave me database inconsistency errors.
  • then thought to try two DR scenarios. 1 would be Worst case scenario and the other the recommended way
  • Scenario 1 I tried recovery the database using the edesutil utility
  • that didnt work and then i tried the repair using the same tool but with the /p switch. I would never do that on a prod server because the risk is enormous and you really would only do this as an absolute last resort. Well that worked for me and I was able to mount the store and all of the data was accesssible. Lucky me :-) Anyway that was scenario 1 when you dont have a backup and your databases got corrupt.
  • Scenario 2 I simply had to replay the logs to make the databases and logs consistent with the /cc switch and I was able to mount the stores.

Thanx to everyone that helped once again.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

Join & Write a Comment

Featured Post

Creating Active Directory Users from a Text File

If your organization has a need to mass-create AD user accounts, watch this video to see how its done without the need for scripting or other unnecessary complexities.

  • 9
  • 5
  • 2
  • +2
Tackle projects and never again get stuck behind a technical roadblock.
Join Now