Good free way to backup exchange server?

Red Squirrel

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May 24, 2003
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Where I work we have no backups (eventually will but it's taking ages) so I took it upon myself to try and come up with a solution with what we got. Not the best, but what I want to do is just have a "snapshot" backup of exchange maybe once a week.

Problem is I can't seem to find a reliable way of doing it. We can't take it down otherwise it's easy, I'd just copy over the whole store.

I used the windows backup once and it worked, but not it always fails. I noticed xmerge fails a lot as well, it randomly picks mailboxes that it just fails on, no log, no nothing. I need something that will work no matter what. If there's corrupted items just skip over and keep going. anyone know of a decent program? Or how hard would it be to write one? Is the exchange protocol easy to use and documented somewhere? Guessing these backup apps do it through tcp by connecting to the server.
 

yinan

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Jan 12, 2007
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They used to use MAPI but that protocol is going away. BUt ntbackup should work, if you use the one that gets installed on the Exchange server.
 

dphantom

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NTBackup is your answer. On the Exchange server, it will reliably backup and restore Exchange information stores.

Otherwise, you will need to look at something like Backup Exec with the Exchange agent.
 

Red Squirrel

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Hmm since NT backup is what I'm using i think (the one that comes with Windows). It fails with some "invalid command" error, about 5 hours into the backup. We will be getting backupexec, but who knows when they'll actually give us the green light to use it. Stuff around here is constantly stopped by politics and crap.
 

dphantom

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Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
Hmm since NT backup is what I'm using i think (the one that comes with Windows). It fails with some "invalid command" error, about 5 hours into the backup. We will be getting backupexec, but who knows when they'll actually give us the green light to use it. Stuff around here is constantly stopped by politics and crap.

I've never had any issues with NTBackup. I typically use commercial backup software, but this sounds like you need to figure out why the backup is failing and fix it before you have a disaster and have to tell your boss there is no backup and why you didn't fix the problem.
 

Red Squirrel

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Originally posted by: SoulAssassin
Yeah, ntbackup will do it. Where are you writing to? local storage or remote?

Remote, I mapped a shared drive. Would be best to just add another local disk, but a server outage is a HUGE deal, even if it's like 5 minutes. I could create the disk in ESX before hand then just attach it, but yeah, not going to happen, so I made a new VM to act as the backup server.

Problem I've seen with exchange is mailbox items randomly get corrupt, then it refuses to do anything with those items. Exmerge fails, mailbox moves fail and well apparently backups too. You'd think Microsoft would add better error handling in their code to allow a process to keep going if there's an issue. Same with copying files in explorer, one single error and it bails out. Ms products are really bad for that.
 

Nothinman

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Sep 14, 2001
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Problem I've seen with exchange is mailbox items randomly get corrupt,

If that's happening the I'd say you've got other problems to worry about. I avoid our Exchange server as much as possible but I've never heard of any mailboxes having random corruption that caused backup failures.
 

Nothinman

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I see it all the time. It seems to usually be the mailboxes that are several GB in size. Usually managers and what not.

Once again, AFAIK that shouldn't happen. I know of several people here with multi-GB mailboxes and I know that we didn't decide to just not back them up.
 

tranceport

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Aug 8, 2000
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Originally posted by: yinan
They used to use MAPI but that protocol is going away. BUt ntbackup should work, if you use the one that gets installed on the Exchange server.

MAPI is really only used for client access and brick level backups.

Exchange has an API that is used for backup. That is why you install a backup product with an Exchange agent.


Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
Originally posted by: SoulAssassin
Yeah, ntbackup will do it. Where are you writing to? local storage or remote?

Remote, I mapped a shared drive. Would be best to just add another local disk, but a server outage is a HUGE deal, even if it's like 5 minutes. I could create the disk in ESX before hand then just attach it, but yeah, not going to happen, so I made a new VM to act as the backup server.

Problem I've seen with exchange is mailbox items randomly get corrupt, then it refuses to do anything with those items. Exmerge fails, mailbox moves fail and well apparently backups too. You'd think Microsoft would add better error handling in their code to allow a process to keep going if there's an issue. Same with copying files in explorer, one single error and it bails out. Ms products are really bad for that.

Sounds to me like your company should invest a bit more in such an important product in your environment. Why are you looking at free stuff for something so critical? Must not be as critical as you think or maybe you are not aligning yourself with business needs by choosing free software?

I backup about a terabyte of email every night. I do not have issues with corrupting them from backups. I also routinely move mailboxes around and again do not have issues with corruption. I used to use exmerge quite a bit as well and also never had issues with corruption.

I have had exchange as a responsibility for about 10 years.
 

Red Squirrel

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How would I go about preventing corruption? We manage quite a few exchange servers and I've seen this issue on all of them. There will always be at least one mailbox that wont let you do anything with it because of corruption. This corruption is so small it does not affect the user.
 

dphantom

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Jan 14, 2005
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Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
How would I go about preventing corruption? We manage quite a few exchange servers and I've seen this issue on all of them. There will always be at least one mailbox that wont let you do anything with it because of corruption. This corruption is so small it does not affect the user.

Well, first of all you need to figure out what is causing it. I worked with and managed Exchange systems since 1994 and have never had the level of issues you are describing. If your Exchange server is a problem, it should have information in the event viewr that will point you to whewre the problem may lie.

Again, as others have said, you need to fix the cause of your supposed corruption first. You obviously have some issue with Exchange and need to fix that. Also, if this is a critical system, why would you only want to back it up once a week as you stated?
 

