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Exchange Backup Best Practices FAQ

Question) How do I get a successful seed (first) backup of a Microsoft Exchange database?

Answer) A successful initial backup is EXTREMELY important, see this FAQ: Ensure Successful Exchange Backups The First Time

Question) If I don't use In-file-delta together with the Exchange server backup, will the entire database be resent every time the backup runs?

Answer) Yes, if the In-file Delta module is disabled for the Exchange server backup set, a full database will be uploaded every time the backup job processes.

Question) Is it safe to run a full database backup once a week and a transaction log backup every day? If I initiate a full database backup on Friday and had a data failure event on Wednesday, can I restore the changes from each day with only the transaction log files?

Answer) That very much depends on the environment of the Exchange server in concern.

In a small office environment with a relatively small numbers of messages passing through the system, a daily full database backup will provide good data protection and the quickest recovery objective. When log file growth becomes an issue, you can consider using incremental database backups at midday to provide an added recovery point and to manage the log file growth.

On the other hand, in a larger office environments, incremental database backups should be used to provide more frequent recovery point options throughout the week and to manage log file growth. Many of our partners perform full database backups on a weekly basis, preferring to run incremental database backups throughout the week to keep backup runtime to a minimum.

A disadvantage with this backup technique occurs at recovery time when you must not only recover from the full database backup but from each incremental backup as well. What will work best would be to base the backup process based on the size of your exchange environment, number of transactions processed per day, and the expected recovery time objective.

Yes, you will be able to restore the changes needed, with the transaction log backup along with the full database file required.

Question) If I use In-File-Delta incremental backup and choose to do a new full backup once every two weeks. How long will it take for the backup to restore if I have a data failure event after one full backup and 13 incrementals?

Answer) The restore speed actually depends on multiple factors:

  • Internet connection speed
  • Hardware specification of the backup software client machine
  • Disk specification of the backup software client machine
  • Number of delta (changes) to be merged
  • Amount of memory (Java heap size) available
  • Restore destination, is it a network drive or local drive

We do suggest using differential backups, in between full and incremental backups, to decrease the time required if a restore of the database is needed.

Question) Is it safe to use In-File-Delta? Is the chance for a corrupt database higher with the use of In-File-Delta?

Answer) It is absolutely safe to utilize the In-file Delta module when performing Exchange database backup. When an Exchange database backup is performed, backup software first issues a command for the Exchange server to spool the database file to a temporary directory. We have not seen any cases where the database file gets corrupted because of the use of In-file Delta.

Question) What are the recommended settings for a an Exchange server backup?

Answer) We have the following recommendation on Exchange server backup:

  • Full backups are performed as frequently as possible, with frequent differential and incremental backups in between each full backup
  • Disable Circular Logging on the information store, this allows for more precise control over the Information Store recovery process
  • Isolate Exchange information store backup jobs. This will be helpful for troubleshooting potential issues and recovering store data
  • Allow sufficient disk space for maintenance and recovery procedures
  • Make sure the information store maintenance process is not running at the same time as the database backup
  • Monitor the Application and System Event Logs for relevant events which may affect Exchange server functionality

Question) Should I use the Microsoft Exchange Mailbox module in addition to the Microsoft Exchange  module?

Answer) It depends on the requirements and recovery time objective of the client environment. Below is information regarding our Microsoft Exchange Backup module and Microsoft Exchange Mail Level Backup module:

MS Exchange Backup module: By backing up the MS Exchange server using the backup software Exchange Backup module, it allows you to recover your database in the event of a disaster, as well as allowing you to restore all mailboxes (at once).

MS Exchange Mail Level Backup module: By backing up the MS Exchange server using the backup software Exchange Mail Level Backup module, it allows you to restore individual mailboxes or messages. This is the only way to perform individual mailbox restores, as an Information Store restore would restore all mailboxes as part of the database restore. However, by only performing backup to the Exchange server with the mail level module, it would not be possible to recover your database in the case of disaster. Mail level backup is only supplementary to Database level backup, but it could never replace it.

In other words, an Exchange server-level backup is required for full server protection in all cases. Mail Level Backup is always setup as an additional backup set offering more granular backup and restore of exchange mailbox data.

Why do I not see the transaction log backup option in the backup software client on Exchange 2010?

The log backup still exists, but they are now called incremental/differential backups.
Incremental - Backup of the transaction logs to record changes since the last full or incremental backup and then truncates the transaction logs.

Differential - Backup the transaction logs to record changes since the last full or incremental backup and does not truncate the transaction logs.

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