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I'm sure this question's been asked a dozen times in one form or another, however after much searching, there doesn't appear to be an obvious simple recovery solution for a single Exchange box.

We're using Exchange 2010 on a single server, the server hosts the AD and nothing else on the network uses the AD. The intent is to run this server as you would an externally hosted Exchange server - access only via HTTP (RPC mode or OWA) - all other ports blocked.

I've a daily backup running, using Windows Server 2008 volume shadow service to backup the Exchange data to an external hard disk.

My question is, how do I perform a bare metal recovery of this server?

1) Do I need to be explicitly including the active directory information in this nightly backup, or will it be there by virtue of the fact that this system is the primary AD server and the Windows backup service knows this?

2) I understand I can re-install Server 2008 onto my new hardware (in the case of hardware failure) and then run Exchange 2010 setup.exe with a /recover argument, referencing the backup volume.

3) It is acceptable to have some downtime during this recovery process. But is there anything else I should be aware of?

Thanks!

Duncan

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1 Answer

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I know this is a bit old by now, but it's a good question to provide at least some kind of answer. To start, make sure you're aware that Exchange 2010 on a domain controller isn't supported by Microsoft. This can cause all kinds of inconsistencies with how things should run, so you should carefully test everything before relying on it.

That being said, the bare metal recovery can be done using the "/recover" option, but this would only work if the domain was up and running as the installing in recovery mode pulls information from AD. So, for your first question, yes, you should include the AD information because it would not otherwise be backed up. You can mostly just get this backing up the system state of the server, but here is a good page for information on this. Assuming you have this working correctly, your second statement should be correct after you have the restored domain up and running. However, this is definitely something that needs to be tested a few times before it can be properly trusted. This is especially true since it is an unsupported configuration.

While testing this you can check out how much downtime you'll have, but be prepared for a good amount of it. You'll have to install the OS, get the domain up and running, and then run through the Exchange install. Fortunately Exchange 2010 makes that last part pretty easy, but you'll then need to restore all of the data as well. The main thing that you should be aware of, which is unfortunately difficult to prepare for, is that there could be lots of strange issues that arise when you are restoring everything. Especially since it isn't supported, there is a very good chance you'll hit errors along the way. So, it can't be stressed enough that you should rigorously test the restore before you rely on it.

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Smashing response, I've some reading to do, cheers! –  bduncanj Jun 5 '10 at 20:08
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