Exchange Native Data Protection is the recommended backup option for Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013, but there are a number of scenarios where Exchange Native Data Protection isn't the best option.
Microsoft recommends a traditional backup method for Exchange Server for the following:
- Standalone mailbox servers
- Database Availability Groups (DAGs) with fewer than three member servers
- Compliance requirements
VSS support: Since Exchange 2010, Microsoft has deprecated support for extensible storage engine-streaming API-based backup options; it only supports Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)-based backups. TechNet offers some good advice on how VSS works.
Centralized management: Allows you to centralize the backups of multiple Exchange servers.
Mailbox restores: Allows you to restore databases or mailboxes.
Individual-item restore: This is probably the most common recovery scenario. It involves restoring individual items that end users have permanently deleted. If the backup option has the ability to do individual item restores from the backup itself, this can be a tremendous timesaver.
DAG compatibility: Because you have a DAG, you'll want to look for a way to back up the passive copies of your databases. Being able to back up active or passive copies will provide you with a much more flexible backup schedule; it can even reduce the time a backup affects production users. It's important to understand how the backup software manages the truncation of log files on DAG member servers.
Brick-level backup: Some third-party Exchange backup options offer brick-level, or individual mailbox, backups. Alternatively, you could use the new-mailboxexportrequest and new-mailboximportrequest cmdlets, supported in Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013, if the backup option you choose doesn't have this feature.
Once you know which characteristics to look for in a backup tool, you should be able to make a more informed decision. Here is a list of some of the more widely used backup options for Exchange Server:
- CA's ARCserve
- BackupExec from Symantec
- Microsoft Data Protection Manager, or DPM
- NetWorker from EMC
- Simpana from CommVault
- NetApp's SnapManager
- Veeam for VMware/Hyper-V environments
About the author:
Richard Luckett is a consultant and instructor specializing in messaging and unified communications. He's been a certified professional with Microsoft since 1996 and has 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. He's a Microsoft Certified Trainer with more than 15 years of training experience with the Microsoft product line, and received the Exchange MVP award in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He's also an expert in deploying and integrating Exchange Server and Lync Server. He leads the Microsoft training and consulting practice at LITSG.