Red Squirrel

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May 24, 2003
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Originally posted by: dphantom
Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
How would I go about preventing corruption? We manage quite a few exchange servers and I've seen this issue on all of them. There will always be at least one mailbox that wont let you do anything with it because of corruption. This corruption is so small it does not affect the user.

Well, first of all you need to figure out what is causing it. I worked with and managed Exchange systems since 1994 and have never had the level of issues you are describing. If your Exchange server is a problem, it should have information in the event viewr that will point you to whewre the problem may lie.

Again, as others have said, you need to fix the cause of your supposed corruption first. You obviously have some issue with Exchange and need to fix that. Also, if this is a critical system, why would you only want to back it up once a week as you stated?

We have zero backups atm and a backup takes several days, so I want to at least have a weekly backup. We will be getting a proper tape backup eventually (actually it's here, just not setup) but I wanted something temporarly.
 

dphantom

Diamond Member
Jan 14, 2005
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Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
Originally posted by: dphantom
Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
How would I go about preventing corruption? We manage quite a few exchange servers and I've seen this issue on all of them. There will always be at least one mailbox that wont let you do anything with it because of corruption. This corruption is so small it does not affect the user.

Well, first of all you need to figure out what is causing it. I worked with and managed Exchange systems since 1994 and have never had the level of issues you are describing. If your Exchange server is a problem, it should have information in the event viewr that will point you to whewre the problem may lie.

Again, as others have said, you need to fix the cause of your supposed corruption first. You obviously have some issue with Exchange and need to fix that. Also, if this is a critical system, why would you only want to back it up once a week as you stated?

We have zero backups atm and a backup takes several days, so I want to at least have a weekly backup. We will be getting a proper tape backup eventually (actually it's here, just not setup) but I wanted something temporarly.

Days to do an Exchange backup??? How much data are you backing up? Even low end backup solutions will backup up a couple TBs a day or more.
 

Red Squirrel

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May 24, 2003
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Originally posted by: dphantom
Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
Originally posted by: dphantom
Originally posted by: RedSquirrel
How would I go about preventing corruption? We manage quite a few exchange servers and I've seen this issue on all of them. There will always be at least one mailbox that wont let you do anything with it because of corruption. This corruption is so small it does not affect the user.

Well, first of all you need to figure out what is causing it. I worked with and managed Exchange systems since 1994 and have never had the level of issues you are describing. If your Exchange server is a problem, it should have information in the event viewr that will point you to whewre the problem may lie.

Again, as others have said, you need to fix the cause of your supposed corruption first. You obviously have some issue with Exchange and need to fix that. Also, if this is a critical system, why would you only want to back it up once a week as you stated?

We have zero backups atm and a backup takes several days, so I want to at least have a weekly backup. We will be getting a proper tape backup eventually (actually it's here, just not setup) but I wanted something temporarly.

Days to do an Exchange backup??? How much data are you backing up? Even low end backup solutions will backup up a couple TBs a day or more.

I think it runs as a low priority process so it does not impact performance, so probably why it would take that long. It's also in a VMware environment with close to 70 more vms all accessing the same san.
 

dphantom

Diamond Member
Jan 14, 2005
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Well, I am not going to redisgn your network but here are some things to try on the Exchange side.

WARNING: IMPROPERLY RUNNING OR USING THE TOOLS BELOW MAY IRREVOCABLY CORRUPT YOUR DATABASE. USE AT OWN RISK.



Make sure any antivirus that may be running is not scanning Exchange files.
Exchange databases, logs and checkpoint files across all storage groups. By default, these are located in the Exchsrvr\Mdbdata folder.
Exchange MTA files in the Exchsrvr\Mtadata folder.
Directory Exchsrvr\server_name.log file which contains the tracking log.
The Exchsrvr\Mailroot virtual server folder.
The working folder that is used to store streaming temporary files that are used for message conversion. By default, this folder is located at \Exchsrvr\MDBData, but you can configure the location.
The temporary folder that is used for offline database maintenance with Eseutil.exe and Isinteg utilities.
Site Replication Service (SRS) files in the Exchsrvr\Srsdata folder.
Microsoft Internet Information Service (IIS) system files in the %SystemRoot%\System32\Inetsrv folder.

I would then do the following:

1) Perform integrity check (Microsoft Exchange)

ESEUTIL /G <databasename>.edb

For example

ESEUTIL /G myinformationstore.edb

2) If database errors reported perform repair

ESEUTIL /P myinformationstore.edb

3) Perform offline defragmentation

ESEUTIL /D myinformationstore.edb

4) Fix at application level (Exchange)

ISINTEG -S Servername -FIX -TEST ALLTESTS

For Example

ISINTEG -S MYEXCHANGE -FIX -TEST ALLTESTS

You may need to perform step 4 a number of time to return error level to 0. A information store that reports errors and cannot be reduced using the above is considered unstable.

I would perform the above with caution, and do some background reading before hand on eseutil and isinteg. All the above involves system downtime.
 

dphantom

Diamond Member
Jan 14, 2005
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And one more very important item I did not want to get lost in my longer post above.

If you are having this corrupt mailbox problem with ntbackup, you will almost certainly have the same problem with BUE or any other commercial backup software.

So I really suggest you fix the corruption problem asap.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
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Once our real backup solution is in place I'll probably go ahead and try those commands. I'll pass that on to the other techs as this issue is on other servers as well, that I don't manage.
 

rasczak

Lifer
Jan 29, 2005
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do you have a test box you can load up exchange on and restore the mailboxes to? i ask because you may want to try doing this on a test box before doing it on production.
 

debian0001

Senior member
Jun 8, 2012
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What version of Exchange are you running? If it's 2010 you could setup a DAG and send a copy of the database somewhere else.