Exchange Server 2007 : Backup and Recover Data (part 1) - Backup and Recovery with Server 2003

1/16/2011 3:19:19 PM
Problem : Knowing you need a daily, weekly, and monthly backup of your Exchange environment should encourage you to look at third-party solutions that might provide more than the basics. However, if the basics are all you are interested in, Microsoft provides a backup solution within your Windows Server 2003 that is prepared to handle Exchange when you install Exchange 2007. Server 2008 actually doesn’t provide that capability. Let’s consider how to back up and restore data using the provided tools.

Solution : NTBackup is a tool that has been included with Windows Server since NT 4.0. However, this product is discontinued after Server 2003 and now with Server 2008, we have Windows Server Backup. This cannot be used to obtain backups of Exchange. Let’s first look at Server 2003 and performing backups with the NTBackup utility, and then discuss options for Server 2008.

If you obtain Small Business Server 2008, which includes Exchange 2007, you actually can obtain backups of your Exchange server with the Windows Server Backup tool.

Backup and Recovery with Server 2003

NTBackup performs a streaming backup (not a Volume Shadow [VSS] backup, which we discuss shortly). It can back up only the local system that Exchange is running on (as opposed to backing up remote Exchange servers). It can back up to a network share, though. So, if you have multiple Exchange servers, you can back them up to a network share and then use software that can back up the shared location.

Using NTBackup to Back Up Your Data

To use NTBackup to back up your data on Server 2003, perform the following:

Select Start, Run, and type ntbackup.exe.

There is a Wizard Mode that you can use, but it isn’t for Exchange admins. Select the Advanced Mode link.

You are on the Welcome tab. Select the Backup tab.

Click the plus sign to expand the information beneath the Microsoft Exchange Server option.

If you expand the settings, you see the Server, Information Store, and then the various storage groups, as you can see in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Working with NTBackup.

Select individual storage groups or all of them.

In the Backup media or file name, type the path.

Select the Tools menu option and click Options. Confirm that the backup is Normal.

Click Start Backup.

Before the job begins, you are shown the Backup Job Information. You can change the backup description, or determine how you want the backup to perform when it comes to the media already having backups. You can choose Append This Backup to the Media or Replace the Data On the Media With This Backup. You can establish a label for media that is overwritten by the backup.

Choose Advanced and verify the data of the backup.

Click Start Backup.

When the backup completes, you can view the detailed report or click Close.

Typical Backup Types

When performing the backup with NTBackup, we checked to see that the backup was normal. There are different backup types we might decide to use. Some backup solutions might work with a reduced backup window (where you have a short amount of time to back up the data and lots of data to back up). Other solutions might work when you have a need to restore quickly.

Backup types include the following:

  • Full— A full backup backs up your Exchange storage groups and databases and all transaction logs associated with the databases. It then purges the transaction logs from the database. If possible, you should always run full backups because they provide the fastest restore from a failure. If you perform full backups and the server needs to be restored, simply restore the latest full backup. For many, this isn’t a possibility and so it is recommended that you at least perform one full backup a week.

  • Incremental— These back up the changes that are made to a database and back up the transaction logs and purges them. The incremental backup backs up only the changes made since the last full or last incremental backup. So, every day the incremental backup takes a relatively short period of time to perform and remains somewhat consistent in that. However, as the week progresses, if the server requires a restoration, you need to restore the last full backup and each incremental backup since that time. So, it is a shorter backup process but a longer restoration.

  • Differential— These back up the changes made to the database since the last full backup. The transaction logs are not purged using this type of backup, and throughout the week, the backup takes a little longer each day. However, in the event of a restoration, you need only to restore the last full backup and the last differential backup. So, you have a shorter restoration period if you use differential backups.

How do you structure your backup schedule? That depends upon many things, and you have to consider your own environment. Can you perform nightly full backups? Or do you perform a full backup on Sunday night and incremental or differential backups throughout the week?

When do you perform your backups? Have you considered alternative solutions to your backup media type? Are you using tape? Would it be faster if you backed up to disk and then performed a backup of your backup (which you can perform any time because users are not directly accessing it) to tape that you can take off-site?

Have you considered a third-party solution that uses improved methods over NTBackup, such as VSS ?

Using NTBackup to Restore Your Data

You might need to use that backup to restore a database. There are times when the entire server might have crashed or the disk itself has crashed, or perhaps you have simply had a corruption of the database. In the latter, the simplest of scenarios, your Exchange server is still up and running and the disks seem to be functioning, but you need to restore the database. To restore a database from your backup, perform the following:

Open the EMC.

From the Navigation Tree, expand the Server Configuration work center and click Mailbox.

Select Mailbox Server from the Results pane.

Select the storage group with the database you want to restore.

Select the database, and from the Actions pane, click Properties.

From the General tab, select the option This Database Can Be Overwritten by a Restore. Click OK.

From the EMC, select Dismount Database from the Actions pane for that database.

Although the database is dismounted, open your NTBackup application (Start, Run, NTBackup.exe).

Select the Restore and Manage Media tab.

Locate the storage group with the database you want to restore, as you can see in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Performing the restoration process.

Click Start Restore.

You are presented with the Restoring Database Store dialog. You can restore to another server, but in this case, you are restoring to the same server, so you can leave the server you have or click Browse to locate the other server.

You can provide a temporary location for log and patch files.

To get your database up and running quickly, select the Last Restore Set (Log File Replay Will Start After This Restore Completes) and then also check Mount Database After Restore, which will become available after you click the former.

When you are ready, click OK.

You can watch the restore progress, and when complete, you can view the detailed report or click Close.

The Server 2003 backup application works for these local streaming online backups. However, they don’t provide VSS copies and they aren’t included in Server 2008.

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