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Exchange Server 2010 Native Data Protection - Part 1

Vladimir Meloski [MCSE, MCITP, MCT, MVP]

Vladimir Meloski [MCSE, MCITP, MCT, MVP] Photo

Vladimir Meloski is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Most Valuable Professional on Exchange Server. He is a consultant, providing unified communications and infrastructure solutions based on Exchange Server and System Center. Vladimir has been involved in Microsoft Conferences in Europe and US as a Speaker, Proctor for Hands on Labs and Expert.

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Exchange Server 2010 brings new features that allow companies to protect their emails without performing any backups. These features introduce the concept known as Exchange Native Data Protection, formerly known as Backup-less Exchange Organization.

Exchange Server 2010 brings new features that allow companies to protect their emails without performing any backups. These features introduce the concept known as Exchange Native Data Protection, formerly known as Backup-less Exchange Organization.

This article will describe how you can protect your data using Exchange Native Data Protection.

Important: Please note that Exchange Native Data Protection has requirements and recommendations that are not applicable to every company. In addition, experienced and qualified IT staff is required to deploy, maintain and monitor this type of organization.

One of the most important requirements is that companies should deploy a Database Availability Group DAG solution with at least three DAG members and three database copies of each database.

In order to protect the critical Exchange data, you should estimate the risks and develop an availability and recovery strategy for your organization. So let's see how we will address the following recovery operations using Exchange Native Data Protection:

  • Recover an email item
  • Recover a user mailbox
  • Recover a mailbox database
  • Recover a server

 

Recovering an Email Item

Configuring Email Item Retention

Since recovering an email item is the most common request from users, we start by describing how to protect and recover email items without performing a backup.

To begin we have to configure item retention. This feature has been already present in previous Exchange Server versions. Item retention can be configured at the mailbox database level or at the user mailbox level. Most commonly you will configure email item retention on the mailbox database, since this will automatically configure all user mailboxes in that database. You only configure email item retention on user mailboxes when you want to define exceptions, i.e. some users that will have different email item retention settings from the database settings.

Email item retention can be configured at the database level from the Exchange Management Console database properties:

Exchange Database Retention

The same settings may be defined using the Exchange Management Shell using:

Set-MailboxDatabase "Managers" -DeletedItemRetention dd.hh:mm:ss

The value is entered in the format dd.hh:mm:ss where d=days, h=hours, m=minutes, and s=seconds.

Deleted item retention can be set between 0 and 24855 days, where the default value is 14 days.

Email item retention per user can be configured using the Exchange Management Console from the user mailbox properties Mailbox Settings | Storage Quotas:

Exchange Mailbox Retention

The same settings may be defined using the Exchange Management Shell:

Set-Mailbox -Identity "Vladimir Meloski" -UseDatabaseRetentionDefaults $false -RetainDeletedItemsFor dd.hh:mm:ss

We will now describe how we can recover this item using Microsoft Outlook 2010 and Microsoft Outlook Web App OWA.

Restoring an Email Item - Outlook 2010

Let's assume that we have deleted an email item from our mailbox, and also deleted the same item from the Deleted Items folder.

Log on to your computer with your username and password and start Microsoft Outlook 2010. Click on the Deleted Items folder to verify that the email item is not in this folder. Then click on the Recover Deleted Items button as shown below:

Openning Outlook 2010 Recover

The Recover Deleted Items window will appear. Click on the item you want to recover and then click on the Recover button.

Recovering Outlook 2010 Item

The email item is now located again in your Deleted Items folder. Move the item in the folder where you want it to be stored.

Recovered to Deleted Items Folder

Restoring an Email Item - OWA

Log on to Outlook Web App using your username and password. Click on Deleted Items folder to verify that the email item is not in this folder. Right click on the Deleted Items folder in your mailbox and then click on Recover Deleted Items.

Openning OWA Recover

Click on the item you want to recover and then click on the Recover button as in the picture below. You may also right-click the item and then choose Recover from the menu.

Recovering OWA Item

Choose the folder in which you want the recovered email item to be stored, and then click Recover, as on picture below.

OWA Recover to Folder

After you complete this procedure, your email item is back in the folder where you chose to locate it.

Conclusion

Email item retention can be employed to protect our data, since deleted items may be kept for a long time. Combining retention with a DAG of at least three members, a failure of the database drive or failure of any hardware component or server, triggers a failover. This activates the database copy on another DAG member, so the email data will not be lost.

There is still a question. What if an email item is accidentally or intentionally deleted from the Recoverable Items folder? Join us in Part 2 of Exchange Native Data Protection where we will describe how to address this issue using the new Exchange 2010 feature called Single Item Recovery.

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