Recently I deployed my first Exchange 2007 server on Windows 2008 for one of the companies I work with. During the process of deploying the server we found out that the new Windows Server Backup that is included in Windows Server 2008 does not have the capability to backup the Exchange Information Stores in the same fashion that the old NTBackup from Windows 2003 did.
After doing some research I discovered that Microsoft did this by design, and recommends that those who previously using NTBackup to backup Exchange move to their System Center Data Protection Manager product. While this did not make me happy, it clearly did not make the Exchange Admin community jump for joy. There was a big outcry, complaining at Microsoft for taking such core functionality out of Windows. In June of this year, Microsoft relented and promised to deliver an update to Windows Server Backup to add this functionality back in. It is now November, and it has not happened yet.
In the mad scramble to find an alternative way to make a simple backup of the Exchange Info Stores I stumbled upon a post on the Exchange Team Blog, by a poster named “Phil Carter” that details a method of using the old NTBackup from Windows Server 2003 on Server 2008 without a hitch. This sounded too good to be true, it could not possibly work, why would Microsoft not simply distribute the old backup utility to solve this problem. However, after considering the alternatives of buying and expensive 3rd party backup utility, or deploying DPM (and the required, dedicated Windows server to go with it) I decided to give it a go.
Here is what I did:
1) Load up a Windows 2003 x64 system. The x64 part is important, as you should be running Exchange on a x64 platform (unless you are using an Itanium), and you must use matching binaries for this. I used a Virtual Machine for this.
2) Copy the ntbackup.exe, ntmsapi.dll, and vssapi.dll from C:windowssystem32 into a new folder.
3) Burn the new folder you created containing the copied files to a CD, or copy it to USB drive. You can also copy it over the network to your Windows 2008/Exchange 2007 Server to skip the next step.
4) Copy the folder from the CD or USB drive to your Windows 2008/Exchange2007 server.
5) Launch Ntbackup.exe. Select the Information Stores as you would normally under NTBackup and start your backup.
UPDATE: After a recent Windows or Exchange update it seems that you now have to run NTBackup.exe as an Administrator to be able to see the Exchange Information Store. To do this Right-click on NTBackup.exe, choose Properties, Click on the Compatibility tab, and check the box that says “Run this program as an administrator”. Alternatively to run the application as an administrator only once, Right-click on NTBackup.exe and choose “Run As Administrator”, if you have UAC enabled you will be prompted to confirm the action.
After it completes you should have a quick and easy Exchange 2007 Backup on Windows 2008. This method even purges your transaction logs properly. I have even verified this method works properly, by attempting to restore from the backup. It works without a hitch.
This method is great for small shops that happen to be running Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008, and do not have the need or resources for yet another Windows server just to run backups as DPM requires. For larger shops, I actually do recommend DPM over other 3rd party tools, as its method of doing replication works really well.