SEP sesam supports the backup of Exchange Servers as well as Exchange Server databases in a Database Availability Group (DAG) environment. Exchange DAGs are a set of up to 16 Exchange mailbox servers hosting a set of databases; they are the primary fault-tolerant mechanism that uses database replication to ensure efficient recovery and high availability. If you are running Microsoft Exchange in a DAG configuration, make sure to check the Prerequisites and Considerations for backing up Exchange DAG before creating a backup task and backing up DAG.
There are four different backup levels available for Exchange Servers: FULL, DIFF, INCR and COPY. These levels (FULL, DIFF, INCR) are defined by Microsoft as:
- Normal (or Full): A normal backup backs up the directory or Exchange store in its entirety, as well as the log files. To restore from a normal backup, only one normal backup is needed. A normal backup marks the objects it has backed up so that incremental and differential backups have context. This is accomplished by backing up the entire database and all log files, and then purging the log files.
- Copy: The copy backup is the same as a normal backup, except that no marking takes place to give incremental and differential context. This means that performing an incremental backup after a copy backup is equivalent to performing it before a copy backup. Use a copy backup to get a full backup of the directory or Exchange store without affecting the status of ongoing incremental or differential backups.
- Incremental: An incremental backup backs up the subset of the component that has changed since the last normal or incremental backup. Then it marks these objects as backed up. To restore from incremental backups, all incremental backups since the last normal backup and the normal backup are needed. An incremental backup only backs up the log files and then purges them.
- Differential: A differential backup backs up changes in the directory or Exchange store that have occurred since the last normal backup. To restore from differential backups, one differential backup and one normal backup are required. A differential backup backs up only the log files, but does not purge them.
|Circular logging must be disabled for INCR and DIFF backups
To perform incremental (INCR) or differential (DIFF) backups of Exchange databases, circular logging must be disabled. If circular logging is enabled, incremental or differential backups will fail and only the information from the last FULL backup can be recovered.
Configuring Exchange Server backup
Create a new backup task to back up Exchange Server.
- From Main Selection -> Tasks -> By Clients, select your Exchange Server and click New Backup Task. The New backup task window opens.
- Specify the Source. You can either browse for the source or enter it manually.
If you select the source by browsing, the task type and task name are set automatically. If you enter the source manually, you have to enter the task name and select Exchange Server as the task type.
- Optionally, in the Exclude list select the files and folders which you do not want to back up by using the big browse button (next to the fields Source and Exclude list) and selecting your source for exclusion. For details on the different exclusion options, see Creating Exclude List.
- Skip the option Execution off (previously Execution is blocked; relevant only if you want to disable the execution of the already configured backup task) and the options under Exchange server DAG Settings (relevant only for DAG-related tasks, as described in the Exchange DAG procedure).
- Optionally, by clicking the corresponding tabs in the New Backup Task window, you can further refine your backup task by setting additional options, such as pre/post backup and restore commands, set encryption or compress data, specify OS credentials, consolidate individual tasks under a specific task group and assign a task to the schedule.
- Click OK to create the task.
- If you want to start the newly created task immediately, right-click the name of the task and click Immediate Start. If you want to create a periodic backup, you have to create a schedule for your backup task: Click New schedule under Main Selection -> Scheduling -> Schedules and set up a schedule. For more details, see Creating a schedule.
- Once you have configured a schedule, you need to create a new backup event for it. Disable circular logging on the Microsoft Exchange Server if you want to run incremental and differential backups. For general information on creating a backup event, see Creating a Backup Event.
|You can add your backup task to an existing schedule by double-clicking the backup task, selecting the tab Schedules and adding it to one or more schedules. You can also group your backup tasks to task groups. For details, see Adding a Task to the Task Group.
You can view the status of your backup jobs by selecting Last Backup State in the Main Selection window. The backup status overview provides detailed information on the last run of backup jobs, including the task name, start and stop time of the last backup, backup level, data size, throughput, assigned media pool, etc.
|You can check the details of your backups online by using the Web UI. For details, see SEP sesam Web UI.
Configuring Exchange DAG backup
Considerations for backing up Exchange DAG
- You can back up any DAG member and restore your data to any DAG member. You can also specify that only the selected nodes should be backed up by adding them to the same location.
- Follow Microsoft’s preferred method for backing up the Exchange DAG environment and replicate all active databases on only one DAG node. You should back up all passive databases only from this passive DAG node. Setting up a passive node exclusively for backups will help reduce the impact on your production environment.
Consider the following factors when backing up Exchange DAG:
- Add all DAG nodes as clients. For general details, see Configuring Clients.
- Create a new location dedicated to DAG only and simply add all DAG nodes to this location. For details, see Configuring Location.
- Create a new DAG task group to which you will later add DAG DB tasks. Only use this task group for your DAG backups. For details, see Adding a Task to the Task Group.
- Select a specific DAG node (e.g., the first one) and create a separate backup task for each DB. Do not repeat this step for other DAG nodes! When creating a backup task, make sure to specify the following options:
- Set the appropriate database copy mode for each task, e.g., Passive copy preferred. Note that it is recommended to back up a passive copy only, as this allows you to offload the backup process. If you back up an active DAG database despite the recommendation, you should be aware that the load on the active database is greatly increased – a negative performance impact on the productive Exchange operation might be significant!
- Set the option Allow to execute on any DAG host to allow a backup copy of the database to run on any DAG host that has a required database copy. For more details on the above options, see the Configuring the Exchange DAG backup task section below.
