Suggestions to improve Exchange Server disaster recovery

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Exchange administration
Exchange Server disaster recovery
I have been promoted to Exchange administrator, and I was wondering if you could offer some general suggestions to improve our Exchange Server disaster recovery.

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I just got a job as the messenging engineer for a large firm. I’ve used Exchange for ten years, but now I’m going to have to start specializing in it. I quickly had to get up to speed, so I was curious about the same things you are, and how they implemented them here.
First things first, you have to start thinking a little more proactive in your disaster recovery approach. Yeah, you should be prepared for disaster, but the #1 priority is keeping everything up and running. Those smaller fires will happen a lot more often than a severe disaster.
They use Microsoft Clustering here, which i was unfamiliar with. When there’s a failure, we’re down for less than 30 seconds while the cluster switches to another node. Without clustering, you’d be looking at an extreme problem if the hardware on your server went down without clustering.
Next, is how you handle restoring single mailboxes and messages, so you never have to deal with restoring an entire information store just for a single mailbox. We use Commvault, and restoring deleted emails couldn’t be easier.
I actually haven’t spent much time worrying about the MAJOR problems just yet, like what we’d do if the server room flooded. Many people will say building a lab server and restoring a copy of your production information store, and running eseutil against it to fix corruption problems, etc. I’ve yet to start testing this, but I’m sure it’s important, considering defraging and checking the database is part of normal maintainence anyways.

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Your options also depend on what version of Exchange you are using. LCR and CCR are only available in Exchange 2007. If you are using another version please provide those details so we can make more targeted suggestions. Thanks
~ technochic

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  • DBTK
    In the name of full disclosure I work for Double-Take Software. Clustering is certainly a good solution for high availability and with the improvements with failover clustering it is even better able to help provide disaster recovery by removing some of the previous MSCS requirements like same subnet and 500MS UDP round trip. This can help you distribute the nodes between greater distances but you still have the shared storage requirement. Depending on your disaster recovery infrastructure, do you have a WAN, hotsite or sister office to use as a DR location, you could use host based asynchronous replication or even a hardware based sychronous replication solution that would replicate all changes from one location to another. Typically, in the event of a failure you simply redirect active/directory (automatically or manulaly) to point at that DR exchange server name which once the database is mounted will redirect users to begin using and can be available as little 5-15 minutes depending on how long it takes to mount the exhcnage stores. I know that MS has LCR and CCR functions to in Exchange 2007 that can help provide some features as well. Those are a few options for Exchange DR. Hope this helps,
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