Microsoft Exchange is one of the most popular business messaging and collaboration tools in today's enterprise. However when it comes to backing up Exchange, the Microsoft Exchange Server has some limitations that produce significant bottlenecks.
The problem lies in the Exchange Backup API, which all third party backup products must use to access the Exchange databases. This API is single-threaded, which can throttle performance of a fast backup system.
Given a sufficiently fast backup system, there are several ways to improve backup performance with Microsoft Exchange. One of the most straightforward is to back up multiple Exchange databases simultaneously. The backup operation for each database runs its own instance of the Backup API, which considerably speeds the backup -- assuming the other components, such as tape drives, disk performance and communications links are up to the task. Given the appropriate backup software, you can use a single tape drive by interleaving the data on the tape.
Hewlett Packard discusses the problems of backing up Microsoft Exchange and the possible solutions in the context of its Ultrium tape system in a white paper titled "Performance Tuning Microsoft Exchange 2000 using HP StorageWorks Ultrium 460 and Veritas NetBackup 4.5".
Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.