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New and innovative products provide many more choices to protect Microsoft Exchange depending on your recovery point objective and recovery time objective requirements.


Email is now firmly established as a mission-critical application for many businesses, and more than 60% of enterprises use Microsoft Exchange for their corporate email, according to Gartner Inc. This widespread corporate adoption of Microsoft Exchange, coupled with its mission-critical nature and growing electronic discovery requirements, make protecting it a more complicated proposition than just performing simple backups and recoveries.

Recovery time objectives (RTOs), recovery point objectives (RPOs) and cost are what drive the level of protection businesses provide for their Microsoft Exchange environments. Companies that can withstand outages of up to one day may consider the use of the free Microsoft Windows Server 2003 NTBackup utility to protect their Microsoft Exchange data stores. But enterprises that need their Exchange storage groups backed up and recovered in seconds or minutes, either onsite or offsite, may need a combination of products to deliver the appropriate levels of recovery and availability they require.

Backup products for Exchange fall into three classes:

  • Backup software with specific Exchange agents
  • High-availability software and/or appliances
  • Archival

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  • software
Backup software products first install their client on the Exchange server and then install an agent that interacts directly with the Exchange database. The level of granularity the agent provides for the backup and restore of individual components of the Exchange database separates average backup software products from above average ones.

The Exchange agents of the big three backup software products--EMC Corp. NetWorker, IBM Corp. Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and Symantec Corp. Veritas NetBackup--each support full, differential, incremental and synthetic backups of the Exchange database, and permit admins to select specific Exchange storage groups to back up and restore. The strengths of these products lie in their scheduling and policy/media management abilities, which are desirable for firms that need to schedule their Exchange backups centrally or perform storage-area network-based backups using multiple media types.

This was first published in September 2007

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