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Exchange 2003 replication bet. 2 2003 servers for backup purposes.

Posted on 2010-11-10
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I have 2 dc's running windows server 2003. 1 server is pdc running exchange 2003, which has a raid 5 and was the only one on site for quite a while. I have recently added a small server for recovery purposes which is a cheap computer just to be able to recover dc easier after corrupt os and working with backups to restore programs plus data.

2nd server is a cheap raid 1 server, where I have recently added bes. Now I want to have as easy a job as possible to recover from crash, hardware failure, etc. for data files, I am currently using robocopy as a scheduled task. for exchange, I am still looking for a solution (cheap). robocopy, will recopy the entire db which is getting big, and will never finish, nor will it ever be up to date even within half hr. (and is really not doable). Normal backups are only done once daily and taken off site.

Soooo the question, I want to replicate exchange db on server1 to server2. would exchange replication be an option? I did read that its for 5.5 to 2003 not 2 2003's.
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Question by:JoeyTheGreat
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by:Lee W, MVP
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If these are Enterprise versions of Exchange, then you can create a cluster.  Replication for redundancy requiers Exchange 2007 or later.
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by:JoeyTheGreat
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But a cluster is expensive no? That's why I didn't go there till now.
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by:MegaNuk3
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Your cheapest option is to rely on your backups

Or extract the mailboxes to PST every day using exmerge, then you can use them to import quickly into exchange, once you have got exchange installed and running again
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by:JoeyTheGreat
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I need something automatic and at least every half hr. or so.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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Do you NEED it or do you WANT it?  A need is a must have... a want is not.  A must have is worth the money... and a want is not.

Another option is to use full server replication software - but these products are expensive.  For an SBS install, it would cost about $2000 minimum.  For a non-SBS install, you're looking at closer to $6500+ MINIMUM.

An upgrade to Exchange 2007/2010 would cost you at least $2000 in Exchange license fees - EXCLUDING CALs, not to mention possible license fees for upgrading the operating systems to support the newer versions of Exchange.

You could also look into virtualization systems that provide near instant failover to a VM in the event of a primary server failure.  These solutions tend to be AT LEAST $1500 themselves and that's for the low end model, you may need/want a higher end model that could cost $2500+

Basically, if being down for 8 hours would cost your business $5000, then $2500 on a solution is probably worth it... but if being down for 8 hours only costs the business $500 in lost productivity and sales, then it's not worth it to spend so much just because you never WANT to have an e-mail outage.
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by:MegaNuk3
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You can schedule exmerge to run in batch mode so it will do incremental or full extracts of all your mailboxes, that is free

As leew says, spend money on a proper solution if your business cannot afford downtime or move to a hosted solution/cloud services so your uptime is someone elses headache.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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> hosted solution/cloud services so your uptime is someone elses headache.
While true, it's someone elses headache, you no longer have control over it and are potentially paying MORE over time.  There are benefits to cloud based services and there are drawbacks.  Some things are great in the cloud... others... not so much.  
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by:JoeyTheGreat
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Leew I want it for no down time and nothing lost purposes. Backups currently run only every night. Which means that until backup ends, I have only a day old copy of all the emails etc. Sooo while the maximum data I might lose is 1 day, that is also too much. And besides that, I'll have a long downtime (if server needs parts). Same goes for all files.
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Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
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Your server runs your business - you seem to know this - so why would you have a server with less than 4 hour on-site service and/or that was out of warranty?  If you didn't get that level of service, I suggest you contact your server vendor and find out how you can add it on.

With Exchange, if you're using Outlook Cached mode, then you generally won't lose ANYTHING (or almost nothing), as the OST file should contain an exact copy of each user's Exchange Mailbox.  If the Exchange server fails, then you immediately backup the OST files (just to be safe) and get a tool to convert them to PST files.  Meanwhile, you fix the server.  There should be NO WAY a competent consultant lets you be offline without e-mail for more than a day. And ALMOST all mail systems will retry sending e-mail to you for 2-4 days and notify the sender there was a problem after 4 hours.  So if the mail system is down for 24 hours, all that "missed" mail will be delivered within a few hours of restoring it and all previous mail is in the user's OST/PST files.

Other than that, your comment changes nothing as far as I can tell.  What I said in comment 34113615 still holds true.  You need to decide how much you can afford to lose being down.  DoubleTake should cover you - but it's NOT CHEAP.  If this is so important, than the price tag won't stop you.  

Put another way, this kind of redundancy is EXPENSIVE.  For everyone.  It's just easier for big companies to spend the 5 figures needed to effectively implement such a system.
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by:JoeyTheGreat
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I am currently looking into backup assist to see if that can automatically backup and restore to second dc every 4 hrs. or so.
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