It is very important for any administrator to know how to backup and restore Exchange correctly. Backing up your Exchange server using the correct steps not only secures your data but also purges the transaction log files that Exchange uses.
In this article we are going to walk through the steps you would need to take to successfully backup your Exchange databases. We shall look at how to restore the information from a backup in a separate article.
Microsoft Windows 2000 comes with a utility that enables you to backup data and System State* information on that server. When you install Exchange 2000 onto the server, the Windows 2000 Backup utility is updated to support backing up and restoring Exchange data. The backup program now becomes “Exchange aware”.
Before we look at the way in which we backup Exchange, let’s quickly refresh on the architecture. Within Exchange we have: Storage Groups, inside the Storage Group we have Stores. Inside the Stores we then have either mailboxes or Public Folders.
Exchange 2000 Standard only has the ability to support one (1) Storage Group which can contain one (1) mailbox store and one (1) Public Folder store.
Exchange 2000 Enterprise can have up to four (4) Storage Groups and each Storage Group can support up to five (5) stores (either mailbox or Public Folder).
For each Storage Group in Exchange we have a corresponding set of Transaction Log files, these log files are extremely important and should never be deleted manually. The log files are 5Mb in size and your server can generate a large number of log files based on how many transactions it processes. The log files are used in the event that we need to perform a restore of the databases.
Backing Up Exchange 2000
As I mentioned earlier your server will have the Windows 2000 Backup utility already installed and because you have installed Exchange on the server the backup utility will now be “Exchange aware” and capable of purging the log files and backing up the databases whilst they are in use. You don’t have to stop any of the Exchange services when you are performing a backup. If you do stop the services you will be performing an “Offline” backup and this is not recommended because the services need to be running to purge the log files correctly.
1. Open the Windows 2000 Backup utility, Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools and select Backup
2. Select the Backup tab
3. Open the Microsoft Exchange Server list and expand the server that you want to backup.
If you want to backup the whole of the Information Store on the selected server you can simply check the box next to “Microsoft Information Store” or you can expand the “Microsoft Information Store” and select a particular Storage Group.
It is recommended that you backup a complete Storage Group, rather than the individual Stores, that way all the committed transaction log files will be purged. In the event that you need to backup an individual store you can simply click on the Storage Group name and select the Store you would like to backup from the right-hand pane.
4. Once you have made your selection of what you want to backup the next step is to configure where we want to backup the selection to. This could be to tape, to another hard disk, to a CD-RW or even to floppy disks if you have about 600 hanging around. To select the backup location using the “Backup media or file name” option at the bottom of the page. For this example I have selected to backup to my G: and use a filename of backup.bkf.
5. When you are ready to start the backup, click on the Start Backup button. The “Backup Job Information” dialogue box will now be displayed, click on the Advanced button and ensure the Backup type is set to “Normal”.
6. If we now proceed and click on the Start Backup button, the backup will launch and the information we selected will be backed-up to the location we specified. Once the backup is complete you will receive the “Backup Progress” dialogue box.
7. When your backup is complete, it is very important to review the backup report to ensure that everything went through OK - what’s the point of doing a backup only to find its no use when you need it! To review the backup report, click on the Report button in the “Backup Progress” dialogue box.
The above procedure discusses the way in which you should be backing up your Exchange Information Store using the built-in Windows 2000 Backup program on your Exchange server, but you also need to ensure you backup other critical information as well, backing up the System State and the IIS Metabase is as important as backing up the Information Store data.
You should ensure that you backup the System State on all of your Domain Controllers and your Exchange server regularly, I back mine up nightly as part of my normal backup routine.
Here are a few links to documents that I would recommend you read through to ensure you fully understand the backup/restore procedure for Exchange 2000 and Domain Controllers:
List of Approved Backup and AntiVirus Solutions for Exchange
Backing Up the IIS Metabase
How to Backup and Restore the Windows 2000 System State
How to Backup the System State of a Remote Machine
Disaster Recovery for Exchange 2000 (a MUST read)
Microsoft WebCast: Disaster Recovery for Exchange
So it’s as simple as that! In my next article we shall look at how to restore data from our backup in different scenario’s, but in the meantime backup, live long and prosper.
* System State data includes the registry, the COM+ Class Registration database and the system boot files. If the server is a Certificate Server then the Certificate Server database is also included in the System State. If the server is a Domain Controller then the System State will also include the SYSVOL directory and the Active Directory database.
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