How to Backup Exchange for Free

So, more and more companies deploying an Exchange. And as you know, the next step after Exchange Implementation MUST be a backup configuration.

And now is a very surprising point. Many sysadmins are willing to pay over for complex backup solutions which they don’t necessarily need.

As “Exchange Dinosaur” (I still remember Exchange 4.0 :))) I would like to say that one of the best backup (and what is more important, restore solution) always was Microsoft NT Backup. Since Windows 2008 Microsoft has removed NT Backup and replaced it with “Windows Server Backup Feature

First, I need to mention the aspect that Microsoft has enabled Windows Server Backup to take VSS backups of the Exchange databases, so the following can work on Exchange 2010 and Hyper-V, on Windows 2008, Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 2012/R2.

As an additional note, Microsoft has extended Windows Server Backup Feature in Windows 2008, and I really recommend to install Exchange 2010 on Windows 2008 R2 and not on Windows 2008. The reason why I say that is because of a new feature that’s come with the Windows Backup Server of Windows 2008 R2. On Windows 2008 R2, backups can be taken from both the Active and the Passive databases of a DAG (Database Availability Group). This is very cool news because, in Windows 2008, backups could only be taken from the Active Node.

Ok, I should stop talking and just show you how to implement a FREE Backup of Exchange  …

By default, the Windows Server Backup Feature is not installed with yourWindows Server, so we need to install it. We can do this by navigating to the feature section of Server Manager or from a Command Line Interface, usingPowerShell:

  1.    Run Windows Powershell
  2.    At the command prompt, enter “Import-Module servermanager
  3.    Next, run “Add-WindowsFeature backup-features
  4.    Wait for the installation to complete

The result should be similar to the bellow:

Add-WindowsFeature_backup-features-PowerShell

Now we should be able to find “Windows Server Backup” in ourAdministrative Tools. Let’s run it.

Note: Keep in mind that we have to install Windows Servera backup on the mailbox server.

Well, after starting Windows Server Backup, we should see the following interface”

Windows-server-Backup-Backup-Once

Now we have to configure a Backup job. From the task panel select “Backup Schedule” or “Backup Once” depending on your needs. Today I will talk about the “Backup Once” procedure, but both are almost similar.

So after selecting “Backup Once” we will see the following screen and the only option available for us will be “Different Options”; do so and then click next.

Windows-server-Backup-Different-Options

In the “Select Backup Configuration” section, we will choose “Custom”.

Windows-server-Backup-Custom-Configuration

The “Select Items for Backup” section is extremely the most important part of our configuration. First of all click on “Add Items” and select the folder, where is stored Mailbox Databases and their associated Logfiles. In Exchange 2010, by default, this folder is located at”

C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14\Mailbox

Windows-server-Backup-Select-Items-for-Backup-1

Windows-server-Backup-Select-Items-for-Backup-2

Now when we have selected the mailbox folders, but before we are going to the next screen, we need to click on “Advanced settings” and then “VSS Settings”. We have to be sure to select “VSS Full Backup” as shown in figure following screen:

Windows-server-Backup-VSS Settings

In the next screen, select to use a remote shared folder if you want to store backups outside of Exchange server……And selected the shared folder you are planning to backup to.

Windows-server-Backup-Specify-Destination-Type

Finally, we should confirm our backup options, and … read other articles on http://www.highclouder.ninja/ site, while you are waiting for the process to finish :).

Windows-server-Backup-Specify-Remote-Folder

As a conclusion I’d like to say that Windows Server Backup is greatly improved in Windows 2008 R2.

Specifically, two very important new features in R2: The ability to backup a specific folder rather than a volume and when running Database Availability Groups, the flexibility to backup from both an Active or Passive Database.

In one of my next articles, we will look at the restore procedure and scenarios!

 

Written by Misha Hanin

Trusted Business & Technology Advisor, Solutions Managing Director & Senior Solutions Architect at iRangers International Inc. with more than 25 years of experience in the field of information technology, infrastructure analysis and design, implementing innovative and leading technologies for International companies around the globe in public and private sectors.

Over the years I was able to develop very strong technical and engineering skills which helped me to earn trusted advisor status with our clients. As one of the nearly 500 trained Microsoft Certified Masters (MCM) in The World (during 10 years existence of MCM program, just about 500 people in The World participated in this very intensive training), I have a winning track record in building and bringing projects to operational and measurable success.

I am honored to have been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP). This award is given to "exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others."