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Exchange incremental backups failing but full backups completeing without issue

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  • Exchange incremental backups failing but full backups completeing without issue

    Hi All

    I have a very strange problem that I was hoping to get some guidance on. Initially, I have an Exchange 2003 SP2 server sitting on Windows 2003 SP2. It has been running fine for the best part of 2 years but recently I have been seeing backup related issues.

    Initially, my Information Store mounts without issue and I am not seeing any event log failures relating to Exchange itself. Mail is being sent and received without issue. However, the problem comes when I perform backups.

    I am using a product named Attix 5 SE edition with an Exchange plugin. This performs nightly backups of our first storage group, performing a full backup on a sat evening and incremental backups every evening. Recently, my incremental backups have been failing whilst the full backups are working without issue. The error I get is the well known ESE error in the event log:

    Event Source: ESE
    Event Category: Logging/Recovery
    Event ID: 206
    Date: 15/01/2010
    Time: 15:59:10
    User: N/A
    Computer: OLYMPUS
    Information Store (8464) First Storage Group: Database C:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\mdbdata\priv1.edb cannot be incrementally backed-up. You must first perform a full backup before performing an incremental backup.

    The error in itself makes sense. The incremental backup sees some discrepancies in the last full backup and cannot perform a full backup. I then perform a full backup which works correctly, If I then perform an incremental backup immediately, it will work. However, the nightly incremental backups will then fail again.

    What I believe is happening is that the incremental backup sees that the exchange database has changed but such a change is not present in the transaction logs. Attix seem to share this belief. As a result, it always demands a full backup. However, I cannot seem to rectify the situation. I have forced full backups with NTBackup as well to see if this resolves the problem but while the full backup work, incrementals never will.

    At this point, I have to consider downtime for the exchange server and running eseutil.exe either to check the intergrity of the database with /k or /g, or eseutil /r for all the new transaction logs to be merged into the database. However, from what I can gather it looks like a change has taken place that isn't referenced in the transaction logs which causes the failure so doubt this would help. I would usually point the finger at dirty shutdown, but the information store mounts without issue.

    I am a little confused as where to go. Something related I believe to be worth mentioning - a mailarchiva box on our network that imports messages from the exchange information store (the same storage group as above) via webDAV seems to have stopped working so I am wondering if I am looking at a bigger exchange issues here. With a lack of any useful event logs I am a bit stuck.

    Any ideas?

    Many thanks in advance!


  • #2
    Re: Exchange incremental backups failing but full backups completeing without issue

    Within system manager, if you choose the properties for your server, on the general tab there is a remove logs check box. Is that checked with a low number on the "days older than" box?


    • #3
      Re: Exchange incremental backups failing but full backups completeing without issue

      Hi There

      Many thanks for the response. This option is not checked on my exchange box so it doesn't look like any of the transaction logs have been removed. If I do a full backup, all transaction logs are removed and the E00.chk seems to successfully move forward. However, any news transactions logs seem to be ignored by the backup software and the incremental backups fail. Circular logging is enabled.

      One thing that may be worth mentioning is that we did have a historical installation of BackUP exec 11D on this server which also did nightly incremental backups. These were performed at completely seperate times and therefore never conflicted. Backups had been worrking correctly for a year. As backup exec was backing up to tape and Attix backing up online, it seemed sensible to keep them both running. However, the tape drive recently had an issue causing the backup exec backup to fail. Nothing was reported in the event log relating to exchange, only backup exec and there being a bad block on the tape. For which reason, I am wondering if there was a flag left unchanged within exchange by backup exec that is causing this issue. However, I would expect a full backup to resolve it.

      Hope this answers your questions.

      Many thanks for you help.



      • #4
        Re: Exchange incremental backups failing but full backups completeing without issue

        Does sounds like the full backup isn't resetting the archive bits. However, unless you have restrictions on you preventing this I would switch to doing full backups every night anyway. Incrementals dramatically increase restore time, so if you've got the time window and the media space I'd do a full every night.

        I'd also turn off circular logging if possible, if you do a full backup every night they'll get flushed every night anyway.
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