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Windows Server Backup and Exchange 2007 with iSCSI

Since service pack 2 has recently been released for Exchange 2007 this has enabled the long awaited integration of Exchange aware backups with Server 2008’s new Windows Server Backup. WSB is Microsoft’s replacement of the old ntbackup that we all know and love. This new backup is simpler to use than ntbackup and has a number of interesting new features, but it also lacks some of the more useful features of ntbackup as well. One of these missing features that is rather vexatious is that you have to backup whole volumes. You can’t just backup the mailbox stores, or even specific files and folders as well. Another missing feature is that you can’t just back up to a specific folder nor mapped drive. This can cause problems, especially at small businesses that don’t feel like shelling out for a more robust backup program. You will have to dedicate a whole volume to WSB, so this requires a bit more planning ahead. This is a problem that we had to get creative about solving last night on the spot though.

The client has an Exchange 2007 server running on Server 2008. No backup software had been acquired as they had been waiting for SP2 to enable Exchange aware backups. SP2 installed just fine, which was great considering all the other migration issues we had earlier, but then the hang-up we ran into was discovering that WSB wants its own volume for backing up, and doesn’t want to backup to a mapped drive on one of the other servers. This was a source of consternation for a bit as we did not have a spare volume available nor could we just grab an external drive for this either. Fortunately StarWind Software has this great, and free, iSCSI target software. Using StarWind we were able to turn a chunk of storage on the server into a virtual drive and set it up as an iSCSI target. All of this without having to reboot too, which is a huge plus. We connected this to the Exchange server using iSCSI and that meant we were finally able to backup the server and flush those transaction logs that had been building up. This made for a pretty quick and easy fix as StarWind is simple enough to set up.  If you are in need of a quick fix for your backups this is one way to do it.

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