Since, last 21 years, Exchange Server is regularly improvising itself in terms of technology and user experience. Exchange Server 2016, the newest addition in the Exchange Server series has surpassed all its competitors and its own older versions, as it is more user friendly, more flexible, compiled with more advanced features and the most secured one with best data retention facilities.
What makes Exchange Server 2016 special vis-à-vis older version – Exchange 2013?
Some significant changes have been made. Apart from the change in software architecture which has reduced the number of server roles to two i.e. Mailbox & Edge Transport server role, document sharing has also got a significant boost. Better data loss prevention, problem isolation, in-place archiving, retention and eDiscovery are the other important feature enhancements that have been integrated to the latest version.
But here we will discuss the other aspect – what to do when things don’t go as per plan? i.e. how to restore and recover mailbox database in Exchange 2016 after a disaster has struck?
Restoring through Windows Server Backup
Exchange 2016 databases can be restored in different ways depending on the kind of situation you are in and the backup methods that you are using. Here, we will see how to restore damaged Exchange 2016 database through Windows Server Backup.
You can use this method to restore Exchange database only if the backup process is running correctly and you have a recent, healthy backup of the database that has gone corrupt. The following are the step-by-step instructions on how to restore Exchange Server backup using Windows Server Backup.
- Getting Started: Launch Windows Server Backup. Open the Actions pane and select Recover option from the menu. This will launch the recovery wizard, and Getting Started page will be opened. In this step you need to select the drive where backup is stored. Where to store the backup is decided at the time of configuring backup setup only, it can either be the Exchange Server itself or any other location in the network
- Select Backup Date: Wizard will show you the oldest and the newest backups available along with the date and time of the latest backup. From the status you will come to know if the backup is mountable or not. Select the backup that you want to restore. Quite naturally it should be the latest backup if you are not doing it for any other specific purpose.
- Select Recovery Type: In this step you need to select the recovery type. There are five options: Files and Folders, Hyper-V, Volumes, Applications and System State. Select Application from the options as we are restoring specifically the Exchange database.
- Select Application: From the ‘Select application to recover’ field, select Exchange. You will note that at the bottom there is a check box: Do not perform a roll-forward recovery of the application databases. As some email communications may have taken place after the backup was created, restoring from this backup means those emails will be missing after recovery. Exchange uses transaction logs to do roll-forward recovery of the database wherein all the changes that have happened after the backup creation are restored too. As we want to restore all the messages (including those which have been created after backup) we will not select the check box.
- Select Recovery Options: You can choose to recover the database at the original location or the new location. Recovering to the original location will serve the purpose, so we will select that option. Confirm the inputs that you have provided till now, and click on the Recover button for the restoration to take place. Just wait till the entire database is recovered, and it will be automatically mounted for you, and you will be ready to go.
What are the other options?
As you must have noticed in this example a full, healthy backup was available to restore Exchange 2016 database. But that may not be the case always. It’s quite possible that backup is not available, or backup is available but is also corrupt and un-mountable, or the transaction logs are not available and so “full recovery” i.e. up to the latest message is not possible, and hence database cannot be recovered through Windows Server Backup.
In these situations such traditional methods of recovery may fail. And I will recommend Kernel for Exchange Server Recovery, which is a sort of specialist in Exchange database recovery, as it can do equally well in any of these circumstances. Even if a backup is not there, or transactions logs are not available, you can still open the corrupt, damaged database file by software and restore the messages granularly or all at the same time in a simple copy-paste way.
Conclusion: Exchange Server recovery is not just about restoring the emails. Time also matters. And when Exchange recovery is done in the shortest possible time, impact on business is minimum. Another important thing to take into account is doing a “clean” recovery i.e. after restoration messages should be available to the users in a way that all normal Exchange functions can be done with them. Taking into consideration these clauses, you will think twice before choosing any other way of recovery, because as far as Kernel for Exchange Server Recovery is concerned, you get full assurance that your data will be safe after recovery.