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But there's some question about whether firms need all of these features, which may be cumbersome to manage and use. For instance, IBM's TSM requires admins to first recover the entire storage group, mount the storage group in Exchange 2003 as a Recovery Storage Group, identify the message or mailbox that needs to be restored, and then copy it to the appropriate location in the production mail store. Exchange 2000 recoveries are even more time-consuming because admins may need to stop the entire Exchange 2000 server to recover specific messages or mailboxes.

Instead, support for "brick-level" recoveries of individual items like email messages are part of the standard by which backup software should be measured. These allow admins to select and restore one email at a time directly into the production mail store without first recovering the entire storage group.

Several backup software products, including BakBone Software Inc.'s NetVault:Backup, CA's ARCserve Backup and Symantec's Veritas NetBackup, offer support for brick-level recoveries, but users may need to select specific configuration options within the backup software to obtain them. CA's ARCserve offers both object-level and full backup options.

Another important feature offered by only a few programs is the ability to restore data from backups of earlier versions of Exchange into the current version. Backups of older versions of Exchange aren't compatible with current releases. To perform restores,

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most backup software products require admins to first create a server with the appropriate version of Exchange that matches the version of the backed up data store before the restore can occur. However, with growing legal discovery requirements and more companies planning upgrades to Exchange 2007, transparent restorations from previous versions of Exchange into current versions make this a new corporate must-have.

CA's ARCserve Backup supports release-independence, assuming the administrator backs the data up using the object-level backup; if ARCserve Backup's full backup option is used, release-independence doesn't apply. CommVault's Simpana goes one step further and supports the restoration of data created in newer versions of Microsoft Exchange to older releases.

This was first published in September 2007

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