Archive for November, 2010



Now the following post has some parts from our friends at Exchangeserverpro.com. Please follow them on Twitter – @Exchservpro. Instead of re-inventing the wheel here I’d post some of their great content from the following two links..

Exchange 2010 CAS backup and recovery

and

Exchange 2010 Hub Transport backup and recovery

 

Now understand these steps listed below are if you are NOT going to be doing bare-metal or full server backups. Those obviously would be the easiest route.

Planning the Client Access Server Backup

As you plan the Client Access server backup strategy there are different techniques that you can consider depending on your requirements.

Backing up Everything

A full system backup of the Exchange 2010 Client Access server, along with a working Active Directory, will have all of the required information to recover the Client Access server.  Naturally this backup takes the longest to run, and will use up the most backup storage.

Backup up the Minimum

To reduce backup storage and keep the backup time frame shorter the minimum data on the Client Access server can be backed up.  This involves backing up the system state of the server, and configuration files stored in the \ClientAccess path of the Exchange Server 2010 installation folder (C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V14 by default).

Backing up Nothing

It may be practical to not back up the Client Access server at all if:

  • There are multiple, redundant Client Access servers deployed (ie Client Access Server Array)
  • The SSL certificates are exported or retrievable from elsewhere
  • Customizations to the Client Access server virtual directories can be quickly reapplied using an existing script

If all of those conditions are true then the Client Access server may not need to be backed up at all.

Backing Up and Restoring Client Access Servers

In this demonstration a Client Access server has been configured as a single-node NLB cluster and Exchange 2010 CAS array.

Exchange 2010 Client Access server configured with NLB

Exchange 2010 Client Access server configured with NLB

The external URL has also been configured.

[PS] C:\>Get-OwaVirtualDirectory | fl name, *URL*

Name            : owa (Default Web Site)
Url             : {}
Exchange2003Url :
FailbackUrl     :
InternalUrl     : https://ex3.exchangeserverpro.local/owa
ExternalUrl     : https://mail.exchangeserverpro.local/owa
Recovering an Exchange 2010 Client Access Server

Because most of the Client Access server configurtion is stored in Active Directory when a Client Access server has failed you can recover the server using the following procedure.

  1. Install a new server to host the Client Access server role
  2. Configure the server to have the same name, IP address, and domain membership as the server that failed
  3. Install the Exchange Server 2010 pre-requisites
  4. Perform a recovery mode install of Exchange Server 2010

To run Exchange Server 2010 setup in Recovery Mode use the following command from an elevated command prompt.

setup /m:recoverserver

Setup performs a server recovery using the configuration information stored in Active Directory.

Welcome to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unattended Setup

By continuing the installation process, you agree to the license terms of
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. If you don't accept these license terms,
please cancel the installation. To review these license terms, please go to

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150127&clcid=0x409/

...............
No key presses were detected.  Setup will continue.
Preparing Exchange Setup

    Copying Setup Files              ......................... COMPLETED

The following server roles will be recovered
    Client Access Role
    Management Tools

Performing Microsoft Exchange Server Prerequisite Check

    Client Access Role Checks         ......................... COMPLETED

Configuring Microsoft Exchange Server

    Preparing Setup                  ......................... COMPLETED
    Stopping Services                ......................... COMPLETED
    Copying Exchange Files           ......................... COMPLETED
    Restoring Services               ......................... COMPLETED
    Client Access Server Role         ......................... COMPLETED
    Exchange Management Tools        ......................... COMPLETED
    Finalizing Setup.                ......................... COMPLETED

The Microsoft Exchange Server setup operation completed successfully.
Setup has made changes to operating system settings that require a reboot to tak
e effect. Please reboot this server prior to placing it into production.

After the reboot you can verify that some configurations have been recovered, such as the OWA virtual directory URLs. However any other customized configurations that were stored in the system state or the file system are not recovered by this process. Those settings will need to be reapplied from the minimal backups, or reapplied manually or by using a script.

 

 

 

Planning the Hub Transport Server Backup

When you are planning the Hub Transport server backup strategy there are different approaches you can take depending on your requirements.

Backing up Everything

A full system backup of the server, along with a working Active Directory, encompasses all of the required information for a recovery.  However this backup takes the longest and will consume the most backup storage.

If a server failed and needed to be recovered from a full backup any undelivered messages still in the transport queue would be lost.  But it is impractical to backup the entire server multiple times a day just to protect the transport queue databases from data loss.

