Exchange Server 2007 backup on Server 2008 using Windows Server Backup – in beta!

UPDATE: Exchange 2007 backup on Server 2008 is now possible thanks to a plug-in released with BackupAssist v5.2. Find out more.

Hi all,

Yes! We’ve just gone into beta with our plug-in into Windows Server Backup that supports backups of Exchange 2007 on Server 2008.

It will automatically detect if Exchange Server 2007 is installed on the machine, and if so, it will automatically instruct Windows Server Backup to use the VSS writer for Exchange to commit all databases before the backup. Then, the BackupAssist Exchange 2007 Plug-in for Windows Server Backup will verify the consistency of the Exchange databases, and once verified the backup will proceed.

You must, of course, make sure that you’ve selected the appropriate volumes to backup! If Exchange Server is on your E: drive, make sure you select E: for backup!

A record of the Exchange consistency check is provided in the backup report – and an example screenshot is provided below. I’ve tested this on both Windows Server 2008 with Exchange 2007, and also SBS 2008 (where the BackupAssist Exchange consistency checker replaces the Microsoft one).

Exchange Server 2007 Backup and consistency check on Server 2008

Now for the record, I really wish we had this available sooner. However, the reason for the delay is that Microsoft only released their API for Windows Server Backup on 22nd January 2009. That’s nearly a year after Server 2008 was released, giving Microsoft’s internal development teams nearly a one year head start on the public! Once we had access to the API, it took us less than 2 weeks to develop a solution and release it for public beta. Of course, you can imagine my frustration at Microsoft’s delay in releasing the API. And having spoken to a *lot* of resellers and sysadmins, I know you’re frustrated too that until now, you’ve not had a solution for backing up Exchange 2007 on Server 2008. But my rants are perhaps a story for another time.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone enjoys this beta and please provide us feedback (when contacting our tech support team, please attention correspondence to “Linus” to make sure it gets to me promptly).

17 thoughts on “Exchange Server 2007 backup on Server 2008 using Windows Server Backup – in beta!”

  1. i’m using BAckupassist to backup exchange 2003 (I have the brick lavel backup plugin also) and I’m happy with that!!
    I would like to know if this new plugin will delete log file on exchange 2007 and all other things that normally happens when you backup exchange 2003 with BAckup Assist and if there are news from Microsoft about thefeature of Windows Server Backup that allow to backup Exchange on windows server 2008 without having to backup the entire volume

    • Hi Gabriele,

      Great to hear that everything’s running well for you on Exchange 2003.

      Yes – the new plugin will delete the log file on Exchange 2007. It will also verify the integrity of your database files (as shown in the screenshot).

      And another big YES – regarding backing up Exchange 2007 on Server 2008 without having to back up the entire volume – we are developing this feature in our File Replication Engine and Rsync Engine so that you can simply copy the Exchange database files to another location – whether it is a local drive, or a remote Rsync server on the Internet.

      Thanks for your post!

    • I forgot to mention – as far as I know, Microsoft will not be allowing you to backup just Exchange databases – you must select the entire volume.

      That’s why you will need to use our File Replication or Rsync features. They are the ideal solution for what Microsoft left out!

  2. Thanks for your reply, I dont’ know if here’s the right place to ask these question, if you prefer another forum just let me know. Is it possible to have a restore with log transaction replication with your plugin? To be more clear; if i backup exchange 2007 with your plugin will I have the same restore procedure as I have when I backup my exchange 2003 on a windows 2003 server?

    • Hi Gabriele,

      I’m happy to answer your questions here – it will probably help out everyone else who has the same questions as well!

      If you back up using the plug-in for Windows Server Backup (the block-level imaging engine), then you can restore from within Windows Server itself, without using BackupAssist. This procedure is outlined here:

      Because this was done using VSS, the system knows exactly which files to restore to get your Exchange Server running again. It’s similar to how NTBackup allowed you to restore an Exchange Server, but everything was automatic. You don’t have to explicitly copy over the database or log files.

      We are also going to test an alternative manual restore process that will involve copying back individual database files, because there may be situations where you want to restore one information store but not another.

      When we build Exchange 2007 support into File Replication and Rsync, we’ll do it in a similar way to Windows Server Backup – that is, our restore console will know which files to restore and do it that way.

  3. With the plugin will there be brick level backup of mailboxes with SBS2009/Exch2007 ? Also, will this also be extended to work with Public Folders ?

    Will this be at the message level allowing restoration of individual messages ?

    Also, will there be or have you considered any facility restore messages based on key word ? For example, select a date range, enter text query “ProjectX” and mailbox range (All, individual or ad hoc selection) and then have the system restore messages that fit ? This could then also be extened to include public folders ?

  4. Hi David!

    Great to hear from you again!

    The add-in in Windows Server Backup (ie. imaging) is a monolithic approach, similar to how NTBackup was monolithic – the entire Exchange server is backed up and restored at once. However, we know it’s possible to manually restore individual storage groups, which we’ll be documenting as well.

    As for brick level backup – that’s also very important, and that’s handled by our Mailbox Add-on. (For those that don’t know, the current version of our Mailbox Add-on is based on Exmerge, which works great for Exchange 2003, but not so well for Exchange 2007).

