Exchange 2013 DAG with ShadowProtect


We use ShadowProtect Server for backing up all of our servers.  The product works great and has saved my butt plenty of times.  Our Exchange 2013 environment was recently upgraded from a single host running CAS/Mailbox to a three node DAG.  My question is if anyone else is using ShadowProtect to backup their Exchange server(s) (DAG), and if so, how are you handling backing up duplicate copies of the Exchange databases.

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Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
In a DAG, you don't need to backup the Exchange servers at all, and the database would only need to be backed up in one place. The role of the backup changes completely.

For example, if a member of a DAG was to fail, you wouldn't restore the complete server, because it would be out of date and would cause you more problems than it resolves. Restore the server using the Microsoft method (reinstall Windows, install Exchange with the recovery switch), then reseed the database.

Therefore a restoration would only be required for archival reasons, if at all. You would only need to take an Exchange aware backup of the active database at intervals - I have clients doing so anything from once a week to once a month. Deleted Item Retention/Dumpster covers everything else.

JLLAuthor Commented:

The logic definitely makes sense.  My thoughts are to go ahead and backup the OS volume for both nodes in the DAG, however only backup the databases for only one of the servers.  This way, if one of the DAG members crash, we can restore the OS instead of building it from scratch.  If for any reason we do need the databases, we'll at least have access to them.

Does that sound about right?  Or, do you recommend we reinstall Windows OS and Exchange from scratch and use the recovery switch?

Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
I wouldn't even do that.
Image based backups have no place in an Exchange backup routine.
The bulk of the Exchange configuration is held in the domain - therefore you only have to install Windows and then Exchange using the recovery switches.

You shouldn't try and shortcut Exchange recovery, it will cause you more grief than it saves.


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JLLAuthor Commented:

Understood!  It is definitely a new way of performing a full server recovery of an Exchange server and worth testing.  Thank you for the information.
Simon Butler (Sembee)ConsultantCommented:
It isn't a new way.
That has been the preferred way for Exchange since at least 2003.
If you have been using image based backups and haven't seen problems, then you have been very lucky, as they are NOT a recommended or supported method for backup/recovery of Exchange. Exchange is a "living" product, it is making constant changes to the AD domain. Therefore image based backups are not suitable because they are out of date almost immediately.

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