Backup and Recovery is, undoubtedly, a most crucial task for any database, specifically when it comes to Exchange Server. Backup operations can appear quite tedious but when it comes to recovery, the worth of backup can be estimated. In major cases, non-operational or inappropriately configured backups can amount to significant data loss where backup fails to offer benefits as expected.
One simple fact associated with databases is that failure occurs when a storage system or Server fails the data that these devices host needs to be recovered. In such cases, backup acts as a considerable recovery resource that helps gain access to lost data.
Database Backup Strategies
There are several ways to back up your data in Exchange Server 2016. Let’s look at each:
• Full Backup
A full backup is a complete copy of the entire data existing on volume, server, file system, or application. In Exchange Server 2016, full backups are also known as ‘Application Aware’ backup or ‘VSS Full’ backup.
It contains a replica of the data existing on the machine at the time of backup, irrespective of the modification made to the data since the last or the most recent backup. It is one of the most reliable backup strategies used to restore data in the instance of failure.
• Differential Backup
Data that has been changed since the last full backup is copied and this strategy is termed as a differential backup. The volume of this backup file grows as time passes by and turns remarkably visible until the next instance of a full backup.
One major benefit of this backup approach is that at the time of restoration, only two backup media are required at most to restore the entire data. In simple terms, this refers to the backup strategy that includes the difference to the backup made since the last instance.
• Incremental Backup
The changes that have been incremented since the last backup are copied, and this strategy is referred to as an incremental backup. It is the backup that includes latest edits made to the database since the last backup of any level, be it incremental or full backup.
During Exchange Recovery 2016, the restoration procedure would require last full backup along with the incremental backup till the point-in-time instance. This form of backup demands less storage space and are accomplished quickly in comparison to other backup types.
Apart from the above mentioned backup approaches, there is another strategy referred to as ‘Copy backups.’ It is not marked as a backup but used typically to copy data to another system for the purpose of testing.
Backup Storage Mediums & Resources
Now when the backup strategies are discussed thoroughly, it is time to understand the type of storage mediums being used to save backups.
Nowadays, large volume disk storage media is available at low prices. Disks are faster storage mediums when compared to magnetic tapes and are easy to store. Based on the different backup and recovery scenarios, disks help restore data in an efficient manner. Also, some noticeable features such as compressions, hardware based de-duplication, and replication makes them quite popular among users.
Magnetic tapes are, undoubtedly, a conventional medium to store backups; however, they are remarkably popular and available in varied capacities and formats. It is employed by several small to large scale organizations for storing backups but they are not used as a primary backup resource. In fact, they are more often used to replicate sets of backup from disk storage medium so that the copy of the data contents being backed up can be carried over to off-site locations.
Undoubtedly, cloud storage has become the most popular as well as considerable backup resource with huge advancement in technology. A number of cloud storage providers are available nowadays, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. The web service providers’ offer various plans based on volume or gigabytes as per your requirement. Subscription is either on a monthly or annual basis. This approach includes built-in data replication that prevents data in case of internal or external failures.
Among the above stated backup resources, cloud backup is the trendiest way of storage as it provides all time access to data. Backup data remains safe and secure and user needs to enter username and password credential to access the same. It helps keeping hackers and unauthorized access away from data round the clock.
Let’s now take a look at the various recovery modes.
Exchange Database Recovery Strategies
There are different database recovery techniques, and this largely depends on the DBA as well as relevant factors as to which strategy needs to be followed. Various concepts, terminologies and strategies related to recovery are as follows:
• RTO: The RTO (Recovery Time Objective) defines the volume of time acceptable for performing recovery in the instance of a disaster. The recovery strategy should be developed keeping in mind all associated factors.
• RPO: The RPO (Recovery Point Objective) is considered as the point in time you attempt to retrieve data from. It is the volume of data loss that an organization is willing to accept in the event of failure. It is vital to design backup solution considering all the facts.
• VSS: Volume Shadow-Copy Service is an essential part of Windows Server OS used to create application backups or replicas of Exchange Database 2016. The snapshots of volumes or files can be captured even when they are in use.
• Database Portability: Exchange Server compatibility is required to mount the database being replicated or restored from another EDB Server 2016 within the same Exchange environment. It helps in recovery operation when the host Server is not available.
• Dial Tone Recovery: MS Exchange Server’s compatibility to mount the temporary database with void mailboxes so that end users can be connected for sending or receiving emails. It is often used for restoring services for end users when recovery procedure takes too long.
The 3-2-1 Rule
There is a simple 3-2-1 Rule that you must follow during backup storage in the Exchange Server 2016 environment.
• You must maintain at least 3 copies of your backup data • The backup must be stored on 2 different storage media • Try to keep a single copy offsite beyond the reach of users
In a virtualized Exchange Server environment, you may find snapshot based backup system which is (n) times faster than the traditional backup strategies. In snapshot based systems, the backup is created much faster as well as restored in a fraction of a second. Based on the volume of data, the restoration procedure is sometimes unnoticeable. However, this system is not much recommended for recovery process as it does not encompass rolling-back VM to the last snapshot.
What Requires a Backup in Exchange Server 2016
Edge Transport and Mailboxes are two major Server roles in the respective Exchange environment. It is recommended to execute full Server backup while it is not compulsory and can be done on the basis of preferences and requirements. In addition, if fast and reliable rebuilding processes are available, you may not consider backing up the Server operating system. However, it is highly recommended to backup databases, if you are not able to back up the entire server.
The way forward: Stellar Repair for Exchange
However, if you face any type of data loss while performing crucial backup and recovery procedures, you can utilize Mailbox Exchange Recovery Software. Stellar Repair for Exchange integrates advanced data recovery options including Quick scan and Extensive Scan. An important benefit is that the Exchange Recovery software retrieves and recovers lost data from the Server and restores it in independent file formats such as PST, EML, MSG, PDF, RTF, MSG, Office 365 and HTML.
Above all, this Do-it-yourself software is hassle-free and makes a seamless recovery of your inaccessible data from the Exchange Server 2016.
Eric Simson is an Email Platform Consultant and is associated with Stellar Data Recovery from last 6 years. He writes about the latest technology tips and provides custom solutions related to MS Outlook, MS Exchange Server, Office 365, and many other Email Clients & Servers.