Exchange backup with TimeFinder
By Brian Henderson
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Most of the time, Microsoft will advocate an online backup of your Exchange databases, however you may be in a situation where a storage based offline backup will suit your needs better. Microsoft has bent their strict requirements for offline backups and restores in a few situations.
Although most documentation you can find on the microsoft.com site will tell you that online backups are their recommended approach, Microsoft will also support an offline backup solution. The usual complaints about offline backups are that users will not be able to access their mail during backup periods, logs will not be able to be replayed against an offline backup copy, and that no physical damage check is run on the backup copy of the database.
In some cases, only 1/3 of that statement is true. Many products offer a solution for offline backup that integrates with the necessary consistency checkers to become a MSFT supported solution. I know EMC's TimeFinder Exchange Module and EDM products will have to take down Exchange services, however it does run consistency checks before and after the backup takes place.
There are also simple steps to take to be able to replay logs against the backup copy of the database. Also, since the copy is done behind the scenes at the storage system level, we are talking about SCSI or Fibre Channel speeds versus network speed. You get faster Exchange backups/restores off the storage-based copy.
Just think, you can restore from virus attacks in minutes, as opposed to hours.
About the author: Brian Henderson is an MCSE and a Corporate Systems Engineer at EMC Corporation (http://www.emc.com/). For the past three years he has provided consulting and advice on storage solutions and backup methods for enterprise-level Microsoft customers.