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Disaster recovery tips for Domain controller when Exchange is present?

Hi guys,

I'm putting together a backup solution for our servers.

We have 1x server which is the dedicated domain controller and fileserver running Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition.

Another server is a dedicated Microsoft Exchange server running Windows Server 2008 R2 standard edition.

We currently use Crashplan for our backups, but it makes file-based backups only. It does not do bare-metal system images. It DOES use VSS to make a snapshot of the files it backs up so it will get all the open files, but they don't claim that it can make full images of the system and infact it skips the C:\Windows directory entirely.

If we lost the domain controller for some reason, how would be go about restoring from backup?

It's a small server, only 5-8 users, so reinstalling the OS and recreating the domain from scratch isn't a big deal... but I assume would detrimentally affect Exchange Server...?
Storage SoftwareWindows Server 2003Exchange

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Brad Bouchard

8/22/2022 - Mon


I would suggest the following:

Use a backup program such as Symantec Backup Exec to create backup of all your files. You would also have to  install the Backup Exec Exchange Agent, which will allow to backup and restore the Exchange databases.

The products mentioned above would just be used for data backup and not for restoring the operating system.

If your servers go bad, you would use a Disaster Recovery solution such as System Recovery Server Edition. This software allows you to create complete system images of your servers and even restore the server to dissimilar hardware.

So if you combine a backup solution with a disaster recovery solution your server can be operational again in minutes.

You don't have to use Symantec that was just a suggestion, since I have been working with it a lot. There is other good products out there such as Acronis.
Just make sure that the backup solutions can specifically backup and restore Exchange databases.

Hope this helps

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CyrRei88 - I'm fairly happy with CrashPlan to do file restores, but I think you're touching on the subject by differentiating between "Backup solution" and "Disaster Recovery Solution". Crashplan is handling the "Backup solution" part... but it's the Disaster Recovery part that I don't have.

I don't want to license any more backup software if necessary...

Here's an idea - if I used NT Backup to make a system state backup of the system to external hard disk, is that  combined with my Crashplan Backups enough for me to get the Domain Controller back to a working state (and also have my separate Exchange server be happy) if I were to lose the server? I'm getting the idea from this article here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc782127(v=ws.10).aspx

Granted you need to re-install the OS, but would the system state get all the settings (e.g. DNS, Active Directory, SQL server etc. back to working order?
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Actually after doing some reading I found out that crashplan wont be sufficient for backing up and restoring databases.


Here’s something to keep in mind. Restoring becomes an issue for SQL and Exchange. CrashPlan will back up files, as it sees them change. During a restore you’ll find many copies of your database and log files, and not know which log file goes with which database file. CrashPlan does not have agents for these types of applications. It simply backs up files on the drive, as they change. We overcame this limitation by scheduling NTBackup to back up the System State, and our database directories, for each server, every night. Then told CrashPlan to back up those backup files, and exclude the database directories. Upon a restore, you choose your most recent dump, then use NTBackup to restore the dump to the proper folder, mount your database, and you’re back online. Since CrashPlan de-duplicates data, only changed bits in the dumps get sent offsite. We may have a 40GB dump that builds every night, but only changed data is backed up.
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James Murphy
Brad Bouchard

I'll keep it simple:  Look into AppAssure (http://www.appassure.com/)

Let me know if you have any questions as that will be easier than typing a huge paragraph that will probably get overlooked.