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Backup Confusion

Posted on 2009-02-23
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
We are backing up our MS Exchange using the standard Windows Backup routine.
It runs daily.
Recently I needed to check the backup for the possibility of restoring some deleted emails.

I do not understand what I found.

In the Restore & Manage Media window I located the EXCH.bkf that has the daily backups.
They are all labeled {computer name}\Microsoft Information Store\First Storage Group
In each is a sub-folder that is labeled "Log Files". This sub-folder is empty.
That is all there is.

I do not see any other backup that is current.

This looks to me like the backups are not really backing up any data.
Is this the case?
When I go to select what to backup the window provides me with this tree:
Microsoft Exchange Server > {computer name} > Microsoft Information Store > First Storage Group.

That is what is selected for backup.

What is happening?
Are these backup not backing up what they are supposed to?
If not what should they be backing up?
Question by:Prester John
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LVL 21

Accepted Solution

suppsaws earned 996 total points
ID: 23713013
yes, that is totally normal.
with the standard SBS backup you can only restore the whole exchange database (First Storage Group).
You cannot simply do a document level restore like other 3rd party programs do.
If it's only deleted items though the users can restore themselves in outlook by going to Tools > recover deleted items.

here is some more info:

Expert Comment

ID: 23721510
You might want to look into something like Symantec's Backupexec (or netbackup which will cost you more $$). It allows you to backup individual mailboxes which (depending on your mail store size) can be a time saver. It takes all of 2minutes to restore an email. Of course the downside is double the tape consumption, because you still have to backup the mail store along with the individual tapes (you could backup just the mail store but can't do email level restores that way) because if you don't do the mail store backup then it doesn't delete the transition logs... talk about a headache!  

The odds are you are under budget constraints like everyone else and can't buy this software, worth mentioning though! Also easy to manage all other server backups/policies, SQL all in one spot with an easy interface.
LVL 10

Author Comment

by:Prester John
ID: 23723259
No options for new backup strategies for the foreseeable future.

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LVL 10

Author Comment

by:Prester John
ID: 23784720
I am requesting that this question be re-opened.

suppsaw's statement that the situation I described was completely normal was completely wrong.

I discovered this yesterday when Exchange crashed and we lost a very important Public Folder.

I went to the daily backups and discovered that there was no data in any of the daily backups.

This is a very disappointing turn of events and not the level of support I would expect from EE.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 23784801
if you backup with the SBS backup exchange IS being backupped!
So yes, that situation is completely normal.
and yes you CAN restore public folder, but with that attitude, fix it yourself!
have a nice day!
LVL 10

Author Comment

by:Prester John
ID: 23786325
My attitude was just fine until yesterday.

>if you backup with the SBS backup exchange IS being backupped!<
I'm stating the facts.
The backups seem to be functioning but they are not.
that's why I very carefully described what I was seeing in the daily backups.

When I described the daily backups [just as I did in my opening for this thread] to an IT pro, the first thing he said was "It sounds like there is no data in those backups.
Your response that all was completely normal totally missed the mark and I bought it.

It's my fault that I didn't just perform a full backup when my instincts told me there was something wrong.

I know how to restore a deleted Public Folder. It does not work in this case.

Sorry if you got your feelings hurt but I hold the trump card as far as the anger factor is concerned here.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 23786553
After re-reading this question, I think I've read this a bit too fast ... .
You have to understand that I am just trying to help people here, I don't gain a thing in return for it (and I don't want to).
I try to help as much people I can, so I'me doing alot of questions/day.
That is why I read some qestions pretty fast.

Now, onto the question:
"We are backing up our MS Exchange using the standard Windows Backup routine." I thought you ment the SBS backup routine, not NTbackup (I think that is what YOU ment?).
The SBS backup, if it's configured by default backups all exchange data.
That is why I said "with the standard SBS backup you can only restore the whole exchange database (First Storage Group)."

Look, this has happened, let's try to solve this, as I am always willing to do.
In what way did this exchange 'crash'? "I discovered this yesterday when Exchange crashed and we lost a very important Public Folder." , what happened exactly?

LVL 10

Author Comment

by:Prester John
ID: 23788195
I'm in the middle of doing a full backup.
I have a quick minute.

I have been getting a lot of [apparent] misinformation from a lot of local sources today <not you> and am managing to not explode at the moment.

Yesterday, Public Folder "Ed" vanished.
One minute it was there and then not.
Ed was the most valuable Public Folder we have.

There appears to be no other data missing.  [!]

Thinking that someone might have renamed and/or moved Ed I have searched the Public Folders for any of the files that were in Ed and they don't show up either.

I tried to recover it through Outlook's Recover Deleted... option & it didn't show up.
I tried MS's PFDAVAdmin download on the server and it shows nothing either.

My off-site "go-to" guys couldn't find Ed either and they have been adding to the confusion regarding the backups.

Gotta go for now.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 23789404
that is probably a user who deleted it?
Have you tried these methods?
LVL 10

Author Comment

by:Prester John
ID: 23797696
Thank you, CLM.

Yes I tried both.

There is no way that a user could have deleted it without leaving a trail for an undelete, as far as I can tell.

Due to a corruption of the original [full] backup the data was unrecoverable.
It's a dead horse, now. The data is gone. We are in reconstruction mode.

I have restructured my backup strategy to prevent this from happening again.

And FYI you do not have to restore the entire Exchange database. You have the option to select either or both Mail & Public Folders stores for restoration.

While technically your original answer was correct, it had so little real information in it that I just read "all is well" and moved on.
 I have no one to blame but myself reading it that way and for the data loss, but the answer was definitely not an "A" answer.
I am re-accepting your answer and closing this thread permanently.

 The next time my subconscious sends me red flags I will listen.
LVL 10

Author Closing Comment

by:Prester John
ID: 31550156
See my closing statement.

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