Ask the Expert

Exchange Server disaster recovery plan considerations

I want to create an Exchange Server disaster recovery plan that involves complete destruction of our data center. In this scenario, I assume I will have only a system state backup of our domain controller and a full backup of our Exchange Server information store.

Once the domain is recreated, I will reset the Exchange Server account in Active Directory (AD), install the operating system (OS) and join the server to the domain using the original Exchange Server name, and then restore the information store.

Does this sound like the correct approach to creating a disaster recovery plan? Is there anything I have overlooked?

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The most important thing is that you test your Exchange Server disaster recovery (DR) plan a few times to confirm that everything works as intended. What you propose sounds fine in principle, but you need to test to ensure you have all the details worked out.

One thing you may want to consider: some third-party utilities on the market circumvent the requirement for an Exchange recovery server. In essence this allows you to stand up any 'cold' or 'warm' site and then import the mailboxes directly from backup media to the production server, without a need for recovery servers and associated recovery steps. I'm assuming you have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) of some sort in place (or at least implied expectations). These will dictate how much you streamline the overall DR process outlined in your plan.

Of course, much more is involved in this process. I've seen consultants spend weeks working with customers to develop an Exchange Server DR plan -- from making sure software media and licenses are in place to documenting your backup rotation and offsite storage -- through documentation of all elements of people, process and technology required for successful execution of the DR plan.

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • Best Practices Checklist: Exchange Server disaster recovery planning
  • 10 tips in 10 minutes: Fundamentals of Exchange Server disaster recovery
  • Tip: Exchange Server backups and disaster recovery
  • Reference Center: Exchange disaster recovery tips and resources
  • This was first published in August 2007

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