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Old 11-24-2012, 08:53 AM   #1
Oyeve
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Default exchange 2003 server died whilst on vacation

So, I finally took a vacation and the worse case scenario happened. The vm server that had my companies exchange decided to have 2 out of three hard drives die and is now totally useless. So when I get back I have tl figure stuff out. I will have emails remote forward to some third party email system. But I need to get us back on exchange. We had exchange 2003 running in a vm . Can anyone point me to a site that has an easy guide path? I can't really research while on vacation using my phone.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:08 AM   #2
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Restore a backup of the VM to another server.

You do have a backup.... right?
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:15 AM   #3
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Were your mailbox stores also running in a VM?
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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No backups and the mailbox store was on the vm. Wasn't my design, I inherited it. Was planning on a whole new system when I got back from vacation but nope.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:16 AM   #5
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No backups and the mailbox store was on the vm. Wasn't my design, I inherited it. Was planning on a whole new system when I got back from vacation but nope.
No backups of a server you support? Your vacation might end up being much longer than you expected

If you're using Exchange, I assume you're also using Outlook, hopefully in cached mode. In that case, people's mailboxes will be cached on their local machines, and you'd be wise to get an immediate backup of as much of that data as you can.

As for restoring service, it doesn't sound like you're going to get that Exchange 2003 VM back, nor does it sound like it was an integral part of your IT infrastructure. In that case, rather than building a new system, I'd recommend outsourcing your Exchange services to a provider that has the resources to support it properly. Microsoft Office 365 would offer the easiest migration path, but you may want to look at other services as well, like Google Apps.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:01 AM   #6
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I dont care if you inherited it or not - if your the admin for your company, IMO, backups are number one priority. The main advantage that virtualization provides is ease of backups.

On a different note - i would definitely consider hosted email. Might sound expensive but to me, hosted is a good choice for most companies. Either google or hosted exchange
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:37 AM   #7
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Wow no backup? That's the number 1,2,3 etc rule!! How long have you been the admin?
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:49 PM   #8
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Exchange is pretty easy to set up, and if you were running in cached mode on the clients you could reimport the OST files that Outlook uses for caching.

Depending on how many users you have, it might not make sense to redeploy a full, local Exchange server, especially since it sounds like you're not all that interested in supporting it. You might consider a Hosted Exchange service. They're relatively inexpensive, and Exchange 2010 is awesome in multi-tenant mode.
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:01 PM   #9
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No backups and the mailbox store was on the vm. Wasn't my design, I inherited it. Was planning on a whole new system when I got back from vacation but nope.
So let me get a bead on this caller. You had a running Exchange 03 server. In a VM.

Why exactly didn't you backup or mirror the server? In your case, it would've been incredibly easy. Dupe the VM file, boot it and change the host name and IP, set it up as a second server mirroring the first. Done.
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:43 PM   #10
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So let me get a bead on this caller. You had a running Exchange 03 server. In a VM.

Why exactly didn't you backup or mirror the server? In your case, it would've been incredibly easy. Dupe the VM file, boot it and change the host name and IP, set it up as a second server mirroring the first. Done.
It isn't quite that simple on exchange. Doing what you just mentioned would wreck the existing exchange server and be nonfunctional. Restore from backups preferred method being a native exchange backup -> restore or a VM backup. Beyond that use the native exchange sync.

OP make sure you follow the instructions on recovering a lost Exchange server or you may end up with a nonfunctional Active Directory as well.
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:14 PM   #11
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OP, how big is your company? There is a decent chance that a data forensics company can pull the data off your "dead" hard drives if it is absolutely critical.

At any rate, yeah, not having a backup is a terrible idea and should've been priority #1. I even back up my home VMs. Imagoon is correct in his advice above and I'd also recommend you look into hosted Exchange.
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:30 PM   #12
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It isn't quite that simple on exchange. Doing what you just mentioned would wreck the existing exchange server and be nonfunctional. Restore from backups preferred method being a native exchange backup -> restore or a VM backup. Beyond that use the native exchange sync.

OP make sure you follow the instructions on recovering a lost Exchange server or you may end up with a nonfunctional Active Directory as well.
Regardless one of the main advantages of a VM is that it simplifies backup, restoration, and migration.
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:45 PM   #13
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Regardless one of the main advantages of a VM is that it simplifies backup, restoration, and migration.
Just because something is a in a VM, it doesn't completely change the rules for backup, restore and migration either. Apps like AD, SQL, Exchange and pretty much any dynamic application needs to be treated properly whether on a VM or hardware.
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Old 11-24-2012, 06:57 PM   #14
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Just because something is a in a VM, it doesn't completely change the rules for backup, restore and migration either. Apps like AD, SQL, Exchange and pretty much any dynamic application needs to be treated properly whether on a VM or hardware.
I don't care what you're app is. Properly configured, you can stand up a duplicate machine effectively immediately with a backup of the virtual disk images and/or dedicated HD(s).

That's one of the bullet points on every VM sales sheet.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:46 PM   #15
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I don't care what you're app is. Properly configured, you can stand up a duplicate machine effectively immediately with a backup of the virtual disk images and/or dedicated HD(s).

