When overseeing an Exchange Server we all know that businesses can live and die by their timely and reliable correspondence – losing important client information, losing calendar events, missing an attachment from an email from months ago that is suddenly needed – there's never a way to really predict in a month or two what will be needed or might go missing. It's questionable if even a well liked IT tech could survive a full loss of all these important things because they didn't have reliable backups!
More on the side of technical mishaps databases can become corrupted, the Exchange server can go down totally and require a complete install, or significant updates that break some of your functionality, forcing you to start all over.. unless you've got your backups at hand! Keeping consistent backups helps out your Exchange users, but it also keeps your Exchange Server healthy by being sure that you've got a hold of logs, server states, and plenty more with regards to the server itself, and all of it makes sure you've got yourself covered no matter what goes down with your environment!
Whatever the case, having extensive backups of your Exchange can be especially valuable. We all know that almost any email environment is going to have a mixed bag of users, too. Much like anecdotes of people ‘storing' files in their recycle bin on their desktop, some folks just don't quite fully grasp the nuances of Exchange functionality, meaning that when the big wig upstairs comes stomping into your office wondering where her email went you've got yourself covered!
There's also the fact that some businesses require extensive backup for legal or compliance reasons, which is all the more cause to be well informed on your choices in this realm and be sure you've got a solid solution. It's easy enough to use Windows' built in EDB backup capability, but you unquestionably lose a lot of time with this method having to restore more than you need, or being forced to mount the EDB to a secondary Exchange server to peruse and find what you need by hand.
You need the ability to backup, and restore, with a great deal of flexibility and granularity – sometimes you only need to restore or backup a small period, or only one users mailbox was compromised/deleted and needs to be replaced, or you want to restore a single email from a mailbox. Here's some especially useful tools that can dramatically speed up recovery time and assist in making, searching, and managing backups for your Exchange Server!
List of the Top Microsoft Exchange Backup Solutions
We've broken down some of the Best exchange server Backup software solutions on the market with Compatibility (or in other words, do they work on Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010 or 2013), Price, and feature sets.
Acronis Backup and Recovery for Exchange Server
Acronis is a robust program that has a wide range of functionality for Exchange server backup and management. It allows backup and restore from a large scale to small – both individual mailboxes and entire server environments. Further, the backups can be made and restored from almost any platform due to the image-based design of Acronis' technology. Acronis also has full support and documentation/support for offline and even VSS backups, and since the backups are image based it is easy to save them locally, via the cloud, remotely, or otherwise, with some ability to do so automatically built into the software itself.
Compatibility: Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016
Price: 1 year sub at $100/month, 3 years for $2,445/server
ShadowProtect is a powerful backup tool which has a broad ability to search, manipulate, and of course backup and restore, EDB files. It can recover anything from individual or bulk mailboxes, to individual messages, to attachments, calendar items, notes, tasks, and more – and even can do so offline! The base software is somewhat limited in regards to its granularity but, fortunately, they do offer a separate installation for ShadowProtect GRE – Granular Recovery for Exchange.
This part of ShadowProtect is not installed on the Exchange Server itself, however, and must be installed on a client system running Outlook, from where it will access and handle EDB files. This can be both a pro and a con, but ultimately it means the software gains some flexibility in some situations but can also lose out in others, it totally depends on your environment and circumstance. None the less, the GRE offering gives you a great deal more power and control with manipulating, searching, and managing your databases for recovery situations.
Compatibility: Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016
Price: $499 + additional cost for maintenance and support on a per year basis
Backup Exec is more of a generalized all-around backup solution and can be a little cumbersome for Exchange-specific needs; none the less, all it requires is to install an agent for interfacing with Exchange in order to get it communicating and working with the Exchange server for your backup needs! In brief, it can handle backups for virtual and non virtual environments, application databases, as well as Microsoft and Linux based machines, and easily handles backing up onto a variety of media.
But, more to the point of its Exchange capabilities, it can backup utilizing VSS and has some powerful consistency and redundancy checks built into its features. Since it is geared more to an overall backup solution some of the granularity is missing versus programs more specifically geared, but it can still restore and backup individual mailboxes, manage backups via local or cloud storage, and perform both incremental and full backups and restorations.
