Help needed on how to backup Exchange 2007 on VM Server 2008

I am running Hyper-V server with a Windows Server 2008 Virtual Machine, which contains Microsoft Exchange 2007.  I finally got everything set up the way I want, with 1 exception.  I need a viable and reliable backup for it, and I just now read that the Backup Utility in Server 2008 is incapable of doing the job.

I can't afford to buy Backup-Exec... So if you are thinking suggesting some 3rd party software, it needs to permanent and free.

I read something about using VSS to do the job, but I wanted to know how to use it to make it reliable.  From the Hyper-V host machine, I run backups for all of the virtual machines using VSS.

Will that be enough to back up the virtual machine AND the Exchange Database and provide a viable Exchange backup?  Please let me know if there are any special tasks that I need to perform along with the VSS backup to make this happen.

Thanks again.
KCU1Asked:
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mass2612Commented:
Hi,

I believe MS enabled Windows Backup to backup Exchange 2007 from the Exchange box with SP2 for Exchange 2007. Have you installed the SP?

Details of Exchange 2007 SP2 in-box backup when running on Windows Server 2008
http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2009/05/13/3407461.aspx

Is this a lab/test setup? If this is production for a company if they can't afford a backup solution then they can't afford Exchange - its like saying you have money to buy a new car but no money to put fuel in it.
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Kini pradeepPrincipal Cloud and security consultantCommented:
There are multiple options available, however there are challenges to each one of them.

1. Backup the Hyper-V VM, however the whole machine will not provide granular recovery for exch mailboxes or emails.

2. Backup volumes with exchange stores using windows backup. No granular recovery provided out of box, however you may use the RSG to recover mails, mailboxes
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p_nutsCommented:
See if you can afford dpm
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ManojExchangeCommented:
You should have Exchange 2007 SP2 to enable Windows backup(its free).  Below link has the detailed explanation:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee221172(EXCHG.80).aspx

Thanks
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KCU1Author Commented:
Kprad,
When you say granular recovery, you mean just doing a simple restore of the mailboxes right?  But if using the Hyper-V VM backup will allow me to do a full restore of the exchange server and not lose mailbox rules or data, then that is the way I will go...

ManojExchange,
SP3 should have the same updates for Windows Backup, right?

Using the WSBExchange.exe plugin that comes with SP2 (or SP3?): In order to get a backup file that can be used to restore the Exchange Database, Windows Backup has to be installed ON the Exchange VM server itself, and it must be a FULL backup of the entire VM server.  So if I have a hardware failure and have to recover from my backups, I simply do a full restore of that particular virtual machine with the exchange server on it, and I am good to go... Do I understand that correctly?

I also heard that NTBackup from Server 2003 can be manipulated to be used on Server 2008.  Does anyone have a link that might explain how that is done?  I want to research that option as a secondary backup method (If I have more than one backup, odds are better that one of them will have what I need to complete a disaster recovery test).
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KCU1Author Commented:
I have installed SP3 and Update Rollup 3-v2 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3.  There were no apparent complications.  There is now a new service that wasn't there before called "Microsoft Exchange Server Extension for Windows Server Backup.

It could save me a few days worth of work and wonder if I could find out from someone who knows if the Windows Server Backup run from the Hyper-V host will be able to create a backup that will restore the entire Exchange Server VM, and provide a fully functioning Exchange server afterwords...

Or...

Does the volume backup actually have to be run from the Windows Server Backup on the Exchange Server VM itself?

To save me time, I need a successful Disaster Recovery test on my first try...  Any tips you can give that can guide me to success would be very apreciated.
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Kini pradeepPrincipal Cloud and security consultantCommented:
I would recommend backing up the volume on the Exchange server, the reason is backing up the Virtual machine will not provide a 100% reliable restore.

to understand this let us take an example ... if user A reports loss of emails or mailbox corruption, then using a VM backup you can restore the entire exchange server. and the user gets his emails/ access to mailbox from the last backup. however other users will be setback to the changes taken during the last backup... although you may still restore the VM to an alternate location and extract the database, create RSG etc it would be time consuming.

If you backup the volume on the exchange server then you may easily create a Recovery storage group and extract emails/ mailboxes etc. having said that I would recommend a mix of both VM & exchange Volume backup, while VM backup will safeguard against issues at the OS Exchange server , volume backup will help with recovering emails/ mailboxes etc ..

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KCU1Author Commented:
When you refer to backing up "the volume", do you mean the entire system drive?  Isn't that the same as backing up the entire VM?

Or are there a set of directories that only backs up Exchange?
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KCU1Author Commented:
Ok.  For the record, I tried a disaster recovery today after upgrading to SP3 and installing the rollup for SP3, ran a backup from the Hyper-V host... Then I selected to recover only the virtual machine vhd...

The restore was successful, and everything appears to work!  I now have a backup that I can use to recover from hardware failure.

Thanks for all your advice.  It saved me a great deal of time not having to do this through trial and error.
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KCU1Author Commented:
I have one last question though...  In order to backup the "volume", what exactly is it that needs to be done so I can restore an individual mailbox rather than the entire server (like the Kprad's example above)?  Is there a link that helps describe that process?
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Kini pradeepPrincipal Cloud and security consultantCommented:
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