Exchange 2007 Backup and Restore - The Minimum
In larger organizations, the overhead associated with backing up every server in an organization (where every server is already redundant in some way) can become onerous and expensive. In those types of organizations, with dedicated virtual servers for a specific feature or multiple pieces of physical hardware set up clustered or otherwise redundant (round robin, network load balancing, etc.); you are primarily interested in only backing up what makes a particular server unique.
You are well aware that in the case of a catastrophic failure, you can "spin up" a replacement in a couple of hours, be it virtual or physical hardware. It would take longer than that to execute a full restore following all the proper steps.
Therefore, many applications, Exchange included, provide you a mechanism for backing up and restoring only those "things you need".
Let's take the example of a Client Access Server (CAS) crashing catastrophically. For example, a piece of hair falls on the motherboard and it fizzles, taking out the motherboard AND the directly attached storage (DAS). [[OK: not a particularly likely example, but still illustrative.]]
What do you need to have saved in order to CYA (Cover Your A$$)??
Your first option is, of course, the old standard: full system backup, which you can restore after doing a bare metal install of Windows Server to compatible hardware.
The second option, which is a bit more detailed but MUCH quicker, if you've prepared for it, goes as follows:
1] Image a new machine, and name it the same as the old machine
2] Install Exchange, using the /mode:RecoverServer switch, with all other options set to the SAME as you used to install the original server (this is when using DEFAULTS can really save your bacon -- or having excellent server installation documentation)
3] Restore the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Exchange registry key (which you smartly exported and backed up)
4] Restore the ClientAccess Exchange directory (which you also had smartly exported and backed up), which is located by default at C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange\ClientAccess
5] Restore the IIS metabase settings by executing restorevdir.ps1 (since you had executed savevdir.ps1 to back those settings up!)
And wow. You are done.
If you have practiced this process, and your imaging process is fast; you can probably be done in less than 30 minutes. Much less than the two hours or so that a full recovery is probably is going to take you.
Granted, the above is simply an overview. You need to work out the specific details for your environment, but it really isn't that hard. Here are some resources to help you:
Actually, writing a script to do this might be a good project, if I ever get a few free minutes. :-)
You can also extend this concept for generating clones and redundant servers within an Exchange organization. If you examine the various text files, you will note that modifying them for other server names is not that difficult.
Until next time...
As always, if there are items you would like me to talk about, please drop me a line and let me know!