Recovering from a Disaster in an Exchange Server 2010 Environment : Recovering from a Complete Server Failure

2/11/2011 9:03:02 AM
Because hardware occasionally fails and, in the real world, operating systems do have problems, a server-recovery plan is essential, even though it might never be used. The last thing any administrator wants is for a server failure to occur and to end up on the phone with Microsoft technical support asking for the server to be restored from backup when no plan is in place. To keep from being caught unprepared, the administrator should have a recovery plan for every possible failure associated with Windows Server 2008 systems.

Restoring Versus Rebuilding

When a complete system failure occurs, whether it is because of a site outage, a hardware component failure, or a software corruption problem, the method of recovery depends on the administrator’s major goal. The goal is to get the server up and running, of course, but behind the scenes, many more questions should be answered before the restore is started:

  • How long will it take to restore the server from a full backup?

  • If the server failed because of software corruption, will restoring the server from backup also restore the corruption that actually caused the failure?

  • Will reloading the operating system and Exchange Server manually followed by restoring the System State be faster than doing a full restore?

Loading the Windows Server 2008 operating system and Exchange Server 2010 software can be a relatively quick process. This ensures that all the correct files and drivers are loaded correctly and all that needs to follow is a System State restore to recover the server configuration and restore the data. One of the problems that can occur is that, upon installation, some applications generate Registry keys based on the system’s computer name, which can change if a System State restore is performed.

Exchange Server 2010 has a setup /recoverserver installation option and does not need the server’s System State restore—just the original computer name and domain membership, as long as computer and user certificates are not being used. Using this switch also prevents the Exchange Server computer from creating the default storage groups and databases. This simplifies the process of restoring the server later.

The key to choosing whether to rebuild or restore from backup is understanding the dependencies of the applications and services to the operating system, and having confidence in the server’s stability at the time of the previous backups. The worst situation is attempting a restore from backup that takes several hours, only to find that the problem has been restored as well.

Keep in mind that if one is utilizing redundant systems with a DAG configuration, the decision of restore versus rebuild is almost entirely a question of which is faster. Environments not based on DAG are more dependent on the identity of the individual servers and tend to favor restores.

Manually Recovering a Server

When a complete server system failure is encountered and the state of the operating system or an application is in question, the operating system can be recovered manually. Locating the system’s original configuration settings is the first step. This information is normally stored in a server build document or wherever server configuration information is kept.

Because each system is different, as a general guideline for restoring a system manually, perform the following steps:

Install a new operating system on the original system hardware and disk volume, or one as close to the original configuration as possible. Be sure to install the same operating system version—for example, Windows Server 2008, Enterprise or Standard Edition.

During installation, name the system using the name of the original server, but do not join a domain.

Do not install additional services during installation, and proceed by performing a basic installation.

When the operating system completes installation, install any additional hardware drivers as necessary and update the operating system to the service pack and security patches that the failed server was expected to have installed. To reduce compatibility problems, install the service packs and updates as outlined in the server build document to ensure that any installed applications will function as desired. During a restore is not the time to roll out additional system changes. The goal is to get the system back online, not to upgrade it.

Using the Disk Management console, create and format disk volumes and assign the correct drive letters as recorded in the server build document.

If the server was originally part of a domain, join the domain using the original server name. Because many Windows Server 2008 services use the server name or require the service to be authorized in a domain, perform this step before installing any additional services or applications.

Install any additional Windows Server 2008 services as defined in the server build document.

Install Exchange Server 2010 using the same version of Exchange Server (Standard or Enterprise) that was originally installed. Apply any Exchange service packs and updates that were expected to be on the original server as well. When installing Exchange Server, use the setup /recoverserver installation process that will install Exchange Server but will not add new databases.

Restore Exchange Server data to the new server.

Test functionality, add this system to the backup schedule, and start a full backup.


If certificates were issued to the previous server, the new server must import the same certificates or enroll with the certificate authority (CA) for a new certificate before encrypted communication can occur.

