Being able to recover an Exchange Server is key to business continuity. This is magnified in environments where there is only a single Exchange server. Rebuilding an Exchange environment from scratch would be an arduous and monumental task. Luckily Exchange saves much of its configuration settings in Active Directory. As long as Active Directory is healthy you can recover an Exchange Server to its former configuration. This process saves a massive amount of time.
That said there are some items that are not stored in Active Directory. This includes the databases where user and public folder data is stored, third-party certificates and, customizations made outside of the Exchange management tools.
Certificates are easy. If you don’t have a backup you can have your certificate re-keyed by your provider. This may take some time so it is much better to export your Exchange server certificate and save it to a safe location. Then it can be quickly imported in the event of a failure. This will reduce down time.
Databases are a little more difficult. Depending on the nature of the failure they may need to be restored from backup. The time required for restore largely depends on the size of the database. With the Exchange standard license you get five databases. So, rather than one large database, go with five smaller ones. This greatly aides your recovery time objective (RTO). Exchange enterprise allows up to a hundred databases giving you even greater capacity.
I always recommend that you architect a database availability group (DAG) where possible. Even if your budget can only cover two Exchange servers–creating a two member DAG with two copies of each database–will put you miles ahead when it comes to disaster recovery. The instructions to recover a DAG member differ and we will cover that in a later article.
Configuration outside of the Exchange tools is going to be a little tougher. You will either need documentation so the changes can be repeated, or, a backup of the changes. Customizations outside of Exchange can include the registry, IIS, or, text-based configuration files. [Read more…] about Recover Exchange Server after total loss