Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 technologies have pushed the limits towards lowering expenses and increasing the options for dealing with high availability and data protection scenarios. Companies may now choose to enhance their backup procedures covering new high availability scenarios using the Database Availability Group technology. Others might consider not doing backups at all, using the Microsoft Native Data Protection technology i.e. running a Backup-less Exchange Organization.
In order to backup Exchange Server 2010, we will need an Exchange-aware backup application. We could use the Windows Server Backup included in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Operating Systems, Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010, or backup software from other vendors.
There are several important facts concerning Exchange Server 2010 backup to be considered:
Streaming backups are no longer supported, only Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS backups).
In Exchange 2010, Storage Groups don't exist anymore. Thus transaction logs are now associated with mailbox databases.
A mailbox database is no longer owned by an Exchange Server. Instead, it is now owned and managed from the Exchange Organization level.
We must include Domain Controllers in our Exchange Server backup strategies, since most of the Exchange Server configuration settings are stored in Active Directory.
It is recommended that we use more than one database for our mailboxes, in order to have a more efficient backup and restore strategy. Each database should contain mailboxes from users with common business needs, such as managers, finance, legal, etc.
Mailbox databases don't have size limitations, large mailboxes and databases are supported.
Exchange 2010 Standard Edition is limited to five databases whereas the Enterprise Edition is limited to one hundred databases. These may include both mailbox and public folder databases.
Installing Windows Server Backup
In order to backup Exchange 2010 with Windows Server Backup, we should install it locally on the Exchange Mailbox Server Role. This is included in both Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. In addition the installation of Windows Server Backup also requires the appropriate group membership, such as Backup Operators or Administrators group.
One way to install Windows Server Backup is using the Server Manager graphical interface as shown below. Please be aware that the command line tools in Windows Server Backup are not supported so we will not select these:
Windows Server Backup can also be installed using Windows PowerShell by executing the following cmdlets:
Performing an Exchange Server Backup
Let's open the Windows Server Backup console from the Administrative Tools Menu, and choose to perform backup once. (Note: In real-world scenarios we would schedule backup to run on selected days, for example every day or once a week, depending on our backup strategy).
From the backup wizard, we will select the option to perform a custom backup and select the logical drives where the database and transaction logs are located.
For example, to backup the mailbox database called Managers, we first have to know the exact location of the mailbox database as well as its associated transaction logs. Therefore we execute the following cmdlet at the Exchange Management Shell:
Get-MailboxDatabase -Identity Managers | ft edbfilepath, logfolderpath
The result is shown below:
As the cmdlet result shows, in this case we have to choose both drives E and F since the mailbox database is located on drive E and its associated transaction log files are located on drive F. The selection at the backup wizard is shown in the picture that follows:
In this window, we will choose Advanced Settings.
From the dialog that opens we choose the VSS Settings tab, and select VSS full Backup.
Next, we will specify the destination of the backup files. This can be a Local or a Remote shared folder. Of course, it is not recommended to perform a backup on the same volume where the database or transaction logs are located, since if drive failure occurs, the backup data would be lost too.
On the Specify Remote Folder page, under Location, we enter \\Backup-Server\Exchange Backup as the location where the backup files are to be copied, and choose Inherit in order to allow access to the backup data to all users having permissions over the folder. Thus permissions over this folder should be restricted to Backup Operators or Administrators only.
We click Next and at the confirmation page we click Backup.
When the Exchange database and transaction logs backup completes, we should see a message reporting successful backup, as shown below:
With this procedure, we have completed the mailbox database backup.
In this article you have learned how to backup the Exchange Server mailbox databases using the Windows Backup feature included in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. As from the next article part we will proceed with recovering deleted email items.