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Is Exchange Email Backup Enough?

There is so much business critical information in email systems today, the thought of losing a server can keep an email admin up at night, or at least give her/ him nightmares about crashed disks and backups that fail to restore. When you consider how often you hear about a backup tape gone missing, a restore that failed, or a restore that succeeded but the required data was not in that set, you have to consider whether or not Exchange email backup is enough of a contingency plan for your critical data.

Exchange has some great mechanisms for protecting live data and keeping it available. Database Availability Groups (DAGs) are a fantastic solution that keeps a mailbox database on more than one server. DAGs can even span the WAN, so that if you have a site go down, users can still connect to their mailboxes on a different mailbox server in another location. But DAGs’ biggest strength, the replication of data from one database to another, is also their biggest weakness. If a user deletes a message, that deletion is replicated to the other members of the DAG. If a user purges their deleted items, that purge is replicated too. And if a deleted message ages past the Single Item Recovery period, your only choice may be to go to tape and restore a mailbox. Of course, we know it costs money to bring tapes back from offsite storage, we’ve seen backups fail to restore, and we’ve gone through the heartburn of restoring a mailbox database to an alternate location only to discover that the desired message was not in the mailbox at the time the backup was made. Is Exchange email backup enough? Far too often that answer is no.

A critical service-add you should consider today is email archiving. Email archiving provides your users with an archive mailbox that can store as much or more mail than their primary mailbox. Built on separate servers and using different storage, an email archive solution can store all that old email that is typically what gets deleted when a user starts to run into their mailbox quota limits, and is also what you are usually asked to restore from tape when they realize (two months later) that they needed that particular message or folder. Since email archiving can make a copy of all emails sent or received by your users, it’s a second copy of all messages store separately from your Exchange system. All those messages are there and available to your users, so you don’t have to worry about requests to restore a mailbox from June 2009 because something in there is absolutely essential.

Is Exchange email backup enough? No, but adding an email archiving solution will make up the difference, and the two together ensure that your company protects its mission critical data and that it is always available to users.

This guest post was provided by Casper Manes on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Read more on how to improve your Exchange email backup.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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