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Back up Exchange 2010 on Server 2008

Posted on 2011-09-06
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
We migrated a customer to Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010 about 2 months ago. Everything has settled down enough for me to start addressing the need to backup Exchange.
Last week I used Windows Server Backup to backup C:\Program Files\MicorsoftExchange Server\V14\Mailbox to a network drive. It ran for 23 hours. When I checked the properties of the databases (active and archive) in EMC neither showed having been backedup and the log files in the Mailbox folder weren't committed.
This last Friday, I ran backup again, this time backing up the entire C: drive to the network drive. It ran for 26 hours but still did not "back up" the databases nor commit the log files.
We don't have an extra drive on the server that hosts Exchange so this Friday we plan to backup the C: drive to a folder on the C: drive - I'm leary about that.
Basic questions:
1)     How do we back up Exchange so that it recognizes that it was backed up and commits the log files? Is there something that we have to do in Exchange?
2)   If we install an additional drive on the server to be used for backup - what benefit from a disaster recovery perspective do we get from having the only copy of Exchange on a drive on the same box?
3)   Is there some economical third party software that provides the functionality that ntbackup provided on server 2003?
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Question by:YMartin
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by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 36489109
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by:YMartin
ID: 36490802
Yes, I followed the instructions in the first link exactly. I don't think that the second one applies as we don't have a DAG set up - much smaller scale. Everything is running on 1 physical server: Mailbox, Client Access, Hub Transport and Unified Messaging. No database accessibility group.
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by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 36490820
I would recommend purchasing a third-party solution Symantec BackupExec
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by:YMartin
ID: 36491564
I just checked out Symantec - expensive. Any suggestions on how to make Windows server backup work?
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by:lucid8
ID: 36497263
There are several options out there along with Symantec for less $$ and really the best thing to do IMO is to try a few out to see what works well for your situation.   Just do a Google search for something like "Exchange 2010 VSS backup with granular recovery" and you will see a few options to choose from
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by:YMartin
ID: 36497529
So, just to be clear -Is it the consensus of assembled experts, gurus, wizards, etc that Windows Server Backup can't be made to work?
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by:lucid8
ID: 36497690
1. It certainly can be made to work but its fairly rudimentary and can be more difficult to manage then a 3rd party product.

2. I would not recommend that you make your backups to the C drive since if you run out of disk space you will be toast :-(

3. You may want to consider putting in an additional hard drive just for backups which may or may not solve your current issue, however, it will be much safer regardless of the end solution.

BTW

A. How big is the current EDB and Log set?
B. How big is the hard drive, and how much free space do you have?
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by:YMartin
ID: 36498408
The entire C: drive has about 300 GB and about 800 GB of free space. The customer is extremely remote and popping in another drive isn't going to happen in the near future. But I also can't think of any disaster recovery scenerio where backing up to a drive on the same physical box provides any benefit.
My short-term concern is that we migrated them from 2003 to 2008 over 2 months ago and despite backing up the Mailbox folder and the entire C: drive, Exchange doesn't recognize that it was backed up and we have 2+ months of log files. Eventually it will get inefficient enough for users to notice. Is there anything that has to be done to/with Exchange or in creating the backup task to trigger the consolidation? The step-by-step guides and YouTube video don't mention anything.
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by:lucid8
ID: 36498427
1. How big is he current EDB?
2. How big are the combined set of Logs for the last 2 months?
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by:YMartin
ID: 36498735
You have me outside my comfort zone here but .. The .edb file is 67 GB. The Mailbox Database folder that contains the .edb and I believe the logs is 233 GB.
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lucid8 earned 500 total points
ID: 36498960
Whoa, ok so I believe what you have going on then is wayyy to many log files and that's what's causing the extended backup time. So that said;

1. You can try to backup just Exchange and the logs as outlined within the articles above and then be really patient and hope that it completes although it may eventually fail

2. OR you can do the following;

A. Take the database offline - this will commit any uncommitted logs

B. Do a flat file backup of the EDB and logs while its offline   - This will give you a rollback position if needed for the future.

C. Bring the database back online

D. Turn on Circular Logging which will clear out all but a handful of logs http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd297937.aspx  NOTE: This will take the database offline and bring it back online

E.  Once the logs are cleared up TURN Circular logging off

F.  Now run the backup as outlined in the previous article and it should complete and truncate the logs.

NOTE: A&B are optional but recommended so that if you have something bad happen, i.e. disk failure during the process you have a rollback position, however that said they do take more downtime to accomplish so just consider all the variables and act accordingly
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by:YMartin
ID: 36503549
Lucid8:
Just want to clarify - when you say "take the database offline" - I'm interpreting that as dismounting the database. When I ran the suggestion by the boss, he wanted me to be absolutely certain about that.
Also, when we had this customer on 2003 and were backing the databse up daily; dismounting and remounting the database took 1-3 minutes. I'm thinking this amount of uncommitted log that it will probably take hours. Do you have any estimate of how long it will take?
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by:lucid8
ID: 36503752
1. Yes I mean dismounting

2. Unless there is a major issue i.e. logs have not been committed (which I doubt)  you really shouldn't have that many uncommitted logs since under normal conditions logs are committed i.e. each database transaction is written to a log file first and then to the database. When a log file reaches one MB in size, it's renamed, and a new log file is created. Over time, this results in a set of log files. If Exchange stops unexpectedly, you can recover the uncommitted transactions by replaying the data from these log files into the database.  So once the transaction has been logged, the data is written to the database when convenient(when the store process has time). However Until a transaction is committed to the database, it is available from memory and is recorded in the transaction logs.  This is one reason why you will see store.exe use large amounts of memory after the Exchange server has been in use for a while.  After an Exchange server is brought back up after a crash, the checkpoint file points to the last committed transaction in the transaction logs which are then replayed from that point on.  

So that said I have no idea how long it will take to dismount and remount the database but it shouldn't be a very long period of time assuming that your hardware is fairly robust but of course you should plan to do this when it will effect the least amount of users.  Also if you are going to backup the EDB and Log set while its offline that is going to take some time to accomplish so plan accordingly.
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by:YMartin
ID: 36522859
We bought an external hard drive and backed up to that. Backup was successful - again, but Database in Exchange still do not show that it has been backed up and log have still not been committed. From all of the Microsoft documentation that I reviewed as well as independent blogs, Exchange should be committing the logs and showing that the database was backed up. Is there some basic step in Server Backup or in Exchange that I missed?
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by:lucid8
ID: 36523626
did you try turning on circular logging to truncate the logs and then turning it off post truncation and trying to backup at that time?
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by:YMartin
ID: 36551214
Our customer bought an external drive and attached it to the server that hosts Exchange. When I used Windows Server Backup to back up to the external drive, it ran faster but Exchange still did not recognize that it had been backed up and did not committed the logs. I created a scheduled task to execute the backup and ran it the next night. That worked. Exchange committed the logs and the databases showed that they were backed up.
Windows Server Backup is a very buggy application.
But thanks for the help.
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by:lucid8
ID: 36551229
Excellent to hear it was resolved and thanks for the points
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