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Best Practises for Testing the Restoration of an Exchange Server

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Hi All,




We are running

- Multi Server Version 7.5.370

- Driver Update and Hot Fix version


- Windows 2003 Web Edition SP1 Version 5.2

Server Hardware is

- HP Proliant ML310 G4, tape drive is HP LTO Ultrium-2 Drive SCSI Revision S53D


Second of all:


I want to be able to restore my exchange server. Mostly to confirm that backups are working well and to document the procedure so that in the event of a disaster we know what is needed to be done.


Our DC and Exchange server is on our Windows SBS 2003 Server. Now to restore exchange I understand that restoring as it is would replace the current exchange database, which we certainly do not want to do for this test. Therefore we would need to setup a test environment.


I have found these instructions http://kb.dantz.com/display/2/articleDirect/index.asp?aid=7926&r=0.3668329 which I is for Exchange 2000. Is the process much the same for Exchange 2003? Also, has anyone else done this sort of test in a SBS 2003 environment? And what were your experiences. For me to set up a test environment, I am basically going to have to fully restore our SBS server... so that I can get AD and Exchange working together. This will be a great test, but I don't particularly have the hardware to do so. Any suggestions?


Could I possibly install SBS in a VM environment? All without affecting our licensing as well?! Any SBS users that have been through this before, I would definitely appreciate any help.



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If you have more than 5 users (active directory) on the Small business server I would not recommend running a virtual server backup test. If you have less than 5 I would try it in the off hours as long as your Small Business server has a lot of ram.


My 2 cents on an ideal test

You have an HP g4 so the likelyhood of you outgrowing or replacing that server because of age is not likely. Buy an older g2 (ml310, ml350 or dl380) from a dealer or from ebay $200-$300 run the test then resell it for the same amount when you are done. Compare this temporary cost, to the cost of losing your data or consider it a training cost. I don't see a good way to solve your test problem without throwing money at it.


Can you create a dummy mail user, back it up, then try to restore that users mailbox? Would this satisfy your requirement?



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We have approximately 40 users currently and are growing quite rapidly at the moment. There will most likely be another 5 recruits in the next 3 months.


Also, the HP G4 is just used for Retrospect. Our SBS Server is a ML350 G3. I understand that to do this test, we are going to have to throw money at it, and am willing to do it, I just wanted to know if there are any ways of minimizing the overall cost, or even if there was a way to streamline to process to make it easy enough to test on a regular basis.


Creating the dummy mail user sounds like a good idea, but I would prefer to know that should our SBS server die, that I would be able to fully restore our Exchange Server. Our company heavily relies on the internet/email (as we are a web-based company).


Currently we backup the Exchange Server in Retrospect and not any of the mailboxes. Which at the time it was setup sounded like a great idea. I'm not entirely certain now. Would it be better to do just a file backup of the DB files for Exchange and then backup the mailboxes and public store?


If we did a file backup of the DB files then I could restore them and attach them as a Recovery Storage Group (which I know retrospect doesn't support, but it could work)? Has anyone done that before?

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