Restore completely failed Exchange 2007 with empty databases / mailboxes

Hi
As a part of DR testing, I went through a scenario where I wanted to bring my Exchange 2007 back ASAP so users can start sending and receiving emails. Only when the mail flow is restored, I can start restoring emails.
It's a one server deployment, so the only option is reinstallation with setup.com /m:recoverserver

I would like to get your opinions on it, maybe there is a better method of doing it. For me, the configuration stage took an hour which is acceptable in my environment.

Here is what I did:

1. restored my DCs (of course in real life situation, my DCs are still here)
2. reset my server's account
3. join a new server into domain (same network config)
4. reinstall exchange with /m:recoverserver
5. disable all users in Receipient Configuration / Mailbox
6. remove all database objects in Server Configuration / Mailbox, except for public folder
7. create a new DB
8. create a new mailbox for existing user.

Thats it. I was able to log in using OWA and send email.

What was surprising for me is that Public Folder database recreated itself on the same drive and path as on the old installation without me doing anything. I guess it would fail if I didnt recreate the same partition layout as on the old server.

Of course, there would be still a lot to do, like restoring emails, installing certificate, making sure public folder stuff is there, but to me, it looks promising.

Can you guys tell me if that would be a workable solution ? I know it's far from perfect, and there are much more clever ways of doing it but I really dont want to do any clustering with 2007 and when I will eventually move to 2013, I will probably use DAG.

Thanks
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tp-it-teamAsked:
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Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
There are different scenarios where Exchange has failed. If you do not plan on doing a cluster then for Exchange Server Recovery you can do what you have explained above. However if this is specifically does a database failure, then this is a completely different scenario and all scenarios need to be considered.

Typically you will want to use an Exchange Aware backup software to ensure that Exchange is backed up properly and can also be restored properly as well. There are a lot of Exchange Aware backup software even Free Windows Server Backup is Exchange Aware.

Will.
AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
Dial-tone db is one way to bring it up in production. However, you are looking for DR testing. In this case, you need to perform these steps:

1) If you have VM DC. Cold clone your DC. Shut it down, clone it and take that into DR site.
2) Change IP and force it to register using ipconfig /registerdns
3) Then seize and transfer FSMO to this server.
4) Clean up other name servers. If you have separate dns, by deleting it from DNS snap-in. Else skip it.
5) Now build your Exchange server in DR.
6) Reset server account in AD, join to the domain
7) Install all pre-requisite.
8) Install Exchange using recover switch
9) Once server is up, you can restore the database from backup or just create a dial-tone.
10) Test the result.

Note: You cannot mimic everything like production, however that's best you can do in test.

Let me know, if any further query.

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tp-it-teamAuthor Commented:
Thanks very much guys, I'm really glad you mentioned Dial-tone db recovery, I didnt know that term and it was quite a surprise for me that I could just mount not existing dbs to have them recreated. Thats a really fast way of restoring mailflow.
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