Thursday, November 29, 2007

Exchange 2007 SP1 is ready...

At last, Exchange 2007 SP1 is available for download. Check out the following link:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Interesting Behavior in Backup Exec 11d

If you have a combination of Microsoft Exchange Server and Symantec Backup Exec in your environment, you are probably aware of the new (approximately one year old) feature in Backup Exec 11d which eliminates the need for a seperate Mailbox-Level (or Brick Level) backups. With 11d, you can perform mail-level restores from your Information Store level backups. Very neat, isn't it? Well, if you can configure it properly, yes.

According to administrator's guide and web documentation, all you need is a dedicated mailbox for the Backup Exec Service Account if you are using tape devices as backup targets.
When you define your backup job, you should also select the "Enable the restore of individual mail messages and folders from Information Store backups" check box intuitively.

Interestingly, this configuration only seems to work for Exchange 2007. If you have Exchange 2003 in your environment and try to perform mail message restores from the Information Store backups, you will notice that you cannot even browse the list of mailboxes in the Restore Wizard screen. Solution to this problem lies in the general options screen. Go to Tools menu, select Options, then select Exchange under Job Defaults. You will see "Enable the restore of individual mail messages and folders from Information Store backups" option already selected. Additionally, don't be fooled by the misleading "not recommended" section, and select "Enable legacy mailbox support (not recommended - use information store instead)" check box.

Remember, you still do not want to do mailbox level backups. After the legacy mailbox support is enabled, test these new settings with a new Exchange Information Store backup. You will see that the individual mailboxes can be browsed and individual messages can be restored after these changes. As a final reminder, I have to add that this information applies to Backup Exec 11d Build 7170. Maybe Symantec will decide to change at least the "not recommended" section in the following releases, who knows?

My recent experiences with Backup Exec showed me that this behavior is not consistent among all Exchange 2003 and Backup Exec 11d deployments. So far I haven't been able to define the exact conditions to reproduce the problem. I have done two implementations with Exchange 2003 and Backup Exec 11d which required the settings above for mail level restores, and done one recent implementation which did not require any modifications and worked as described in the Admin Guide. I will try to update this post if I can find more information on this topic.