That's one of the bullet points on every VM sales sheet.
You've moved the goal posts a couple of times but your last post is more correct. An regular capture of the image itself would allow the system to be restored more easily. There would probably still be a fair amount of work to reintegrate it back in to the domain, especially after it being down a couple of days.

And come on guys, I'm sure Oyeve doesn't need the pounding he's taking in here. What's done is done. Time to move on.

My advice would echo drebo. How big is the organization? You can migrate your users to a hosted solution fairly cheaply these days. This way you don't worry about downtime or backups.

Now, if it has to be a self hosted solution, for whatever reasons (security/compliance/whatever), then yes, grab the offline cache as soon as possible. At that point, I would put a support call in to Microsoft, explain what happened and tell them you want to remove all traces of the e2k3 server from your domain. This will cost you about $260, but I don't believe anyone can do this as well as Microsoft can, plus they really support you for just that one payment. If they say they did it and two days later you run in to problems, they'll support you. Broaden the scope by saying you had a 2k3 server die, you can't restore it, and you need to replace it with a 2k10 server. That way the installation of the 2k10 server is included in the scope and the support call cost. They'll basically fix any issues you run in to.

And use dedicated hardware for exchange. I don't believe it works great in a VM to begin with. Smaller organizations could get away with that much easier though.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:28 AM   #16
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Well, I don't have any advice on the technical side but hopefully you can use this incident as a way to hammer home things in the future with the upper brass who usually ignore technical issues (and don't want to pay for backups, redundancy, etc).
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:25 AM   #17
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Thanks for the info and chastising guys. Yeah, oh should have tackle d the vm email sooner. I have a company setting up hosted exchange for key users and will keep that going indefinately until i build a real exchange server. Hopefully I can have the server running end of week.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:04 PM   #18
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The exchange hosting is setup and running but the monthly cost is regarded. I ordered 3 1tb hard drives and when I get back I plan to see if the raid and mirror on the server can be fixed or adjusted. Hopefully I can get in it long enough to at least get the vm file off it. And if I'm lucky the mirror and or raid can be repaired. Otherwise I will spend next week rebuilding an exchange server.

Quick question tho. My dcs are all running server 2003. Can an exchange 2010 server install on a 2003 ad network?
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:36 PM   #19
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Yes, as long as you are on 2k3, it will work. Exchange 2007 and up do require a 64-bit Server system though, just keep that in mind.

If I were you, I would take this opportunity to bring everything up to 2k8 level though.
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:28 PM   #20
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Yes, as long as you are on 2k3, it will work. Exchange 2007 and up do require a 64-bit Server system though, just keep that in mind.

If I were you, I would take this opportunity to bring everything up to 2k8 level though.
All my servers are on 32bit 2k3. Can I install a 64bit server for email in a 32bit server environment? I wasnt planning on upgrading my server until next summer. But I need to get email backup ASAP.
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:32 PM   #21
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Your domain controllers can be 32-bit, but your Exchange server must be 64-bit, and and it must be running at least Windows Server 2008. The Exchange Management Tools are also only available for 64-bit Windows computers.
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:55 PM   #22
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Your domain controllers can be 32-bit, but your Exchange server must be 64-bit, and and it must be running at least Windows Server 2008. The Exchange Management Tools are also only available for 64-bit Windows computers.
Ah, OK. Got it. I am going to spec this out. Thanks.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:01 PM   #23
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Ah, OK. Got it. I am going to spec this out. Thanks.
Multiple people (including myself) have already mentioned this, but I'll reiterate: you should strongly consider outsourcing your mail to an external provider that has the resources to properly support Exchange. It doesn't make much financial sense for small companies to run it in-house anymore, especially if you have to buy software and equipment specifically for it.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:32 PM   #24
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Multiple people (including myself) have already mentioned this, but I'll reiterate: you should strongly consider outsourcing your mail to an external provider that has the resources to properly support Exchange. It doesn't make much financial sense for small companies to run it in-house anymore, especially if you have to buy software and equipment specifically for it.
We have 60 users and around 30 mobile devices. The cost of hosting costs a lot. I wanted to redo the email server from the start but waited too long obviously. The annual cost of hosting is like 3 to 4 times the cost of having it in house. I will confer with the brass though.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:46 PM   #25
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We have 60 users and around 30 mobile devices. The cost of hosting costs a lot. I wanted to redo the email server from the start but waited too long obviously. The annual cost of hosting is like 10 the 3 to 4 times the cost of having it in house. I will conference with the brass though.
For 60 users, the cost of Exchange, Windows Server 2008, and the necessary client licenses is about $8,000. That does not include the cost of hardware, supporting software (e.g., backups, spam filtering, etc.), administration, bandwidth of hosting, electricity, and a variety of other expenses, all of which adds thousands to the price.

In contrast, one year of Office 365 Exchange hosting is $3,000.

Unless you're in a business sector that qualifies for heavily discounted Microsoft software, the math simply doesn't favor on-premises hosting. Hell, even if you did get discounted software, it's still likely cheaper to host it.
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