Depending on the Exchange environment and the backup infrastructure in place a full server recovery may take longer than simply rebuilding the server from scratch.

Backing up the Minimum

To save on backup storage and minimize the backup time frame the minimum data on the Hub Transport server can be backed up.  For most environments this would mean only backing up the transport queue databases and the log files on the file system.

Because these would be relatively fast to back up this type of backup could be performed multiple times per day to minimize the risk of losing undelivered messages.  This concern would mostly apply to high volume email environments where the transport queues are regularly backlogged.  Of course in those cases some attention should be paid to whatever performance bottleneck is causing the backlog, if it is something within the control of that organization to fix.

Backing up Nothing

A perfectly feasible backup strategy for the Hub Transport server is to back up nothing at all.  This would be practical if:

  • there are multiple, redundant Hub Transport servers deployed
  • the transport queues are not frequently backlogged
  • the organization does not wish to retain any log files from the Hub Transport servers

If all those conditions are true then it may not be necessary to back up the Hub Transport servers at all.

Backing Up and Restoring Hub Transport Servers

For the purposes of this demonstration I’ve configured a Hub Transport server with an additional Receive Connector.

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Message tracking logs are also enabled.

alt

Recovering a Hub Transport Server

As mentioned earlier most of the critical Hub Transport server configuration is stored in Active Directory.  When a Hub Transport server has failed you can recover the server using the following process.

  1. Install a new server to host the Hub Transport server role
  2. Configure the server with the same name and IP address as the failed server, and join it to the domain
  3. Install the Exchange Server 2010 pre-requisites
  4. Perform an installation of Exchange Server 2010 using Recovery Mode

To run setup in Recovery Mode use the following command to launch Exchange Server 2010 set from an elevated command prompt.

C:\Admin\Exchange 2010>setup /m:recoverserver

Setup performs a server recovery instead of a normal installation.

Welcome to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unattended Setup

By continuing the installation process, you agree to the license terms of
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. If you don't accept these license terms,
please cancel the installation. To review these license terms, please go to

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=150127&clcid=0x409/

...............
No key presses were detected.  Setup will continue.
Preparing Exchange Setup

    Copying Setup Files              ......................... COMPLETED

The following server roles will be recovered
    Hub Transport Role
    Management Tools

Performing Microsoft Exchange Server Prerequisite Check

    Hub Transport Role Checks        ......................... COMPLETED
 This computer requires the 2007 Office System Converter: Microsoft Filter Pack.
 Please install the software from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=123380.

Configuring Microsoft Exchange Server

    Preparing Setup                  ......................... COMPLETED
    Stopping Services                ......................... COMPLETED
    Copying Exchange Files           ......................... COMPLETED
    Restoring Services               ......................... COMPLETED
    Hub Transport Server Role        ......................... COMPLETED
    Exchange Management Tools        ......................... COMPLETED
    Finalizing Setup.                ......................... COMPLETED

The Microsoft Exchange Server setup operation completed successfully.
Setup has made changes to operating system settings that require a reboot to tak
e effect. Please reboot this server prior to placing it into production.

Restart the server as prompted.  When the server has finished restarting you can verify that configurations such as the additional Receive Connector and the message tracking log configuration have been recovered with the server.

alt

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However the log files themselves are not restored during a Recovery Mode install of Exchange Server 2010.

alt

Neither are additional applications or agents that were previously installed ont he server.  For the Hub Transport server one notable item would the Microsoft Office Filter Pack.

Therefore the server is not fully recovered until all of those items, along with any further customizations to the server, have been manually applied.

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Exchange 2010 allows us a new replication topology when it comes to our mailbox databases, DAG (Database availability groups). You may have noted I didn’t use the general term databases. Public folder databases cannot be used in a DAG. Now to avoid corruption passing to Db copies throughout your organization we now have a capability to use a Lagged copy of the database. which still has all of the transaction logs but just have not applied them.

Walter from this week’s 10135 class was looking for some more information on the entire process of activating a lagged copy and more specifically

“what do I do with the transaction logs if I know where the corruption occurred?”

here ya go buddy – taken from this page – Activate a Lagged Mailbox Database Copy

A lagged mailbox database copy is a mailbox database copy configured with a replay lag time value greater than 0. Activating and recovering a lagged mailbox database copy is a simple process if you want the database to replay all log files and make the database copy current. If you want to replay log files up to a specific point in time, it’s a more difficult operation because you have to manually manipulate log files and run Eseutil.

