The following is tip #2 from "12 ways to protect your Exchange 2003 data," excerpted from Mike Daugherty's new book, Monitoring & Managing Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, reprinted with permission of Digital Press, an imprint of Elsevier, copyright 2004. For more Information, please visit www.elsevier.com. Return to the main page for more tips on this topic.
Hardware failures, software failures, human error and sometimes even natural disasters can disrupt your e-mail environment. Disasters happen, and you must be prepared to respond quickly. By using the following practices, you can reduce the risk and impact of potential disasters.
- Ensure that circular logging is turned off for all Storage Groups. With circular logging enabled, transaction logs are overwritten to save disk space. However, overwriting transaction logs prevents the overwritten logs from being used during recovery operations.
- Perform daily full (normal) backups of the Exchange Information Store.
- Perform periodic full backups of Windows and Exchange configuration data.
- Select server-class hardware for your servers rather than high-end desk top systems. Redundant power supplies, multiple processors, and hard ware RAID are worth the extra cost to ensure server availability in the event of a component failure.
- Install all Exchange servers in a controlled environment consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations. Protect the servers with Uninter ruptible Power Supplies. Physically secure the environment that houses the servers.
- Protect databases using hardware RAID-5 (disk striping plus parity) or RAID 01 (disk striping and mirroring) technology.
- Keep transaction log files on separate hard drives from the databases. Protect the log files using RAID-1 (disk mirroring) technology.
- Keep the Windows operating system files on separate hard drives and protect them using RAID-1 (disk mirroring).
- Ensure that your Exchange servers have adequate disk space, including sufficient space to support recovery operations.
- Have multiple Windows domain controllers (DCs) for each domain to provide redundancy in the event of a single failure. Three DCs are recommended. If you only have two DCs, then you are at risk whenever you take one DC offline for maintenance. With three DCs, you are still protected if one of the DCs fails while you have one temporarily offline for maintenance.
- Maintain up-to-date documentation for your server configurations.
- Have a dedicated recovery server with the same configuration as your production servers. A dedicated recovery system is one that is only used when a disaster occurs. The server is not connected to the network.
- Fully document your recovery procedures and regularly practice disaster recoveries.
By following these practices, you can reduce the risk and impact of disasters, but you cannot completely avoid disruptions.
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About the author: Mike Daugherty is Manager of the Microsoft Consulting Resource Unit for the Central Region as well as a Senior Solution Architect and Program Manager with HP Consulting and Integration Services. He travels widely, working with large Exchange installations and helping clients manage their systems. He is based in Texas.