I came into a new environment which runs pretty old systems. Windows Server 2003 with Exchange 2003. They backing up servers with Symantec backup exec 11d. For compliance reason and that I can sleep better I would like to do a test restore of my backup. Is there a best practice guide how to do this in a test environment without affecting the production environment. I was thinking about to run some virtual servers and to a restore. But it seems to be not so easy. Because servers have to be in the domain have to have the same names etc... It would be great if other admin could share there practices how you test your backups...
I do this periodically, pretty much as you describe it too. It's slightly more work, but all you need to do is restore your Active Directory backup onto a virtual machine and then do your Exchange restore.
I have my recent backups on a NAS, so what I do is find out what files contain my backup and copy these to a lightweight Linux virtual server, and then tell Backup Exec to restore from that network location. Since you're in a virtual environment, there's no need to worry about the duplicate computer names - just make sure your VM's are on a dedicated, private network for the test.
This is a great way to test both your AD and Exchange backups and rectify any problems before your restores are needed for real. Unfortunately so many people never actually test their restores until they desperately need them, so good on you for wanting to do this!