- Make sure the individual DAG nodes have both, a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) and a short name specified. You can add the client's short name or FQDN in the client properties, the Interfaces field. For details on the client properties, see Client properties.
- To perform Exchange DAG backups, the SEP sesam service user must have the required permissions for the operation, i.e. the service user must be a member of the following groups:
- Domain Users
- Organization Management
|The Domain Users group must be assigned to the service user as the primary group! For more information, see Required user account for Exchange DAG backup.
If the service is running with the local system account, SEP sesam will not be able to back up the Exchange server data.
Configuring Exchange DAG backup task
Once all your DAG nodes are added to the same location (dedicated to DAG only) and a new DAG task group is already created, you can configure backup tasks for the selected DAG node. Note that you only need to configure a set of tasks for one DAG node (e.g., the first one); you have to create a separate backup task for each DB. Do not configure backup tasks for other DAG nodes!
- From Main Selection -> Tasks -> By Clients, select your Exchange Server and click New Backup Task. The New Backup Task window opens.
- Specify the Source. Browse and select a single database under Source, for example, Mailbox DAGtabase. Note that you have to create a separate backup task for each DB.
If you select the source by browsing, the task type and task name are set automatically. If you enter the source manually, you have to enter the task name and select Exchange Server DAG as the task type.
- Skip the option Execution off (only relevant if you want to disable the execution of the already configured backup task). Then select Database state under the Exchange Server DAG settings.
Exchange 2016 DAG members can host a mix of active and passive database copies. The primary copy of a mailbox database is an active copy, while the secondary database copies are passive copies. You can back up both an active and passive copy within DAG. However, it is recommended to backup only the passive copy to avoid any negative impact on the performance of productive Exchange operations.
The following options allow you to select the appropriate database copy mode:
- Active copy only: Back up from the active copy only. Note that backing up the active copy will affect Exchange performance. If not available, backup is aborted and nothing is backed up.
- Passive copy only: Back up from the passive copy only. If it is not available, the backup will be cancelled and nothing will be backed up. It is recommended to back up only from a passive copy, as this allows you to offload the backup process.
- Active copy preferred: Back up from the active copy if it is available. If the active copy is not available, the passive copy of the database will be backed up instead.
- Passive copy preferred: Back up from the passive copy unless no healthy passive copy is available. In the latter case, the active copy of the database will be backed up instead.
- The check box Allow to execute on any DAG host provides the option to run a database copy backup on any DAG host that has a required database copy. By default, this option is not selected and the backup will only run on the specified Exchange server.
- If you want to ensure that only the specified server is used for the backup, do not select this option.
- If this option is selected, then in cases where database copies are replicated between multiple servers and the required database copy is not available on the specified Exchange server, SEP sesam will perform a backup of the first available Exchange server within the same DAG that holds the required database copy. The prerequisite for using this option is that this second Exchange server is also configured as a SEP sesam Client with a backup permission. If the retrieved second Exchange server (DAG node) differs from the name of the SEP sesam Client, an additional matching is done using client's interface setting.
For example, SEP sesam Server has two clients: DAG1 and DAG2. DAG1 is internally configured as exchdag1.contoso.com and DAG2 as exchdag2.contoso.com. A backup task is created to back up the database MDB1 passive copy with the option Allow to execute on any DAG host. SEP sesam checks the first host DAG1 for the required database MDB1 passive copy and receives the response that the MDB1 passive copy is available on exchdag2.contoso.com. If this information does not map to any of the configured hosts, a backup will fail with the error message that the client exchdag2.contoso.com is not yet configured in SEP sesam. In such a case, the administrator must configure an alternative name for the second DAG host. The client's interface (hostname) is set in the Client properties (Clients -> select location -> double-click the client -> Interfaces). For details, see How can I configure a backup using another network or interface.
- If you have already created a DAG task group, switch to the Task Groups tab and add your newly created task to the DAG task group. If you haven't created a DAG task group yet, skip this step and create it once your task is configured. For details, see Adding a Task to the Task Group.
- By clicking the corresponding tabs in the New Backup Task window, you can further refine your backup task by setting additional options, such as pre/post backup and restore commands, encryption or compression of data, etc.
- Click OK to create the task.
- Then repeat the procedure and create a separate task for each DB in a DAG node (e.g., the first one) and add all created tasks to the DAG task group. Do not configure backup tasks for other DAG nodes!
- To create a periodic backup for your DAG environment, you have to create a schedule for it: Click New Schedule under Main Selection -> Scheduling -> Schedules and set up a schedule. For more details, see Creating a schedule.
- Once you have configured a schedule, you need to create a new backup event for a DAG task group. Disable circular logging on the Microsoft Exchange Server if you want to run incremental and differential backups. For general information on creating a backup event, see Creating a Backup Event.
- You can also start the backup of a DAG task or task group immediately by right-clicking the DAG backup task (Tasks by Clients window) or DAG task group (Tasks by Groups window) and then selecting the Immediate Start option.
You can view the status of your backup jobs in the GUI (Monitoring -> Last Backup State or Job State -> Backups) or SEP sesam Web UI. The backup status overview provides detailed information about the last run of backup jobs, including the task name, start and stop time of the last backup, backup level, data size, throughput, assigned media pool, etc.
If you have any problems with Exchange, such as Exchange backup fails with VSS API error due to missing Microsoft Exchange VSS writer, check Exchange troubleshooting.