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  • Exchange system backup using Acronis True Image

    Hi, I plan to use Acronis True Image Enterprise Server to backup my Exchange (2003) system partition (online backup). I've explore Acronis documentation and forum (maybe I'm missed...) about it but only found a documentation about Exchange database backup issue where we've to stop Exchange services to be able backup the data using their software.

    Does imaging technology have any issues with Exchange system backup? Do I've to stop Exchange services before the backup process in order to have the system work after restored in case of failure?

    Please advice.

    Regards,

    Acung

  • #2
    Re: Exchange system backup using Acronis True Image

    Image based backup for Exchange is a poor idea.

    There are a number of reasons for that.

    1. With some of the tools you have to stop Exchange.
    There is no good time to stop Exchange as it is designed to run 24/7. During the night it is doing internal maintenance.

    2. It isn't an Exchange aware backup.
    Unless things have changed recently, it isn't an Exchange aware backup, so doesn't flush the transaction logs and mark the database as being backed up.

    3. It is a snapshot, reducing your restore options.
    If you take an image backup at 3am, then the next night your server fails at 2am and you restore your backup - what happens to everything that occurred in the previous 23 hours? For most companies the most valuable email is what has been received in the last 24/48 hours. You have just wiped all of that out.

    Are you going to replay the transaction logs?

    If you aren't doing an Exchange aware backup then your transaction logs will be building up. What I see happen most frequently with people who do not do Exchange aware backups is that they turn on circular logging. That deals with the transaction logs that they believe they don't need and saves the space.

    With a good traditional backup and good quality hardware using RAID arrays etc, the value of an image based backup for Exchange is very small. While I can see the appeal, it isn't something I do as a rule for any of my clients.

    Simon.
    --
    Simon Butler
    Exchange MVP

    Blog: http://blog.sembee.co.uk/
    More Exchange Content: http://exchange.sembee.info/
    Exchange Resources List: http://exbpa.com/
    In the UK? Hire me: http://www.sembee.co.uk/

    Sembee is a registered trademark, used here with permission.

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    • #3
      Re: Exchange system backup using Acronis True Image

      I'm asking this question because I've read an article about using imaging software to backup Exchange is the quickest (not the best) way to restore the system in case of failure, of course data backup included in the recovery procedure (http://www.lanarchitect.net/Articles...very/index.htm) so your concern about the newest data can be eliminated because it's already covered. Previously our user's data stored in pst file but since a month ago we've centralized the data in Server and it became more important for us to be able restore the system (and data) in case of failure. For data backup, will purchase ARCserve Agent for Exchange since we already have the main module and for the system backup still on review. Could you please suggest for the best DRP for Exchange base on your experiences?

      Thanks in advance.

      Regards,

      Acung
      Last edited by lzd212; 5th June 2007, 05:00.

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      • #4
        Re: Exchange system backup using Acronis True Image

        Why do you think that newest data is covered with what you have outlined?
        Exchange 2003 doesn't have any form of log shipping. Therefore to restore the database in the event fo a failure you are reliant on the transaction logs.
        If you restore an image you will wipe out those logs.

        There is a element of the IT industry who think that imaging is the way to backup everything... the same elements also seem to think that virtual machines should be used for everything.
        I don't subscribe to either for Exchange.

        There is no one disaster recovery plan for everyone, as it very much depends on what you are planning for and how long you can afford to be down. The longer you can be down the cheaper it becomes.

        At a minimum the server should be on multiple hardware arrays, with hot swap everything and backed up every night (full backup, not incremental or diffs) using an Exchange aware backup application.
        The domain controller should also be backed up, particularly the system state.
        A tape should be stored off site.
        On some sites I have gone as far as having a copy of the installation media stored off site as well.

        Simon.
        --
        Simon Butler
        Exchange MVP

        Blog: http://blog.sembee.co.uk/
        More Exchange Content: http://exchange.sembee.info/
        Exchange Resources List: http://exbpa.com/
        In the UK? Hire me: http://www.sembee.co.uk/

        Sembee is a registered trademark, used here with permission.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Exchange system backup using Acronis True Image

          You definitely do not have to stop Exchange to do the backup with Acronis, and the current version supports VSS. We do a full TrueImage backup of our Exchange 2003 server nightly with incremental images every 4 hours during the day. These images go to a separate system which is backed up to tape every night. If just the mail server fails during the day, we can restore from the previous night's image plus whatever incrementals we have locally on the storage appliance. We do this regularly for our disaster recovery drills off-site, restoring to different hardware (HPs here, Dell systems at the DR site) as we have their Universal Restore Option for all of our servers. Local recoveries to repaired equipment are a snap.

          I have to say our semi-annual DR drills were never much of a success until we went with Acronis TrueImage. We'd tried Novaback, ArcServe and BackupExec (BE we still use for a couple of systems, including just the Exchange store as a secondary backup).

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          • #6
            Re: Exchange system backup using Acronis True Image

            Hi all, sorry for the late reply....very busy with AV problem in our Mail Server (false positive issue) during this week...even the vendor Technician not able to solve it yet....

            Hi Phersey, thanks for sharing....
            Could you please share your DRP for Exchange using ATI?
            What I've planned is using a method provided by George Ou and having additional data backup.

            To Sembee:
            Quote "Why do you think that newest data is covered with what you have outlined?"

            I've missed this part from the article, of course I will have data backup using third party application (just purchase CA Brightstor ARCserve) for that point.
            What do you think about George article if I've additional backup for the data and moved the transaction logs to other partition? Does it will work?

            Please advice.

            Regards,

            Acung
            Last edited by lzd212; 13th June 2007, 02:40.

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