Tip

Deploying DPM requires server and storage planning

Before you deploy Microsoft's Data Protection Manager, you need to think about some of its limitations. DPM is incapable of protecting certain data types and is not compatible with some data sources. So the first thing you need to consider is what type of data that you plan on backing up, and where that data currently resides.

Here's the rule of thumb: If the data is something that can be replicated through a Distributed File System (DFS), DPM will usually be able to protect it. This is because DPM utilizes DFS, shadow copy and Active Directory resources. Therefore, DPM should have no trouble protecting things like Microsoft Office documents and image files.

On the other hand, DPM is not designed to protect an entire server. Say you have a file server that contains a bunch of Microsoft Office documents. Assuming that the server itself conforms to certain specifications, DPM will do a good job of protecting the data stored on the server. What DPM won't be able to protect is the Windows operating system, the system state or most applications.

In other words, DPM is the perfect tool for recovering a file that was accidentally deleted or for reverting to an old version of a document. However, if your server's system drive fails, you will not be able to use DPM to perform a bare metal restore.

DPM also cannot protect certain types of databases, such as the one used by Exchange Server. This is because of the way that Exchange Server makes use of database

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files, streaming files and transaction logs. There is no way that DPM can process all of these files in a way that would keep the database in a consistent state.

Deploying DPM doesn't mean you can get rid of your tape backup completely. You'll still have to back up server operating systems, applications and most databases to tape. You will also want to maintain a tape backup of your DPM server. DPM is great for keeping backup copies of your data in an easily accessible place. However, if your office were to burn down, your DPM server would be destroyed (along with all your other servers). You could only get your data back if you had a copy stored off-site (presumably on tape).

There are also limitations on the types of servers that can store the data that DPM will be protecting. We'll talk about those, as well as the hardware requirements for DPM, in the next article in this series.

In a previous article on this site, I discussed why many administrators are replacing their traditional disk-to-tape backups with Microsoft's Data Protection Manager. The next article in this series will walk you through the DPM deployment process.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. He writes regularly for SearchWinSystems.com and other TechTarget sites, and has also written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and others.

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This was first published in March 2006

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