First, you will want to have a good look at Exchange Server clustering technologies (and you'll want to consider moving to Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003 at the same time), which essentially provide the ability to fail over from one set of back-end databases on one "node" of the cluster to another set of identical back-end databases on a "cold standby" node of the same cluster. For information on clustering various versions of Exchange Server, see the following links:
If your budget is sufficient and you require greater availability, you could investigate some of the third-party high-availability solutions that exist, including geoclusters (clusters in which the nodes are in different geographic locations), faster backup and recovery solutions (i.e., Windows Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) or similar products.
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This was first published in February 2005