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How to properly backup Exchange 2007

I'm using Backup Exec 2012 to backup my Exchange 2007 and before that, I used the Windows 2008 R2 built in backup. I always backed-up the whole thing but I think that doing it not only stresses the server unnecessarily, it is actually pointless. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Looking at countless web pages, I cant find the definitive answer for the following question.
What should I backup in Exchange 2007.
Some people mention system state, some people say C drive where others are saying to just backup Exchange folder in Program Files.
Can someone explain me what really needs to be backed up and for what purpose?

In my opinion I should only backup 2 things:

Microsoft Information Store - which will be an Exchange aware backup of my databases
System State - to restore some parts of Exchange configuration like OWA which is not stored in Exchange.

And that's pretty much it. Everything else is stored in AD.

It would be great if someone with Backup Exec experience (especially 2012 version) could answer these additional questions:

1. In the selection list for Exchange agent, I can see my physical drives, System State and Microsoft Information Store. Am I right thinking that just by selecting 'Microsoft Information Store' I will be able to do all types of restore of exchange data ? I mean, single items, whole mailboxes or whole databases. I don't have to include physical database folders in my selection list, right ?

2. I read about this and I would like to confirm it - if I will not restore my Exchange server using the AD stored data but I will just create a new one, am I right thinking that I can redirect the restore my whole databases into the new server ?

That is pretty much it. I will be really thankful for any comments, good tips, suggestions regarding Exchange 2007 backup.

Thanks
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tp-it-team
Asked:
tp-it-team
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2 Solutions
 
Iamthecreator OMAdministrateur Systeme et ReseauxCommented:
You need to backup only the Exchange Information Store
Even if you select the Exchange database files they will not be backed up as they are in use by the Exchange.
Use the GRT option to restore individual items from your exchange backups.
You cannot restore the Exchange from your AD backups, that is only for AD restores.
You can redirect individual items as well as databases to another server or RSG.
Refer to the following article and the BEWS ADMINSTRATOR'S guide (very detailed) for more information.
Best practices for Backup Exec 2012 Agent for Microsoft Exchange Server
http://www.symantec.com/docs/HOWTO74428
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Iamthecreator OMAdministrateur Systeme et ReseauxCommented:
How to restore to an Exchange 2007 Recovery Storage Group using the Exchange Management Console
http://www.symantec.com/docs/TECH51626
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tp-it-teamAuthor Commented:
What about other things, like C, Exchange folder, system state ?
Any advantages of doing backup of these items ?
What about restoring OWA configuration ?

Also, when looking into restore options from my previous, full backups, I noticed that I can actually restore individual db files, but when I look at these files, they are like 300 KB or something compared to their real size which is something like 50GB. What are they ? Are they used if I want to restore single, offline DB file ? Can I still do it without selecting physical files, just from Microsoft Information Store backup? For example, when I just want to restore a db to a folder, without having any working Exchange server to point the restore to.
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tp-it-teamAuthor Commented:
Also, I'm not talking about restoring Exchange from AD backup, I'm talking about the fact that almost whole Exchange configuration is stored in AD, so with healthy AD, I can use /m:RecoverServer switch.
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
If Exchange is not installed on a domain controller then you don't need system state.
Most things are stored in AD, and configuraiton outside of the database (such as OWA, SSL certificates etc) are best simply documented. It will be much quicker than trying to restore the data.

I don't backup any files on Exchange servers at all. Waste of time.

GRT (Aka brick level backup) I also consider a waste of time. Microsoft don't support that recovery method and will actually refuse to support you if you were to call in with a problem and they found you had restored data with that method.

Simon.
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tp-it-teamAuthor Commented:
OK, I'm really puzzled now. Sembee2, what would be your recommendation for Exchange backup then ? Just the Microsoft Information Store with GRT disabled using Backup Exec ? And no other files, system state etc ? Or perhaps I should just use Windows Server Backup to backup into HDD folder, and then use Backup Exec only to back up into the tape ?

What should I backup if I'm using Windows Server Backup ? Should I just select only .edb files specifically, or should I backup the whole folder where the storage group folders are with all the additional files, like logs?
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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
The Information Store alone is that is required to get your data back.
If you have Backup Exec, then use that. if you haven't bought it, then there are other options which are much cheaper and do the same job.

Simon.
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