    The brick level backup of mailboxes in Exch 2007 is something we’re currently working on right now. *Yes*, our current intention is that it will be extended to public folders, and yes, our restore facility will have filters involved. This means that the functionality of the new add-on will be greater than the old one (which didn’t do public folders). It will also support the Outlook 2003 PST file format, meaning that the file limit on individual PST files is >20 GB.

    The only thing to note is that it will require Outlook to be installed on the machine doing the export, but unlike the M$ Powershell solution, it will actually run on the server itself. It looks extremely unlikely that M$ will allow us to redistribute the Outlook DLLs, but we’ll try and see.

    We are still about 8 weeks away from releasing an update to our Mailbox Add-on.

    I also have to apologise that over the next few months, there are so many different releases in functionality regarding Exchange Server. The thing is, we like to release functionality as soon as it’s ready because some users only need some functionality. The downside is that the capabilities of BackupAssist are constnatly changing – but the upside is that it keeps on getting better!

    Thanks for your comment David – hope it helps!

  5. Hi David and others,

    We’ve actually figured out a way to get this new mailbox export to work without Outlook installed. The only downside is that it also has the 2 gb file limit, like Exmerge – but of course our add-on is designed to circumvent this limit anyway.

    So as it stands, the new version of our add-on will be able to run in two modes:

    – Outlook installed – PSTs are created as unicode PSTs, without the 2 GB limit
    – No outlook installed – PSTs are created as ANSI PSTs, with the 2 GB limit (same as Exmerge)

    So this is still about 8 weeks away, but it’s great to see how this solution will work.

    • Can’t you simply have your GUI pass parameters into Exchange powershell commandlets to achieve the mailbox export ?

      I don’t know many who would delight in installing Outlook on their SBS or Exchange Servers…

      Can BackupAssist be on another server and backup the SBS/Exchange servers remotely ?

  6. Hi David,

    Actually the BackupAssist solution will be very much easier to use and setup than the MS Powershell solution.

    With the MS Powershell solution, you need:
    – to install Exchange management tools 32 bit on a separate 32 bit OS
    – install MS Outlook on that separate 32 bit machine
    – run the Powershell scripts from that separate 32 bit machine
    ie. this is painful, requres another machine, requires additional installs, etc.

    With the BackupAssist solution, you will:
    – install BackupAssist on the server (or any remote machine on the network)
    – perform the mailbox backup where BA is installed
    – as mentioned before, you don’t need Outlook to be installed, unless you need unicode PST support
    – this new feature will contain ALL of the functionality available currently with Exmerge and Exchange 2003 without requiring Outlook… and MORE functionality if Outlook is installed.

    We are seeing if we can get permission to OEM the Outlook DLLs so you won’t need Outlook to be installed on the server. But apparently MS licensing have been very tough on past requests, but of course I hope that our request will be affirmative.

    And the answer to your final question re. remote backup is yes – you will be able to backup mailboxes remotely. We’re also experimenting with being able to backup the entire server remotely too, but that will be at a file level, and we haven’t yet put this last capability into our development roadmap.


  7. Linus,
    I am currently testing this solution on WS2K8 with Exchange 2007 in small domain; all is well. I notice that the install claims to be trial version with 30 until expiration. What will happen then? We would like to purchase the base module and mailbox addition – but would need to test both before we commit obviously. You mentioned 8 weeks until mailbox backup available. what to do in the intervening period?

  8. Hi Pete,

    The general policy with our software is that we like to enable everyone to try the software before buying.

    So when you’re happy with BackupAssist’s Exchange 2007 backup features, just purchase a base license.

    When our mailbox features are available, please contact us and we’ll issue you with a special trial for the Mailbox add-on so you can test it for 30 days and be happy with how it all works. Then when you’re happy with that, you can purchase it too.

    I hope this will meet your requirements of not running out of trial on the base license in the short term, and also being able to trial the new Mailbox features once they’re released.


  9. Hi Linus

    Great news and congrats to release such an important product before anyone else!

    I got a semi related question on BA. With Windows Backup (2008), I can backup continually to a set of disks. Windows seems to (after an initial full backup) make incremental backup, minimising backup times. As a result, some of my clients have been making backups every few hours. Is this the way BA works for image backups? What happens when the disk is full? I would imagine that this could happen pretty quickly if your exchange DB files are large, unless you use sector level backup…

    Feedback appreciated! Regards


  10. Hi Felix,

    BackupAssist actually schedules and manages the Windows Server Backup features – so it’s pretty much the same as your current setup, except that when we do the backup, we also put in the plug-in so that Exchange can be backed up properly.

    You certainly are able to backup every few hours. (Though in the current version of BackupAssist you’ll need to have multiple jobs for the different times of the day – create a job, and then clone it and set it to run at a different time. It’s on our to-do list to allow for multiple backups during the day for a given imaging job.) Disk space on the backup device is automatically managed, in that when it fills up, the oldest versions automatically get deleted.

    Hope this helps.

    Sorry I didn’t reply to this earlier – I hadn’t seen this post. I’m going to see if we can configure the blog so I get notified when people reply.


  11. Linus,
    Have you an update on the development of the individual mailbox plug in for ES2007 on WS2K8?
    p.s. we have bought the base BackupAssist program.

  12. I just used the trial version on Server 2008 R2/Exchange 2007 SP3 to commit the transaction logs and save me from a nightmare. With 350 mailboxes the backup took just under 1 hour. Quick and easy to use. Moving to buy! You guys rock!


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