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UselessUser
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Full Name: Lawrence Howlett
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How Exchange 2003/2008 VSS backup works

Post by UselessUser »

Hi,

I have been reading with interest the complexities of VMware backups (And more importantly restores)...

We have a small farm deployed with some non-critical VM's running with agent based backups (Symantec BE 12.5) so they are essentially being treated like physical servers..

However we are looking to migrate all our services (Leaving a few physical DC, DNS etc) on VMware so Exchange, SQL, etc etc... so want a easier method..

I have been looking at EsXpress but this seems to really only offer crash consistent backups (VSS is mentioned briefly...) I am looking for a bit more confidence than this...

I saw a post by someone with video's that explained the issue of having a VSS backup, but then not restoring using the VSS applications (USN rollback etc)... and it showed how veeam does do this correctly (Booting into directory services mode etc etc)...

How does this process work with Exchange or SQL if I were to use veeam??

Vitaliy S.
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Re: Exchange 2003 Backups

Post by Vitaliy S. »

Hello Lawrence,

The main thing while you're doing backups of your Exchange and SQL server is to enable VSS integration for your jobs, because with the Enable VSS integration option selected, Veeam Backup and Replication 3.1 utilizes the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) that ensures consistent backup of VSS‐aware application running within your virtual machines (domain controllers, databases and other applications) without shutting them down. The Enable VSS integration option allows creating a transactionally consistent backup image of a VM, which, in contrast to a crash‐consistent backup image, ensures successful VM recovery, as well as proper recovery of all applications installed on the VM without any data loss.

We've got a good article about VSS here:
http://veeammeup.com/2008/08/vss-and-vm ... g-you.html

So, to summarize everything - the only thing you need is to enable VSS intergration at advanced job settings.

Thank you

Gostev
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Re: Exchange 2003 Backups

Post by Gostev »

Lawrence, the concept of our Microsoft Exchange support is very similar with how we do DC restore (which is what you saw in video).

As a part of snapshot preparation, our VSS integration code configures VM image to perform certain steps at the time of first boot (after backup is restored). These steps are required to ensure correct recovery. On a higher level (note that all of these activities are fully automated and transparent for you), when VM is first started from backup, Exchange first starts with dismounted mailbox stores (so that the mailbox store files are not locked by some 3rd party antivirus or antispam engine at the time of VSS restore). Then, our code instructs Exchange VSS writer to initiate shadow copy restore algorithm and Exchange itself performs the required VSS restore steps/magic. When Exchange reports shadow copy restore operation completed, our code automatically mounts mailbox store files back, and you get normal and fully functional Exchange server.

Most obvious difference with any other image-level backup solution can be easily confirmed by observing Exchange event logs after performing restore. Only with Veeam Backup you will see the event saying that Exchange shadow copy restore was performed successfully. With any other solution, you will not see any restore events in your log, because competition solutions are not application-aware, they do not really care or distinguish whether they are backing up and restoring some Windows XP VM with Solitaire, or active production Exchange server. They simply don't look what's inside. All they do is freeze I/O and make snapshot, and then backup this snapshot, done - most straightforward and simplistic approach. Thus, their restore process is simply about starting up the snapshot, which is totally fine for Solitaire, but inacceptable for Exchange or Domain Controller.

So again, key difference is application awareness. Competitive solutions completely do not care what applications are running inside VM they are backing up. Veeam Backup, on the other hand, treats certain applications (specifically, DC and Exchange) specially.

Hope this helps!

sixpack
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Re: Exchange 2003 Backups

Post by sixpack »

Is there a way to customize the start up of the replica server? We dont want Exchange to start up automatically so that we have the opportunity to copy the Exchange log files and have it update itself on startup.

We currently do this by making sure the network doesn't work on the replica so Exchange can't start, however would prefer a neater way of doing it.

Thanks

Gostev
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Re: Exchange 2003 Backups

Post by Gostev »

No, there is no way to customize the replica startup, and I am not sure how any external modifications can potentially affect our VSS restore workflow logic. By the way, how do you copy the Exchange log files if the network is down?

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