There has surely been enough discussion on this blog (and other community sites) how Windows Server Backup on Windows Server 2008 does not provide any out-of-the-box functionality to backup Exchange 2007. Some examples on our blog are here and here, but there were a ton of related comments on other relatively unrelated blog posts as well. There was no lack of opinions on the subject!

As we mentioned in our announcement of Exchange 2007 Service Pack 2— we are going to ship the backup plug-in with Exchange 2007 SP2. We wanted to share some additional details around what we are shipping:

  • The backup integration will enable Windows Server Backup to backup Exchange data. Note that there is no specific "Exchange only" granularity when you are backing things up. In other words, the backup is volume-based. If Exchange data is on C: drive, backing up the C: drive will also give you an Exchange-aware backup of Storage Groups located on that drive (and purge the transaction logs from all backed up Storage Groups if backup completed successfully). As such, there is not much visual indication that Exchange is being backed up, except for the following:
     

     
  • Only VSS backups are supported. There is no support for streaming backups
  • You can backup either to a local hard drive or a network share
  • There is no remote server backup functionality
  • The plug-in supports only full backups of the active copy (if you are using continuous replication).
  • When restoring, you do not have to restore the whole backed up volume, but can choose to restore only Exchange application data :
     


     
    Followed by:
     

      
  • Recovery can be done either in-place or out of place. In-place recovery will restore all of the backed up storage groups to their original location, and perform a recovery automatically (by default). This implies that there is no explicit support for Recovery Storage Groups (RSG). In order to use a RSG, you should restore "out of place", which will restore the data to an alternate location. Then specific files required can be placed into a RSG (which can be created by following this procedure).
  • You will be able to open different "backup sets", even if they were created on servers different than the one where you are restoring.

Detailed documentation will be available when SP2 ships. Although this backup solution does not provide all of the functionality that's available when Exchange 2007 is installed on Windows Server 2003— it does cover the main scenarios that a smaller organization would require (and even larger organizations could use in a pinch), and of course, will be provided at no additional cost.

Thank you for all the relentless feedback that you gave us on the subject. It is safe to say that your feedback was directly related to us doing this work!

- Nino Bilic