Dd979786.note(en-us,EXCHG.141).gifNote:

You can’t use the Exchange Management Console (EMC) to activate a lagged mailbox database copy to a specific point in time.

  1. Suspend replication for the lagged copy being activated by using the Suspend-MailboxDatabaseCopy cmdlet, as shown in this example.
  2. Suspend-MailboxDatabaseCopy DB1\EX3 -SuspendComment "Activate lagged copy of DB1 on Server EX3" -Confirm:$false
  3. Optionally (to preserve a lagged copy), take a file system-based (non-Exchange aware) Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshot of the volumes containing the database copy and its log files. You can use the vssadmin.exe tool that’s included in Windows to take a VSS snapshot, as shown in this example.
    vssadmin create shadow /For=C:\mountpoints\db01
    vssadmin create shadow /For=C:\mountpoints\db01_logs

    Dd979786.note(en-us,EXCHG.141).gifNote:

    At this point, you have shadow copies outstanding for the database and log volumes. Continuing to perform this procedure on the existing volume would incur a copy on write performance penalty. If this isn’t desirable, you can copy the database and log files to another volume to perform the recovery.

  4. Determine which log files are required to replay into the database to meet your point-in-time requirement for this recovery (based on log file date and time, as shown in Windows Explorer). All logs created after this point should be moved to a different directory, until the recovery process is completed, and the logs are no longer needed.
  5. Delete the checkpoint (.chk) file for the database.
  6. Use Eseutil to perform the recovery operation, as shown in this example.
    Eseutil.exe /r eXX /a

    Dd979786.note(en-us,EXCHG.141).gifNote:

    In the preceding example, eXX is the log generation prefix for the database (for example, E00, E01, E02, and so on).

    Dd979786.important(en-us,EXCHG.141).gifImportant:

    This step may take a considerable amount of time, depending on several factors, such as the length of the replay lag time, the number of log files generated during that period, and the speed at which your hardware can replay those logs into the database being recovered.

  7. After log replay is finished, the database is in a clean shutdown state and can be copied and used for recovery purposes.
  8. After the recovery process is complete, resume replication for the database that was used as part of the recovery process, as shown in this example.
    Resume-MailboxDatabaseCopy DB1\EX3

That VP has been hounding you for his new laptop. You know he’s moving from Outlook 2003 or 2007. PST files are easy to locate and move. How about “Autocomplete” or “Type ahead” data when entering in the To: and other addressing fields?

This is usually where some support people forget to go the extra mile and make a transition like this a seamless process to the end-user. It’ IS a customer. Just an Internal customer. Why skimp now. Do it right, do it well, look like an IT superstar. When I was in my support days the best compliment a user could give me was…

“Oh, that’s it? I just use it like I did before? That was easier than I thought.”

Everyone’s favorite Exchange MVP Jeff Guillet from sunny California aids us in the step with a “Solarz approved and fully awesome” blog post on Transferring Auto-Completion information to Outlook 2010

Here is just a teaser – hit his blog for all the info!

All versions of Outlook since Outlook 2003 have had a feature called Auto-Complete.  Auto-Completion "remembers" recipient names and email addresses that you have used before and offers to complete the email address as you type characters.  This works within Outlook and OWA 2010.

In Outlook 2003-2007, the Auto-Completion (aka NickName) data is stored in a hidden N2K file.  This file is located in the following path:

Make sure you follow him on twitter for his fun musing and great Exchange info! @Expta


Our friends over at Exchange server pro (http://exchangeserverpro.com/) had an AWESOME write up on using Exchange’s new Database Availibility Groups on top of VMWare virtualization. Worth a read for sure! Heck – just look at this part alond..

Microsoft clearly states that hypervisor HA features should be disabled for DAG members, while VMware considers it to be an effective solution.

Microsoft vs VMware on Exchange Virtualization and HA Best Practices

Also if you’re a twitter head like myself make sure you follow them!

@ExchServPro


One of my students from this week’s 10135 class asked a great question…

Where can I see which services are used for each of the roles?

Great question! I stumbled upon a technet article that maps out just that!

Overview of Services Installed by Exchange Setup

 

Now for clarity sake I’ve taken the content from TechNet’s page above and dropped it into an .XLSX file for your convenience here..

Exchange 2010 Service List