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VM Ware Snapshots and Exchange Server 2010

Posted on 2012-03-15
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Last Modified: 2012-03-19
I had a problem with Exchange 2010 crashing over the past week, brought a specialist in and fixed it.

In my ignorance, over that week, I took snapshots of the Exchange server a few times.  As a result, we are missing email for about 3 days.  The backup that I did during the affected times is corrupt.  

I have all of the snapshots that I took during that period.  Is there anyway to retrieve the missing emails from those snapshots?

Thanks in advance.

Michael
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Question by:crusade08
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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It's possible, but long. You cannot extract data from the snapshot.

But you could COPY your VM, and then rollback a snapshot, and then check Exchange 2010 database offline.

It's alot of work!

DO NOT REVERT TO A SNAPSHOT ON THE PRODUCTION SERVER, YOU WILL LOOSE ALL THE EMAIL SINCE THE SNAPSHOT!

HOW TO: Clone or Copy a virtual machine in VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESX/ESXi 4.x or ESXi 5.0
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 500 total points
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A snapshot is NOT a backup of a VM; that is a gross misconception.  

A snap shot is a way to preserve a point in time when the VM was running OK before making changes. A snapshot is NOT a way to get a static copy of a VM before making changes.  When you take a snapshot of a VM what happens is that a delta file gets created and the original VMDK file gets converted to a Read-Only file.  There is an active link between the original VMDK file and the new delta file.  Anything that gets written to the VM actually gets written to the delta file.   The correct way to use a snapshot is when you want to make some change to a VM like adding a new app or a patch; something that might damage the guest OS. After you apply the patch or make the change and it’s stable, you should really go into snapshot manager and delete the snapshot which will commit the changes to the original VM, delete the snap, and make the VMDK file RW. The official stance is that you really shouldn’t have more than one snap at a time and that you should not leave them out there for long periods of time. Adding more snaps and leaving them there a long time degrades the performance of the VM.  If the patch or whatever goes badly or for some reason you need to get back to the original unmodified VM, that’s possible as well.  

I highly recommend reading these 2 articles on VMware Virtual Machine Snapshots:

Understanding Snapshots - http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1015180
Snaphot Best Practices - http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1025279

Also check out the following Snapshot Articles by Eric Siebert

Pt.1- http://is.gd/Lajg4p
Pt.2- http://is.gd/NdKQWC
Pt.3- http://is.gd/tp2vEK
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