HOWTO: Backup Exchange Server

Summary: This tutorial explains how to use BackupAssist's ZIP engine to perform live backups of a Microsoft Exchange Server (2000, 2003, and 2007) using the Microsoft VSS writer in Windows.

To backup an Exchange Server from a Windows Server 2008 machine you need an Exchange-aware backup application that supports the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer for Exchange.

BackupAssist's Rsync, File Replication and Zip Engines all have the ability to notify VSS aware applications that a backup is about to take place, including Exchange 2003 and 2007. BackupAssist will:

  1. Perform a consistency check on the Exchange databases

    Exchange consistency check
  2. Correctly prune the Exchange logs after the backup is complete

This functionality enables you to correctly backup your Exchange databases, and any other VSS aware applications (like Hyper-V, SharePoint and SQL 2008). The following instructions outline how to setup a Zip Engine backup of your Exchange Server using the VSS writer in Windows.

Note: if you are running Windows Small Business Server 2003 the Exchange 2003 VSS writer is not enabled by default. To enable the VSS writer, follow these instructions.

  1. Download and install the BackupAssist free trial: http://www.backupassist.com/download.
  2. Launch BackupAssist, click File > New backup job and select Zip under ‘File backup’.

    Select Zip

  3. Select the appropriate backup destination and click Next.
  4. Select an appropriate schedule and click Next.
  5. Configure your backup device settings and click Next.
  6. During the Files and folders step make sure you select the Exchange directory where mail data is stored. For Exchange 2003 this is typically the C:\Program Files\ExchSvr\MDBDATA folder, and for Exchange 2007 it is typically C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\Mailbox, which contains the First Storage Group and Second Storage Group folders:

    Exchange folder selection

  7. Complete the remaining steps of the BackupAssist job creation wizard and click Finish.
  8. You now need to enable the VSS writer in your job configuration. To do so click Edit from the top menu, select your newly created Zip backup job and click Open files from the left menu:

    Rsync VSS writers for application backup support

  9. Check the “Enable VSS writers” checkbox.
  10. If you want to prune (truncate) the Exchange logs, select the “Full” option immediately below, otherwise, select “Copy”, which will leave the logs in place.

Restore options

When backing up your Exchange Server using the ZIP engine with VSS writers enabled you have the following options when it comes to restoring your Exchange Server:

  1. Restore individual information stores over your existing stores by stopping the relevant store, and copying back the entire directory from your backup.
  2. Restore to a recovery storage group by following these instructions

    Note: these instructions refer to restoring from an Image backup, rather than a Zip backup. The restore process, however, is essentially the same.