Is This "Old School Backup Method Right For You?


Do you have Microsoft Exchange?

Is it critical to your organization?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, whether you work in IT or the business side of the enterprise, you get it; your company’s in a bind when Exchange is temporarily unavailable. The situation becomes far more grim in the “doomsday” case where vital Exchange data is lost and cannot be recovered. These ideas might help.

It’s a given that you need Exchange to be always-on, always there, and always working. And you need data to be quickly recoverable, whether we’re talking about a single email or a whole Exchange database.

Needless to say, protecting Microsoft Exchange is key. There are several ways to accomplish these all-important backups, each with its own specific benefits and drawbacks. 

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be exploring all the ways to protect Exchange, exploring pros and cons, thinking through implications, and reflecting on best practices.

Today, let’s take a closer look at offline backups.

If you’ve worked in IT for any length of time, chances are you’re quite familiar with offline backups. This is an “old-school” backup technique; it’s been around for a long time. And for some business situations, it might work just fine. But it does have substantial drawbacks, and for many firms, it’s very inadequate.

The offline backup, like the name implies, involves taking Exchange “offline”. You dismount the database by stopping the Exchange Services, perform the backup, either manually or as part of the scheduled automatic backup procedure, and then restart the Exchange services to bring Exchange back on line.

Beware: Big Drawbacks Ahead!

The offline backup method can serve a useful purpose for you – it can give you the backup you need. But, as you may have already guessed, it has some big-time drawbacks and limitations:

Exchange is unavailable during the offline backup procedure – For a small operation that has specific daytime business hours, this may not be a problem. But for a large company with an around-the-clock schedule, this presents a major challenge. Why? Your “backup window” during which you can afford to have Exchange unavailable to you and your company is either very small or nonexistent.

A substantial amount of data is at risk – Think about it: If you rely on the offline method and have a very small backup window that happens once every twenty-four hours, and your employees are sending and receiving a lot of email during the day, that represents a bunch of data that’s at risk.

What if you accumulated a full day’s worth of emails that had not yet been backed up, and your Exchange Server crashed at the end of the day? You could have big trouble on your hands, right?

Slow recovery time – When you restore an Exchange database, expect it to take some time, especially if it’s a big file. Also, think about the environment in your office during this time. Exchange will have to be offline, and you could face the wrath of some very impatient coworkers. Something to consider…

Automated backup verification – Traditionally, backups have been notoriously unreliable. Maybe you’ve experienced this situation before: you run a backup thinking everything is OK with it, and then you need to restore a file and find out it’s not available.

Not only is this frustrating, it can cause a big problem for your business and could even cost you your job.  A key drawback of offline backups is that they don’t offer automated verification.  You’ll have to run a manual recovery of a file to verify the validity of the backup data.

A Free, Valuable Resource To Guide You

As you can see, offline backups have some pretty big limitations. In some situations, however, they may be all a company needs. It’s important that you do an analysis of your particular situation to determine what backup method is best for you.

We can help you. We’ve put together an eBook called Six Ways To A Smarter Microsoft Exchange Backup. It evaluates six distinct approaches for protecting your Exchange data. It will help you determine which one is right for you. Download your free copy now!