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Is there a 'best practice' for ensuring user's PST files are backed up? Does anyone have any recommendations for this? Putting netbackup on everyone's Desktop I don't think is an option, what about have windows backup send bkf files to their network share that is backed up?

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You mention netbackup, which is an enterprise tool... are the users using Exchange? – shufler Aug 7 '09 at 20:12
up vote 3 down vote accepted

We have everyone store their .pst files on a network drive. The drive is mapped automatically with a logon script. We run an incremental backup on the drive each night and a full each month. It is an easy solution because it does not require any extra software to be installed on the users's computer. The nice part is you only have to worry about backing up one server rather than every users computer.

We've never run into any problems with this setup. I can't say the same for people that stored their .pst files on their hard drive!

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But be aware that MS say using a PST over the network is unsupported. (That said, I've never had a problem.) – Richard Aug 7 '09 at 14:20
Well, these two links from MS say thats a bad idea as some people pointed out in another question I asked:… – Kyle Brandt Aug 7 '09 at 14:21
This always makes me chuckle. The IS department defines Exchange mailbox size limits to prevent runaway disk requirements on the Exchange server, and to help reduce the backup time required. They then get the Deskside Support team to show users how to archive their emails into a PST. Then they get them to put the PST on a fileserver, taking up all the same server disk space and increasing the backup time (again). Insane. – Izzy Aug 7 '09 at 14:47
We had issues with PST files on the network drives. Email would just disappear as it was being moved into the PST. Since then we switched to local PST files and sync them to a server using DeltaCopy. – Matt Everson Aug 7 '09 at 16:33
@Izzy: I chuckle because that strategy completely blows differential backups of the data out of the water. If the user opens Outlook the mtime on the PST file gets updated and, thus, it ends up on the next differential backup, too. Had the mail just been left in the Exchange store (or a proper archive tool used) then that wouldn't happen. – Evan Anderson Aug 7 '09 at 20:33

In the past, I've used the Personal Folders Backup addin, but it only backs up when you close Outlook because the database needs to be closed.

IMHO, the only fool-proof method is to run Exchange Server and back that up instead.

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Used this addin in the past, too, with mixed success. Since it only works after outlook closes, users who leave outlook open, and then log-off won't get backed up. Users can also cancel the file copy dialog. If you use this, you'll need to re-educate your users to close outlook before logout, and to lock their computer instead of logging out if the backup starts. – brad.lane Aug 14 '09 at 15:00

Windows backup and a script ought to work.

Frankly though, any question about a business network and pst files should be answered with "don't use PST files, end of discussion". I know you won't like that, but it's a fundementally flawed method of storing data your business needs.

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After several issues we decided to move PST files to the desktop as Microsoft recommends.

Now we are testing PST backup solutions for our enterprise... One solution that stands out is EdgeSafe which allows the backup to run automatically while Outlook is open. It keeps a synchronized backup image of the PST and seems to do that incrementally so backup storage is not inflating. Restore seems pretty straightforward as the backup PST does not need to be reassembled as it is already fully synchronized.

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Will think about it, I tried ntbackup but it didn't work because the files were open. Going to see if the shadow service was running, if it wasn't, maybe enabling it will work. – Kyle Brandt Aug 14 '09 at 16:21

It seems everyone runs into the same problems, everything I've had to deal with has been mentioned above...

What I wish would work is the idea of extracting old messages to folders and files (using a tool, not manually) so that they can be backed up as individual files instead of one giant PST. The problem is that none of the s/w I've tried is simple enough for the average person to use.

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protected by Jeff Atwood Feb 17 '11 at 19:53

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