  •  Sharepoint 2007: Add a Column to a List or Document Library
  •  Sharepoint 2007: Create a New Document Library
  •  Sharepoint 2007: Open the Create Page for Lists and Libraries
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Developments in High Availability (part 3) : Backup and restore
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Developments in High Availability (part 2) : Configuring a Database Availability Group & Managing database copies
  •  Exchange Server 2010 : Developments in High Availability (part 1) : Exchange database replication & Database Availability Group and Continuous Replication
  •  High Availability in Exchange Server 2010 : Exchange Server database technologies
  •  SharePoint 2010 : Cataloging the Best Scripts to Automate SharePoint Administration
  •  SharePoint Administration with PowerShell (part 2)
  •  SharePoint Administration with PowerShell (part 1)
  •  Sharepoint 2007: Approve or Reject a File or List Item
  •  Exchange Server 2007 : Configure the Client Access Server - Enable POP3 and IMAP4
  •  Exchange Server 2007 : Configure the Client Access Server - Enable and Configure Outlook Anywhere
  •  Exchange Server 2007 : Configure the Client Access Server - Create and Apply ActiveSync Mailbox Policies
  •  SharePoint 2010 : Understanding Windows PowerShell Concepts (part 3)
  •  SharePoint 2010 : Understanding Windows PowerShell Concepts (part 2)
  •  SharePoint 2010 : Understanding Windows PowerShell Concepts (part 1)
  •  Managing and Administering SharePoint 2010 Infrastructure : Using Additional Administration Tools for SharePoint
  •  Managing Exchange Server 2010 : Archiving and compliancy (part 3) - Discovery
  •  Managing Exchange Server 2010 : Archiving and compliancy (part 2) - Messaging Records Management
    Top 10
    The Hot Five – Q1 2013 (Part 2) - HTC 8X, Asus Padfone , Sony Xperia T
    The Hot Five - Q1 2013 (Part 1) : Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920
    DDMF DirectionalEQ Effect Plugin
    Four Of The Best Stereo Systems (Part 4)
    Four Of The Best Stereo Systems (Part 3)
    Four Of The Best Stereo Systems (Part 2)
    Four Of The Best Stereo Systems (Part 1)
    Steinberg Cubase 7 – The Fantastic Success (Part 1)
    Canon EOS C500 and EOS-1DC: 4K Cameras Now!
    Tips And Tricks To Set You Apart From The Tech Crowd (Part 7)
    Most View
    BenQ LR100 – This Will Leave You Perfectly Happy
    How To Buy…A Printer (Part 1)
    How To Get Rid Of Babylon Toolbar?
    Exploiting SQL Injection : Out-of-Band Communication
    Forget About the Perimeter
    Buying Guide: External hard drive - Buffalo DriveStation Velocity 2TB, Freecom Mobile Drive Sq 500GB & Iomega Mac Companion Hard Drive 2TB
    Nikon unveiled the 24-85mm lens designed for format FX and 18-300mm for DX
    Map Your Runs, Walks And Cycles With Endomondo
    iPhone 3D Programming : Blending and Augmented Reality - Blending Extensions and Their Uses
    SharePoint 2010 : Searching Through the API - The Search API
    Google Nexus 10 Review – Part 2
    Arbico Elite 7768 OCX - Great-Value Gaming Rig
    Corsair Nova 2
    Business Intelligence in SharePoint 2010 with Business Connectivity Services : Consuming External Content Types (part 3) - Business Connectivity Services Web Parts
    Wedge Mobile Keyboard And Touch Mouse for Windows 8
    Microsoft ASP.NET 4 : Using the SqlProfileProvider (part 3) - Profiles and Custom Data Types
    Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon Touch Ultrabook Review (Part 1)
    JavaScript Patterns : Essentials - Minimizing Globals
    Adobe Acrobat Pro XI - Significant Increase For PDF Management
    Aesthetix Calypso Light Preamplifier Review