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tsightler
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Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by tsightler »

We have recently added our Exchange 2003 server to our Veeam backup. Everything seems to work fine, however, it appears that Veeam does not remove old Exchange logs from the filesystem after the backup completes. I was under the impression that, as long as you used VSS, the logs would be properly removed. Was the impression incorrect?

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Tom

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by Gostev »

Hi Tom, Veeam Backup does not have functionality to truncate transaction logs files. Presumably this should be handled by Exchange VSS writer as a part of VSS process, as described here or here.

VSS truncates the transaction log files after successfully creating and backing up the shadow copy

Exchange Writers coordinate with the Exchange services (operating on behalf of the requestor) to prepare the storage group files for backups and freeze the IO activity due to Exchange transactions before backing it up, and then to unfreeze and truncate log files after the backup is complete.

I will talk to one of former Exchange developers we have to see if he has any other information.

tsightler
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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by tsightler »

I think the problem may be that the Exchange VSS writer requires the backup software to provide confirmation that the backup complete successfully before it will actually prune the transactions logs. It appears to me that Veeam Backup does not perform this step.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/822896

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by Gostev »

Actually Veeam Backup does signal to Exchange VSS writer that backup is complete (this is what makes Exchange "unfreeze" and continue normal operations). Sorry, I forgot to discuss this with the corresponding developer today - I have forwarded him the link now. If we are not doing something we should on Exchange VSS writer interaction, then this should be easy to fix/implement.

tsightler
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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by tsightler »

According to the link the "unfreeze" and "backup successful" messages are two completely separate steps. Based on what I can see it appears that Veeam tells the system to "unfreeze" as soon as the snapshot is taken, you wouldn't want to purge logs at that point since it's entirely possible the backup will fail. You would want to purge the logs only after Veeam had successfully backed up the snapshot, and even then you would have to be careful since new logs might have been created while the backups was being made (VSS might handle this case automatically).

I'm planning to write a script which simply purges logs over a few days old, but this seems non-ideal.

Thanks,
Tom

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by Gostev »

Yes, probably you are right. It would be great feature for us to add to the next version. I will discuss this with developers. Will you be able to share your script as a temporary solution?

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by stevenfoo »

My opnion as a new customer to Veeam.

Veeam have to test their product to ensure it works as backup to company is very important.

We are planning to move our exchange to VM, however we seems not to be able to do so now as Veeam cannot support VSS on exchange correct for this issue.

The purge logs do not work.

Hope Veeam will give us a solution as soon as possible. We are running on 3.0.1

Thanks
Steven

tsightler
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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by tsightler »

Actually, after some additional testing, it seems that Veeam is indeed purging the Exchange 2003 logs via VSS. We're thinking that we were possibly seeing unpredictable behavior because we still had another product backing up Exchange as well. Since stopping the other products backup from running it appears that Veeam is properly purging Exchange log files.

The only concern we currently have is that it appears that Veeam purges the logs immediately after the snapshot is taken, which leaves open the possibility that if the backup fails for some reason, those logs are lost forever. We'll probably just replicate the logs to another host prior to the backup and keep those for a few days for additional safety.

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by philp »

Hi all
It is fine that Veeam purges the logs, would be best if this occurred at backups being successful, but also keep in mind that you not be able to recover individual mailboxes or messages without using a backup app that works within the Exchange server like BE or similar.
Phil Purdue

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by Gostev »

Actually no, BE is not necessary. There are much better and cheaper apps that are able to recover individual mailboxes and messages directly from backup files produced by Veeam Backup, without having to mess with additional backup application and backups.

I have personally tested OnTrack solution for granular Exchange recoveries, this works flawlessly and integration is totally transparent. First, you initiate file-level restore operation for your Exchange VM - this makes Veeam Backup mount the backup file's content as a read-only volume on your Windows system (it appears as a new drive under My Computer). So then you simply launch OnTrack application, and point it to the Exchange mailbox database files located on that newly mounted volume. Done! You can do instant granular recoveries of individual mailboxes and messages, with very advanced search and even ability to restore back to live Exchange directly (very mature solution).

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by tsightler »

Gostev, you're correct, there are plenty of reasonably priced products that will do this. We use a product called Quest Recovery Manager for Exchange (and have for years, even before Veeam). You just point product at an Exchange EDB file and you can recover anything you want, a message, a mailbox, a calendar entry, whatever. We previously used the product in concert with snapshots of our Exchange store on our storage array, but have tested it successfully with Veeam Backup and it works great. Simply use the "Recover guest files" option to mount up the Exchange database, and then point Recovery Manager at it. We can restore a mailbox in a matter of minutes.

It does have a the minor drawback that you can easily search for a single message you want to restore and find it, for example, if a user deleted something "sometime last week" but doesn't know exactly when, you may have to mount multiple images to find the item whereas with our old backup application we could search across a date range to find it and pull out the most recent copy. This is a minor issue for us because we also have an email archiving system that allows users to restore their own items of that sort so a restore of an individual item from backup is very rare.

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Re: Backing up Exchange 2003 with VSS

Post by Gostev »

tsightler wrote:Gostev, you're correct, there are plenty of reasonably priced products that will do this. We use a product called Quest Recovery Manager for Exchange (and have for years, even before Veeam).
Tom - absolutely, I know Quest RMEX product... because we were the one who have created it back in time - years ago, before Veeam. :mrgreen:

This product was actually a part of Aelita Software portfolio. Aelita got acquired by Quest in 2004, and this is when Aelita RMEX became Quest RMEX... and in case you did not know, many Veeam folks are actually from former Aelita. For instance, myself and most of the Veeam Backup team. So, same team has come together again in a mission for creating the best software! :D

Enterprise software world is very small indeed :wink:

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