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How to archive selected groups of mailboxes or a better idea needed !

Created: 23 Aug 2013 | 5 comments

Ladies and Gents, Folk of huge intellect,

a few months ago, we were at last allowed to upgrade our old, tired and struggling EV 7.5 environment to a shiny newish Win 2008 box with lots more storage, lots more RAM and loadsd of processors - Hooray !
Our EV 10.0.3 single server is attached to two exchange 2007 CCR server environments and has about 4500 mailboxes of various types, user, and shared and various sizes. Some grow slowly, some receive vast amounts of mail and attachments.

We use a shared TSM backup environment and the likeliehood of getting a separate TSM backup server is at best, extremely remote. We've fiddled with and tweaked where we can, with the knowledge we have, but cannot add any more hours into a day.
Our archive window runs from 04:00AM to midday. Our tsm backup window is scheduled from 14:00 until it finishes.
Each day, the backup gets greater and greater and takes longer and longer. I've manually rolled over to a new partition when the previous one got to about 750Gb. I intend to roll future partitions over at around 500Gb. (On the old and less powerful 7.5 server I was rolling over to a new paritiion every two weeks or 200Gb, which ever was reached first.)

Our backup is a prooblem. It is not fast and with more data to secure each day, it just gets longer and longer, inevitably overlapping the archive window. This seems to limit how many mailboxes we can archive, to at times only a few hundred.

We have no budget left and I cannot convince those on high to make an exception - ideally a second EV server would be good, but I know I can't have one.
SO... I want to archive a different set of mailboxes each night, as I suspect that at present we are archiving the same ones first and as a result many never get touched.

If you can advise a workable, if manual approach to this or if you have a vastly superior and cost-free idea, I'm all ears !!

Hope you all enjoy the long weekend, if you get one !!

Operating Systems:

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GabeV's picture

You can create separate Provisioning Groups but the archiving tasks schedule can be configured to run daily. You can't run one archiving task every other day or archive a specific mailboxes today and not the rest, since the archiving task targets an entire Exchange Server.

I'd try to reconfigure the backups. For instance, if the partition is closed, you need one full backup and then you can exclude the partition from the backup job. Once the partition is closed, EV doesn't write more data to the partition.

However, if you are running collections, you need to make sure all the files were collected before you exclude the partition from the backup job. Another approach could be using incremental backups. In closed partitions, the backup app should perform an incremental backup really fast.

I hope this helps.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”–Winston Churchill

Ben Watts's picture

To be honest, when the Archiving Task runs it fills the A5 queue with all the Mailboxes and then works its way through them one at a time, if the schedule runs out before we get through all mailboxes then we SHOULD be picking up the remaining mailboxes from the A5 queue the following night.

e.g. at the beginning of the task we place all 4500 mailboxes in the A5 queue to process, at the end of the schedule we have only processed 2000 mailboxes, this SHOULD leave 2500 mailboxes/messages in the A5 queue to start processing the following night.

You shouldnt really be in a situation where we are only archiving the same x number of mailboxes.

Have a look at the following technote, it explains it a bit better than me  -  http://www.symantec.com/docs/TECH51098

You could also change the items per pass so that we hit more mailboxes but archive less on each hit, that way the mailboxes with less items get completely archived off and the larger mailboxes will have as much archived as possible as we will hit them more often, possibly drop the items per pass to 200.

Also Gabe is correct, closed partitions do not need as many backups as we dont write more data to them, but if you allow deletions then we WILL remove items from them therefore they do change. With that in mind you would be well advised to back them up at least once a month, preferably once a week (on the weekends??) as if you get into a situation where you need to restore from backup in a DR scenario then you dont want a HUGE difference in items stored in the Partitions to the items referenced in the DBs.

Collections also obviously work well as it speeds up backups as Gabe also mentioned above.

Other thing you could do is move the Backup of EV to the beginning of the TSM backup window so that it is done with EV as soon as possible and then you can start the Archiving Window much earlier in the morning. IF possible.

Rob.Wilcox's picture

You may want to consider backing up 'every few days', and as others said here, split things down into smaller partitions if you can.

JesusWept3's picture

If you use collections and perform expiry, allow users to delete and also delete archives then Your back up really shouldn't be lessened because of the sparse collections process will move data around

JesusWept3's picture

Also if you use something like netbackup you should probably look at flash backup and forget collections altogether, it's a lot faster and collections are inconsistent and slow down other processes