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Best Practice #2: Building your plan around the technology at hand

Best Practices Checklist: Exchange Server disaster recovery planning, Best Practice #2: Building your plan around the technology at hand.

The sheer variety of disaster recovery technology to choose from can make you dizzy. Unless you have a virtually unlimited budget, you will need to develop a disaster recovery plan that is primarily based on the technology at hand.

If this is true for you, then your backup hardware will dictate the type of backups you will need to perform. The technology you have deployed will also control the schedule necessary to complete those backups.

There are some key factors in determining if the current technology should be replaced as part of a disaster recovery plan. Consider the following:

  • Allowed backup times
  • Allowed recovery times (a.k.a. downtime)
  • Acceptable data loss (a.k.a. data loss tolerance)

If your backup and restore procedures cannot be configured to meet these requirements using your existing hardware and software, an upgrade may be required.

Many organizations will utilize incremental and differential Exchange backups to reduce the amount of time a backup takes. While this works for one side of the equation (backup times), it may not satisfy the other side (recovery times), since incremental and differential backups can actually take longer to restore then a full backup.

When it comes to data loss tolerance, simply running multiple backup types can provide you with an appropriate solution. For example you might perform the Microsoft recommended Normal (Full Online Backup) of Exchange Monday through Friday.

You could also perform an offline backup on Saturday. The offline backup is performed while the databases are dismounted or the information store service is stopped. This copy of the database, which is made while the database is in a consistent state, can be used in the event that you are unable to restore from an online backup. If seven-day data loss exceeds your organization's tolerance threshold, you may want to consider performing additional offline backups throughout the week.

Best Practices Checklist: Exchange Server disaster recovery planning

 Home: Introduction
 Best Practice #1: Understanding Exchange databases
 Best Practice #2: Building your plan around the technology at hand
 Best Practice #3: Keeping e-mail in perspective
 Best Practice #4: Configuring server hardware for disaster recovery
 Best Practice #5: Configuring Exchange for disaster recovery
 Best Practice #6: Simulating a disaster
 Best Practice #7: Learning from others' mistakes and successes
 Best Practice #8: Considering offsite storage and remote recovery
 Best Practice #9: Familiarizing yourself with the right resources

Richard Luckett, Vice President and Senior Consultant, Ajettix Security
Richard Luckett is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer on the Windows NT 4.0, 2000 and 2003 platforms and has been certified on Exchange since version 4.0. He is the co-author of Administering Exchange 2000 Server, published by McGraw Hill, and has written four Exchange courses, Introduction to Exchange 2000, and Hands-on Exchange 2003, Ultimate Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 Administrator Boot Camp for Global Knowledge Inc. Richard is currently Vice President and Senior Consultant for Ajettix Security, where he is the head of the Microsoft security practice.

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