Compatibility: Exchange 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016
Price: Must contact for pricing, Exchange agent has separate license costs as well per server
Download: Exchange agent is allowed on evaluation version but must be installed separately, https://www.veritas.com/trial/en/us/backup-exec-15.html
Veeam Backup & Replication
Veeam has some excellent built-in tools for backing up and restoring parts of your virtualized environments. When running Exchange servers with a virtual environment you have a lot more flexibility than dealing with a physical server – but by the same merit, being virtualized means that it can be startlingly easy to lose everything if you aren't careful and absent-mindedly re-image or simply click the wrong VM state. Thankfully, virtualization management software like Veeam often has a lot of backup abilities included. In regards to Exchange, Veeam supports most any version supported by the VM running the Exchange server, and furthermore Veeam also offers another tool, Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange, which gives you a much more granular and powerful ability to manipulate and manage Exchange backups! It allows saving of backups both locally, via cloud, ftp, etc., and boasts a wide range of other backup and restore ability beyond just Exchange.
Compatibility: Basic backups compatible with most Exchange versions, Exchange Explorer compatible with Exchange 2010 SP1, 2013, and 2016
Price: $780 for Standard license, includes 1yr maintenance and support
Granular Recovery for Exchange by Axcient
Axcient is a cloud-based backup platform with a single web-based interface for all of your backup needs. Axcient boasts a great deal of features for general back-up and a robust cloud-based secure environment for them – for the Exchange specific capabilities, though, it does offer VSS backups, granular backup and recovery, fully searchable databases, and can also offer exports of local files for non-cloud backups, though that is not its focus.
Compatibility: Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013
Price: Must Contact for price, Exchange backup requires at least Business license
Download: Demo available on website, No trial – https://axcient.com/technology/granular-recovery-for-exchange/
NovaBACKUP is a business level backup solution with a reasonable price tag and includes backup and restore capabilities for both Exchange and SQL servers. On the Exchange side of things it supports full VSS based backup, and also have plugins that can provide a wide range of functionality. Much of this is basic or included functionality in other software and doesn't require the added configuration of plugins, but NovaBACKUP can go a bit further due to that modularity! It has a full capability for doing incremental or full backups as well as offline backups to physical media, cloud, or both.
Compatibility: Exchange 2003 SP2, 2007 SP 3, 2010 SP1
Price: $299.95 per year
CA ArcServe Backup
CA ArcServe Backup is a powerful and wide-ranged backup and restore software for enterprise environments. For Exchange specific needs it does require an agent installation and a separate agent license, but it promises some powerful tools, especially if you consider it's non-Exchange offerings. It boasts the usual range of capabilities – VSS based backups, granularity for backing up and restoring small or large database portions, as well as full compatibility with cloud and non-cloud based backup media.
Compatibility: Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010
Price: Must contact for pricing information
OnTrack PowerControls' claim to fame is a forensically sound solution for backup, search, and restore of Exchange databases, providing both full and partial database restores from any Outlook environment. It's focus is primarily upon a more rigorously compliant environment, such as legal or security based needs, and to that very end it leans heavily to security and simplicity. The interface is drag-and-drop friendly, and easily lets you search, backup, or restore individual backups, mailboxes, messages, attachments, or entire databases with ease! It also offers a slew of additional agents that can be added in for additional functionality such as PST searching, content analysis, advanced searching, and more powerful administrative abilities. Most of all it boasts support for Exchange as far back as 5.5!
Compatibility: Exchange 5.5, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013
Price: $599 for 30 day license for 100 mailboxes, 100 mailbox perpetual license for $970 + $194 for yearly maintenance and support, ongoing.
BackupAssist is another program geared more towards a general back up and restoration ability – without the granular add-on it covers basic database creation and management, both EDB and PST, for mailboxes. With the add-in, however, BackupAssist opens up the entire breadth of granular backup and restoration capability that you would expect – VSS based backups, cloud and local storage automatically, as well as some ability to search individual mailboxes and databases. It's ability to restore partial databases is somewhat hit or miss, but functionally it does the job well enough for a price far below other Enterprise level options.
Compatibility: Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010
Price: $279 for base license plus various options, Granular Exchange add-on is $199, also offers multi-site remote management licensing options on a yearly basis starting at $289 per year
Whichever software solution you choose you've got to be sure it's robust and reliable. At the end of each day a powerful backup solution will assure that you've got yourself, and everyone else, covered! Losing days, weeks, months, or even years of correspondence can be crippling, especially with offices that have a lot of online contacts or employees or clients in the field. There's just no way to truly recover from a huge loss of information than by being able to bring it back in near perfect mirror to what it was before!
It's easy sometimes to get lax on backups, but without fail the one thing you forget, no matter how obscure, will be the one thing someone will come storming into your office about! Whether your backup and restoration needs ever pay off is a simple matter of inevitability – they always will, and when they do you have to be sure you've got the most robust and flexible database and restoration abilities you can find for your environment.