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Backup Exec 2010 R2 - Backing up Exchange VM

Created: 10 May 2013 • Updated: 11 May 2013 | 3 comments
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Here's my setup:

  • Backup Exec 2010 R2 installed on a Windows 2003 Server
  • Exchange 2007 SP3 installed as Hyper-V virtual machine running Windows 2008 Server
  • The Hyper-V host for the Exchange virtual machine is running Windows 2008 Server R2.

There are at least four ways (or types) to backup Exchange VM: 

  1. Flat file backup of Exchange VM selecting all Windows directories in all volumes in the VM.
    Useful for individual file or folder recovery and includes OS. 
    Exchange database files are flat file backed up but the process doesn’t flush Exchange logs.
  2. Microsoft Information Store backup selection
    This allows for granular recovery of individual mailboxes or mail items. 
    Doesn’t include OS.  Fairly sure this flushes Exchange logs on completion.
  3. Hyper-V backup. 
    Essentially a snapshot of the entire Exchange VM while it’s Hyper-V host is being backed up. 
    This probably doesn’t flush Exchange logs.  I can restore the entire VM but can’t restore individual files within that VM.
  4. Flat file backup of Exchange's vhd file on the Hyper-V host selecting all Windows directories in all volumes on the host. 

Through the course of a week, I essentially perform all four of the above types of backup so there is a lot of duplication which leads to long backup/verify windows. 


  1. Is one type of backup better than another?
  2. Assuming that while each Hyper-V host is being backed up, is there any point to performing a flat file backup of the VM files on the Hyper-V host (type  4 above)?


Operating Systems:

Comments 3 CommentsJump to latest comment

lmosla's picture

Hello svc007,

Take a look at this link for some best practices on backing up Hyper V.

also to get the best funcionality backing up your enviroment I encourage you to upgrade to Backup Exec 2010 R3 sp2. 

pkh's picture

Some comment on your backup methods, according to your numbers

1) AFE will exclude any Exchange files, like .ebd, from any file backups.

3) If you have installed the remote agent in the VM and have enabled GRT, you should be able to restore individual mailboxes, etc.

4) If you just backup the .vhd, then you might find that when you restore VM, it is not working.  This is because unlike (3) which is a snapshot, the VM is not properly snapshot.

The easiest way to backup your Exchange server is to do a Hyper-V backup of the VM (3).

svc007's picture

Based on the responses, I am going to stop backing up the .vhd file of the Exchange server but will continue using the Microsoft Information Store as well as Hyper-V specific backups.

Thanks everyone.