Restoring items from Exchange Snapshots

Restoring items from Exchange snapshots

In order to maximize Exchange 2003 capabilities and performance and to minimize the restore time of a single mailbox or a single item, more and more companies are relocating their Exchange Databases in Storage appliances like Netapp or EMC, using iSCSI (read Exchange on NAS – Proved and Approved  for more info).
One of the benefits of relocating the Exchange’s Database in storage is the ability to take a snapshot (quick backup) of the Exchange Database without interfering with the user’s work.
We can configure the storage to take a snapshot every 4 hours – 6 times a day. That means that we can restore each item or mailbox for the last day in 4 hour periods and not 24 hour back-ups like any regular backup.
Also, we can keep snapshots on daily and weekly basis (if we allocate the needed space).
In this article I will explain how to restore items from a backup snapshot that was created approximately 1 month ago, using Netapp Single Mailbox Recovery 4.0 – SMBR (powered by Ontrack).
Requirements and naming conventions
For the purpose of this article I’ve used to following server names:

  1. ISREXCH01 – Exchange 2003 standard edition with Service pack 2.
  2. ACCORD-FS – Netapp 3020 storage server.

”accord-fs’exch_db$ – location of the Exchange Database snapshots.
– ”accord-fs’exch_logs$ – location of the Exchange Logs snapshots.

  1. PRS-SERVER – Server that used to restore the item form snapshot using SMBR 4.0.
  2. Tkolber – destination mailbox on ISREXCH01 to restore the selected items from the snapshot.

In order to restore item from snapshot, the following software is required:

  • Windows 2000 SP4 / 2003 server.
  • Outlook 2000 client or later.
  • Minimum of 256MB RAM.
  • Monitor with 800 x 600 or higher screen resolution.
  • Netapp Single Mailbox Recovery 4.0 (SMBR) – The host that is installed and configured with the SMBR 4.0 is PRS-Server.

Restoring an item from the snapshot
In order to restore an item from a snapshot, perform the following:

  1. Login to PRS-Server.
  2. Open computer management: Storage – SnapDrive – Disks right click and select: Connect Disk.

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  1. Click Next and fill in the UNC path from the relevant DB snapshot

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  1. In the Ensure Virtual Disk Type box, ensure that Dedicated is selected and click Next.

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  1. The Virtual Disk snapshot information screen is displayed. Click Next.

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  1. Select the drive letter for mapping the snapshot (T: in this example) and click Next.

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  1. Select the Available Initiator (should be only one), click on the upper arrow, so the displayed Initiator will move to the right pane and click Next.

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  1. In the Completing the Connect Disk Wizard screen, check that all the parameters are correct and then click Finish.
  2. After about 20 seconds, the following message will appear if everything is OK.

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  1. The drive that you mapped (T:) is displayed under Disks as in the following illustration.

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  1. Repeat steps 2 to 10 but with the snapshot of the Log files and a different drive letter instead of the DB snapshot and the drive selected for the database (T). (”accord-fs’exch_db$’~snapshot’eloginfo__isrexch01_Date_hour’exch_db_sgXX.lun).

Note: Please notice that both snapshots should be from the same date and hour!

  1. After you connect the Logs and the DB snapshots, you should see both drives (Logs & DB, in this case drives T: for DB and drive K: for Logs).

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After connecting to the Logs and DB snapshots, we will use the Ontrack software to select the items that were deleted and restore them to mailbox or to PST file. In this example we restore the items to a user mailbox (Tkolber).

  1. From the programs menu, select NetApp – Single Mailbox Recovery – Single Mailbox Recovery. The following wizard will open:

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  1. Click Next, enter the path to the PrivXX.edb file from the snapshot, like the following example.

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  1. If you would like to move the items to a user mailbox follow the next example (if you would like to restore the items to PST, selects “PST Files” and chooses the PST location).

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  1. Select Next. If you choose to restore the items to a PST file you will asked to which version of Outlook PST you would like to restore the items (Outlook 2003 or Outlook 97-2002). Select the first option and click OK.

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Note: If you have selected a mailbox as the target – skip this step.

  1. Click Finish to prepare to restore the items that you want:

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  1. Select the items that you want and drag them into the PST (or the mailbox):

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  1. After restoring the items the following windows are displayed (in case of errors, they will appear as well):

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Note: If you would like to switch between the resources types (PST instead of mailbox), select Target PST from the File menu:
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  1. After finishing the restore, select Disconnect Disk to disconnect the drives you mapped (T: & K:) from computer management (see step 2).

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  1. Before disconnecting, the system will ask if you are sure you want to disconnect the drive. Select Yes.

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  1. Logoff the server.