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I have two Exchange 2010 servers running a DAG. One server is onsite, the other is at a co-lo. I'm running Backup Exec 2012 to backup the DAG. My question is:

Do i need to configure jobs to backup the information store on one of the individual stores also? or is backing up the DAG with Backup Exec enough for disaster recovery?

Do DAG backups allow for Granular Recovery of individual mailboxes and messages? or is it a database level backup?

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Not sure if this will help...but look here: autodiscover.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/… –  TheCleaner Aug 13 '12 at 16:21

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted
+50

Have a 2-server DAG is not considered a "backup", but rather just high availability. You still want backups with Backup Exec or similar product.

Having Backup Exec backup all your mailbox databases is most of what you want for restoring disaster recovery. Most people assume DR means you have NO servers, so you'll need a restore of your Active Directory (where most of your Exchange config lives) and optionally the Exchange server system drives. DR is way more complex then people think it will be, so I recommend trying to restore in a lab of virtual machines (on a separate VLAN or similar) the whole shebang including AD, Exchange, etc. You'll learn tons and also learn if you have all you need.

With Backup Exec, you can do granular restores of mail items if you just backup the mailbox databases in the DAG.

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+1 - especially the part of DAG is not backup. That's like people saying having a RAID1 Mirror is their backup "solution". –  Rex Aug 22 '12 at 3:01
    
Thanks for the answer. I guess i was not clear enough with my question. What i meant was: is backing up the DAG with BE enough or should i also back up the individual mail stores? not that I considered DAG in itself a backup. –  Zero Subnet Aug 22 '12 at 15:37
    
Is your BE using the Exchange agent to backup the Information Store(s)? If so, then yes that's a backup of all mailboxes. I would do a backup of the Information Stores and then just walk though restoring a single inbox item to see what that's like with BE. @TheCleaner's link under question shows lots of screen shots (in part 2) of that experience. –  Bret Fisher Aug 22 '12 at 20:32

From backup software perspective, there are 3 options to backup the Exchange databases, regardless if it's a DAG or not.

  1. Unmount database, validate it's in "Clean shutdown" mode - perform backup as any usual file. This approach DOESN'T removes the logs.
  2. Online backup, performs the backup while database is running (you do want to use this approach of cause) and flushes the logs, when restoring you can only restore the entire DB. Usually, configured in a way to remove the logs.
  3. Item-Level backup, performs the same as number 2 but backups every single item in every single mailbox. Very long, but you always able to restore single item, if you have adequate retention cycle. Also removes the logs, usually.

You would need to consult the BackupExec sales person to validate which exact license you need. To note, the latest version of the BackupExec has introduced some changes to the addition modules (agents) that are used to performs various DB backups. Make sure you understand not only licensing requirements, but the capacity available to your backup system.

Hope it helps.

As explained in the previous comment, DAG in NO way a backup but high availability.

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