In Exchange Server, you can use any type of backup application to backup the virtual machine or physical server, depending on the infrastructure. However, the backup application should be application-aware and compatible with the operating system and Exchange Server version installed. The supplier or vendor must always be consulted before installing a new backup application or updating the version to ensure the full compatibility.
Sometimes, after a crash or server failure, you would need to recover the whole server from the backup. But when you recover the virtual machine from the backup, the operating system may not boot and you are left with a restored server, but not in operational state.
There could be several reasons for this:
- The backup application is not compatible with the three layers of the setup - the hypervisor, the operating system, and the Exchange Server.
- There could be corruption or damage on the backup destination or the restore destination, like a physical disk, a VHD, or a VHDX.
The VHDX file is vulnerable to corruption or damage. The VHDX file is composed of the following layers.
When the header or footer gets corrupt, there is nothing you can do. But if operating system doesn’t boot after a restore, then there is still hope.
In this article, we will see how to recover Exchange backup VHDX file. In this case, we will consider that the virtual machine is being restored, but it doesn’t boot.
Ways to Recover Exchange Backup VHDX File
You can try the following ways to fix the issue and restore the VHDX file.
1. Run Check Disk Utility
Since the machine is not booting, it indicates that the system files or control files of the Windows Operating system are corrupt. This could happen if the backup is corrupt or the backup application is not compatible. In this case, the first thing to do is to turn off the machine. Then, you need to mount the VHDX file on the host server and run a check disk scan on the operating system disk of the server.
This will initiate a scan on all system files of the operating system and possibly repair any existing errors, bad sectors, or corrupted system files.
2. Re-install the Operating System Partition
The other solution is to re-install the operating system partition. Since Exchange Server configuration is all stored in the Active Directory Schema, apart from custom send and receive connectors, you can delete the affected partition and re-install the Windows operating system.
After this operation, you can re-install Exchange Server with the recovery option (see the below command) to retrieve the configurations from the Active Directory.
Note: It is important that the same computer name and the same IP address are kept, else the installation will fail.
This will resolve the problem of the operating system not booting and that the Exchange Server is not active.
3. Perform Database Recovery using ESEUtil
It might happen that the services are restored but not the data. There is a chance that the databases won’t mount. In such a case, you can use the ESEUtil with smooth recovery to try to fix small corruption issues in the transaction logs or database.
If this doesn’t work, you can use the hard recovery but it comes with a red flag. It will re-create the EDB file and purge anything which is deemed corrupted. There is no guarantee that the database will mount afterwards. Also, if you contact Microsoft support, they will not help you since it is breach of their support. So, hard recovery must only be used as a last resort.
An Easy and Quick Solution
To avoid the hassles and complexities of the above solutions, you can use a specialized Exchange backup extractor tool, called Stellar Mailbox Extractor for Exchange Backup. It is available as an individual software or comes with the Stellar Toolkit for Exchange. The application can open and repair corrupted Exchange database backup files, such as VHDX, BKF, and FD. It can also recover backups taken by HP, Symantec, or Veritas software. After repair, you can save the data in PST or shareable formats, such as MSG, RTF, EML, HTML, and PDF. You can also directly export the data to a live Exchange Server, with complete integrity.