Exchange Server interaction with SBS 2003 Backup program (book excerpt)

We continue our journey into chapter five of Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best PRactices! I am the author of this *purple book* and I am posting up a few pages a days for your reading pleasure….let me know what you thinking. I believe giving is a good thing!

cheers…harrybbb

Harry Brelsford

CEO at smb nation, www.smbnation.com and a fellow Microsoft Small Business Specialists (SBSC)

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Exchange Interaction With SBS Backup

Later in this book in Chapter 11, you’ll complete the Backup Configuration Wizard to configure the backup capabilities in SBS 2003. So while I’m jumping the gun a little, let me share with you that you’ll affirm Exchange’s deleted item retention capability to store deleted e-mail. The default setting, which is actually in place before you run the Backup Configuration Wizard, is 30 days. (I’ll have you increase it to 60 days just to be extra safe.) This is a very useful approach for quickly retrieving a piece of e-mail that a user might have deleted (later in the chapter in the Outlook discussion I’ll share with you the procedure for this). The setting for deleted item retention is shown on the Limits tab of the Mailbox Store Properties screen (seen in Figure 6-7).

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Figure 6-7

Observe that the ability to recover deleted e-mails is much more “foreground” in SBS 2003 with its Exchange Server 2003 application. In the SBS 2000 era, this capability wasn’t as widely known and utilized.

BEST PRATICE: Interestingly, the deleted item retention setting that you can set via the Backup Configuration Wizard only applies to the Mailbox Store and not the Public Folder Store. The Public Folder Store is set automatically to seven days to retain deleted items. I recommend you set this to 60 days on the Limits tab of the Public Folder Store Properties screen. And why do I recommend that? Later in the chapter when we look more closely at Outlook 2003, you’ll see the crack SBS development team implemented two public folder objects based on the organization name you inputted during the SBS setup phase. Translation: You are being encouraged to use public folders for storing important information.

The backup store gets even more interesting when discussing Exchange interaction with the native backup program in SBS 2003. Essentially, what occurs

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is that the Shadow Volume Copy Restore capability in the SBS 2003 backup approach takes a two-second snapshot of the Exchange information store and then makes its backup from said snapshot. That allows Exchange to function without noticeable interruption.

BEST PRACTICE: Note that the SBS 2003 backup approach is not backing up Exchange at the “bricks” or mailbox level. For that form of backup, you might need some of the third-party backup software (provided by Veritas, Computer Associates), which I’ll discuss in Chapter 11. By the way, this whole discussion area of whether to use the native SBS 2003 backup program versus a third-party backup solution was asked in each city in the late 2003 SBS 2003 hands-on lab USA tour (a very common question).

But note that you can effectively simulate a really low-level backup capability (even lower than bricks level) by taking full advantage of the deleted item retention capability in Exchange to recover an individual piece of e-mail some 60 days out as discussed in the prior section.

A final point related to Exchange backup activity concerns Exchange transaction log growth. Without fail, I have client whom I hear from only when something goes wrong (and usually at all the wrong times like when I’m enjoying a sunny summer day off). One case related to Exchange shutting down and not allowing e-mails to be sent or received. Upon close examination, the culprit was excessive Exchange transaction log growth. What occurred was this el cheapo client wasn’t getting successfully backed up (and wouldn’t pay us for monitoring to know whether they were getting sufficiently backed up, etc.). When Exchange isn’t successfully backed up, it continues to build transaction logs that are basically 5MB in size each as a form of self-preservation. Not surprisingly, over the course of 300 days, with the logs growing in multiples of 5MB at a time, the system drive was consumed and it ran out of room. When Exchange tries to operate on a drive with less than 10MB free space, it shuts down. And that’s how this client learned they weren’t getting good backups: All of the disk space had been consumed by excessive Exchange transaction log growth.

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BEST PRACTICE: Don’t forget that you had the option to direct where the Exchange transaction logs should be stored when you initially ran the SBS 2003 Setup Wizard and viewed the Data Folders Redirection screen. But simply placing the Exchange transaction logs on a huge hard disk to let them grow like weeds is no substitution for having beautiful bona fide backups!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Exchange Server interaction with SBS 2003 Backup program (book excerpt)

  1. Harry Pearson

    Another good practice for exchange restoring is a tool called recovery manager for exchange.

    This tool has powerful search and item-level recovery of all exchange backup data like backup stores, mailboxes, particular PSTs, public folders with it’s hierarchies and Lotus Domino databases.

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