How to Rsync Exchange Server 2007 databases and other VSS applications

In v5.2.2 of BackupAssist, released on April 9th 2009, we added in the ability for the Rsync module in BackupAssist to notify VSS aware applications of the backup.

This includes Exchange 2007. Our support for Exchange 2007 includes:

  • Performing a consistency check on the Exchange databases (mandatory for a good backup)
  • Correctly pruning the logs after the backup is complete

This functionality enables you to correctly backup your Exchange databases, and any other VSS aware applications (like Hyper-V, SharePoint and SQL 2008) to an offsite Rsync server.

Follow the following instructions to enable the backup of VSS aware applications:

  1. Set up your Rsync job as normal
  2. On the Open files tab (pictured below), check the “Enable VSS writers” checkbox.
    Rsync VSS writers for application backup support
  3. If you want to prune (truncate) the Exchange logs, select the “Full” option immediately below. Otherwise, select “Copy” – this will leave the logs in place.
  4. In the Files and folders tab, select the underlying files and directories of the applications that you want to back up. For Exchange 2007, that’s typically the Mailbox directory that contains First Storage Group and Second Storage Group. By default on SBS 2008, it’s at C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\Mailbox

Performance wise, Rsync does a very good job at identifying the in-file deltas on your Exchange Database Files (*.edb files). You can see the results of some performance testing we’ve done in our lab.

In terms of restore options, you can:

  1. Restore individual information stores over your existing stores by stopping the relevant store, and copying back the entire directory from your backup.
  2. Restore to a recovery storage group by following the following instructions but restoring your files from the Rsync backup instead of the image backup

Notes: Our Exchange Consistency Check currently works on Exchange 2007 only. We are working on supporting Exchange 2003 in an upcoming release. We’re also working on a user interface that allows you to select entire applications instead of the underlying filesystem (so Step 4 becomes easier), and to restore VSS applications as well without manually stopping services, copying files and restarting services. This should be available within a few months.

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