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Be prepared for disaster

The following is tip #3 from "12 ways to protect your Exchange 2003 data."

The following is tip #3 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 Return to the main page for more tips on this topic.

If you have regularly backed up your Exchange databases and other critical files, you can quickly restore them if data becomes corrupted. If one of your servers fails or is physically damaged, the recovery process is more complex and requires more preparation. You should prepare for this worst-case situation by creating and maintaining a disaster recovery toolkit containing the following items:

  • A replacement server with the same configuration as the failed production server

  • Windows installation CD-ROM

  • Exchange Server installation CD-ROM

  • All Service Packs and hot fixes that you have applied to the system

  • An up-to-date full backup of your system drive (i.e., the drive where Windows is installed)

  • An up-to-date full backup of the Windows System State; a System State backup includes the registry, Internet Information Server metabase, and COM registrations

  • An up-to-date full backup of the Windows and Exchange configuration data. Configuration data include settings for administrative groups, servers, security, and virtual servers. Configuration data are stored in the Active Directory and the registry

  • An up-to-date full backup of the Exchange Information Store databases

  • Written procedures for recovering a mailbox, restoring a database, and rebuilding an Exchange server after a disaster

Collecting and maintaining this list of CD-ROMs, backup media, and procedures is only the first step toward being prepared for disaster. The second, and equally important, step is to periodically practice recovering mailboxes, restoring databases, and rebuilding servers. In the midst of a disaster is not the time to be testing your procedures for the first time. When a disaster strikes, you should already be comfortable with the recovery process. Remember that your users cannot send or receive e-mail during the recovery process. Unless you enjoy responding to impatient users, you should do everything possible to ensure that the recovery process will be quick and painless. Having practiced the recovery process also will allow you to make confident predictions on how soon the server will be available.

Get more "12 ways to protect your Exchange 2003 data," Return to the main page.

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.

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