Monday, November 20, 2006

Exchange Server Backup: Using Windows Native Backup

Here is the first of John Best's Exchange Server tutorials. John is DTI's Exchange Data Recovery Chief Engineer. Learn more about John and DTI at our Data Recovery Software Blog.
This first post is on how to use Native Windows backup to backup your Exchange Server.


This article describes how to back up your Microsoft Exchange 2000 or later database using Microsoft Windows Backup Utility. In my line of work, I see far too many exchange servers that have absolutely no back up strategy in place. Out of all the corrupt databases I recover, virtually every recovery could have been avoided if the administrator would have set up an automated backup that ran nightly

Windows 2000 and 2003 Server include a backup utility that becomes updated and capable of performing an online exchange backup after Exchange 2000 has been installed. Backing up your exchange database also flushes transaction logs that have been committed to the database, freeing up disk space. Each transaction log is 5 megabytes and exchange can generate a lot of them depending on how many transactions are taking place. I have seen exchange servers with thousands of unneeded log files. It is extremely important that these log files are not deleted manually. Allow the backup program to flush them.

To backup your exchange server:

1. Click Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > and click Backup
2. If backup starts in wizard mode, select advanced.
3. Click on the Tools tab and select “Backup Wizard”
4. On the Welcome screen, click Next
5. Choose Back up selected files, drives, or network data

exchange backup

6. On the Items to Back Up screen, click the plus sign next to Microsoft Exchange Server, then on the name of your server, and then click your storage group (which is named First Storage Group by default).

exchange server backup wizard1

7. Here you should see the Mailbox store and Public Folder Store are both selected.

exchange server backup wizard 1

8. After clicking next, you will see the Backup Type, Destination, and Name screen. Here you can choose to backup to a device such as a tape drive or to a file as I have chosen here:

exchange server backup wizard 2

9. Click Next.

10. On the Competing the Backup Wizard window, you could click finish to start the job right away. But for this guide we will choose the Advanced button.

exchange server backup wizard 3

11. Be sure the type of backup is set to Normal. Click Next.

exchange server backup wizard 4

12. On the next window you will choose to either append or replace. Keep in mind that if you choose append, the file may grow very large on an automated schedule. If you choose replace, the file will be completely overwritten. I normally choose replace and then setup two alternating backup jobs. This way, I always have a backup file if the server crashes during a backup.

exchange server backup wizard 5

13. Click Next.

14. On the next screen we can choose to run the backup now or schedule it for later. Choose Later.

exchange server backup wizard 6

15. Give the backup job a name. Then click the Set Schedule button. The schedule job settings window appears. You could set your backup to run every weekday at night or whenever works best for you.

16. Click OK.

exchange server backup wizard 7

17. We should be back to the When to Back Up window. Verify the correct start date and click Next.

exchange server backup wizard 8

18. It will then ask you for the proper credentials that this job will run under. Be sure to use an account that has administrative permissions.

19. Click OK.

exchange server backup wizard 9

20. On the Completing the Backup Wizard screen, click Finish to schedule the backup job.

21. Verify the job has been set to run by clicking Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > and Scheduled Tasks.

22. You should see your task scheduled with the dates and time to run.

23. You can check on your backup jobs by opening the Backup Utility and going to Tools > Report to view the details of each job. Also check your backup directory to make sure the backup file has been created and the modified date is set to the last backup day.

It is not enough to just create the backup job and trust it will run forever. You need to constantly check that your backup is running. You should also check your event viewer logs to make sure there are no problems occurring during the backup.

exchange server backup wizard 10

This guide is a very simple backup strategy intended for administrators that currently have NO backup strategy in place. Any backup is better than NO backup. I highly recommend that in a mission critical environment, better backup software be purchased and a better backup strategy using both tapes as well as backup files be put into place.

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