While the importance of backing up sensitive and important company’s data is undisputed, Bacula in any case recommends performing backups of your other data types – MS Exchange servers and their contents, for example. This prevents you from losing both the system data and your mailbox’s contents if your Exchange server suddenly encounters some sort of error.

Like with most data that can be backed up, there are pre-installed system backup applications that can handle backups and there’s also a plethora of third-party open source Exchange backup software, as well. In this article we’ll be going over the older Windows backup tool called NTBACKUP, the modern Windows Server Backup software with Exchange backup capabilities, as well as Bacula’s especially powerful capabilities as free Exchange backup software.

Exchange server 2003 backup with NTBACKUP

First of all, Exchange System Manager should be installed on the backup server. The program itself starts up with the “ntbackup” command from the “Run” window.

Next you will be prompted to choose one of the options to start working with the software: backup wizard, restore wizard or the automated system recovery wizard.

You will also be prompted to choose the backup save location, the backup name, and you will have an option to verify the data you have backed up afterwards.

After starting the backup process you will be able to see the information about your backup, including the backup percentage completed so far. You will be presented with the option to view the event log to check for errors after the process is complete.

Exchange Server 2010 backup with Windows Server Backup

The interaction with Windows Server Backup for Exchange server backup purposes is slightly more complicated, and consists of several important steps:

  1. First of all, you’ll have to install the software in question from the Add Features Wizard.
  2. If your Exchange Replication Service VSS is running, it needs to be disabled for the process to begin.
  3. Log in to the Exchange server and check if you have permissions to perform mailbox backup and restore operations.
  4. Start up the Windows Server Backup software and select the “Backup Once…” option from the context menu.
  5. The backup customization is available with the “Different options” setting.
  6. For example, you can choose the backup type, between Full backup and custom one, allowing you to backup specific volumes only.
  7. Next you will also be able to specify the backup target location, as well as to choose between VSS full and VSS copy backup.
  8. This concludes the backup setup part, you can safely start up the process and wait for it to be done.

Exchange backup with Bacula

Microsoft Exchange has a consistent database location that you can work with, usually placed at:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\Mailbox\First Storage Group

The knowledge about this location and Bacula’s VSS support allows you to safely backup your Exchange database via snapshots. The VSS support has appeared in Bacula’s free Exchange backup software at the version 2.0 and has been consistent ever since.

There are a few important things to mention about this Exchange backup tool. Firstly,  VSS Writer for Exchange can be disabled for your Windows Server version, you will be able to see it in the VSS message log that will look like this:

12-Apr 08:49 exchange-fd: VSS Writer (BackupComplete): "System Writer", State: 0x1 (VSS_WS_STABLE)

12-Apr 08:49 exchange-fd: VSS Writer (BackupComplete): "FRS Writer", State: 0x1 (VSS_WS_STABLE)

12-Apr 08:49 exchange-fd: VSS Writer (BackupComplete): "MSDEWriter", State: 0x1 (VSS_WS_STABLE)

The lack of Exchange Writer entry means that your VSS Writer for Exchange is disabled, and you’ll have to enable it to allow for advanced solutions like Bacula to utilize VSS for quicker and safer backups in general, not only Exchange database ones.

Of course, Bacula is not just about Exchange backup tools. This open source Exchange backup software is also capable of performing many other cross-organizational backup functions and works with a plethora of different databases, virtual machines, file types, formats, storage destinations and so on. Learn more about Bacula’s capabilities here.

If you’re also interested in Hyper V Backup, check out Bacula’s solution.