Accessing Exchange Data from Database Snapshots

Table of Contents

Overview

Snap mining allows you to protect data from an offline copy of the Exchange database. The offline copy is a point-in-time snapshot of the data to be used for data protection operations. With snap mining, impact to the Exchange Server can be reduced in a production environment thus improving performance.

Support

Backup and archiving are supported for Exchange Server versions:

  • Stand-alone environments: Exchange 2003 and later
  • DAG environments: Exchange 2010 and later

Prerequisites

For installing the Exchange Offline Mining tool on Exchange 2013 databases, install Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012. For step-by-step instructions, see Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012.

Create a Snapshot

A snapshot needs to be created for snap mining. It can be created before or after configuring the subclient for snap mining. Snapshots are created in one of these ways:

  • Hardware supported storage array
  • Software storage array (Data Replicator)
  • NetApp snapshots

Hardware Supported Storage Arrays

A snapshot can be created with SnapProtect using a supported storage array.

For step-by-step instructions on creating a snapshot with a hardware storage array, refer to SnapProtect - Getting Started - Exchange Database iDataAgent.

Data Replicator

A snapshot can be created with SnapProtect backup when Data Replicator is selected as the storage array. Data Replicator provides the snapshot functionality without the need for any specialized hardware.

For step-by-step instructions on creating a snapshot with Data Replicator as the software storage array, refer to SnapProtect - Getting Started - Data Replicator.

Data Replicator is not supported when mining a snapshot on a single source computer.

Configure Snap Mining

You can mine data from a snapshot directly on the computer hosting the snapshot or from a proxy computer.

Method 1: Mining on a Proxy

Running the data protection job on a proxy server improves performance as it offloads processing on the production Exchange server.

Select one of the following configurations to run a snap mining job on the proxy computer. Then configure the subclient of the Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent.

Configure on Source but Mine on Proxy

In this configuration, the Exchange Database iDataAgent creates the snapshot on the source computer. To run the snap mining job on a proxy but configure it on the source computer, install the following components:

Source Computer

  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Exchange Database iDataAgent
  • Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent/Simpana OnePass for Exchange Mailbox
  • MediaAgent
  • VSS Provider (required for hardware storage arrays)
  • ContinuousDataReplicator (if Data Replicator is the storage array)

Proxy Computer

  • Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent/Simpana OnePass for Exchange Mailbox
  • MediaAgent
  • ContinuousDataReplicator (if Data Replicator is the storage array)

The Exchange Database and Exchange Mailbox /Simpana OnePass are installed on same source client. The Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent/Simpana OnePass is also installed on the proxy server so that the subclient is configured on the source client. Mounting of the snapshot and backing it up are performed on the proxy computer.

Configure on Proxy and Mine on Proxy

In this configuration, the Exchange Database iDataAgent creates the snapshot on the source computer. To configure and run the snap mining job on a proxy computer, install the following components:

Source Computer

  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Exchange Database iDataAgent
  • MediaAgent
  • VSS Provider (required for hardware storage arrays)
  • ContinuousDataReplicator (if Data Replicator is the storage array)

Proxy Computer

  • Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent/Simpana OnePass for Exchange Mailbox
  • MediaAgent
  • ContinuousDataReplicator (if Data Replicator is the storage array)

The Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent/ Simpana OnePass is installed on the proxy server so configuration of the subclient content is performed on the proxy server. Mounting of the snapshot and backing it up are also performed on the proxy server.

Configure Subclient

A Snap Mining job is configured from a subclient of the Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent.

  • Regardless of the settings in Agent properties (General tab), the Deleted Item Retention will always be protected in a snap mining operation.
  • It is recommended to create one snap mining subclient for each database subclient, since only one subclient can mine from a snapshot at a time.
  • It is not recommended to mix snap mining subclients and traditional subclients within the same backupset. 
  • Snap mining can be performed for databases configured in the subclient in which Snap Mining is enabled.
  • Typically, the subclient is configured first before the snapshot is created.

Keep in mind that once snap mining is enabled for a subclient, it cannot be reversed.

  1. From the CommCell Browser, right-click a subclient of the Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent and select Properties.

    This subclient will be used to run the snap mining data protection job.

  2. Click the Mining tab in Subclient Properties.

    Click Perform backup using mining off snapshot.

    Select the Exchange DB client. This is the source computer where the Exchange Database is installed and where the snapshot was created.

    Select the Agent that was used to create the SnapProtect backup. In this case, it is Exchange Database.

    Select the subclient on the source computer to use for mining the SnapProtect backup in Exchange DB subclient to use.

    If you configured the snap mining job on a source computer but to be run on a proxy, select Proxy Client and select the proxy computer from the drop-down list.

    • The content of a subclient that will be used for snap mining should not be manually assigned. If any mailboxes are assigned to a subclient before running a snap mining data protection job, they may not be included in the job.
    • If the target database for the snap mining data protection job contains a mailbox that currently exists in another subclient, it will not be included in the data protection job. It is recommended to remove it from the other subclient's content so that the next snap mining data protection job will pick it up.

    Click OK to save your changes.

Method 2: Mining on a Single Computer

When running a snap mining job on a single computer, install the following components.
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Exchange Database iDataAgent
  • Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent/ Simpana OnePass for Exchange Mailbox
  • VSS Provider (required for hardware storage arrays)
  • MediaAgent
  • ContinuousDataReplicator (if Data Replicator is the storage array)

In this configuration, the Exchange Database and Mailbox iDataAgents/ Simpana OnePassfor Exchange Mailbox are installed on the same computer, so creating the snapshot and configuring the subclient is performed on this computer. Mounting of the snapshot and backing it up are also performed on this computer.

Configure Subclient

A Snap Mining job is configured from a subclient of the Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent.

  • Regardless of the settings in Agent properties (General tab), the Deleted Item Retention will always be protected in a snap mining operation.
  • It is recommended to create one snap mining subclient for each database subclient, since only one subclient can mine from a snapshot at a time.
  • It is not recommended to mix snap mining subclients and traditional subclients within the same backupset. 
  • Snap mining can be performed for databases configured in the subclient in which Snap Mining is enabled.
  • Typically, the subclient is configured first before the snapshot is created.

Keep in mind that once snap mining is enabled for a subclient, it cannot be reversed.

  1. From the CommCell Browser, right-click a subclient of the Exchange Mailbox iDataAgent and select Properties.

    This subclient will be used to run the snap mining data protection job.

  2. Click the Mining tab in Subclient Properties.

    Click Perform backup using mining off snapshot.

    Select the Exchange DB client. This is the source computer where the Exchange Database is installed and where the snapshot was created.

    Select the Agent that was used to create the SnapProtect backup. In this case, it is Exchange Database.

    Select the subclient on the source computer to use for mining the SnapProtect backup in Exchange DB subclient to use.

    If you configured the snap mining job on a source computer but to be run on a proxy, select Proxy Client and select the proxy computer from the drop-down list.

    • The content of a subclient that will be used for snap mining should not be manually assigned. If any mailboxes are assigned to a subclient before running a snap mining data protection job, they may not be included in the job.
    • If the target database for the snap mining data protection job contains a mailbox that currently exists in another subclient, it will not be included in the data protection job. It is recommended to remove it from the other subclient's content so that the next snap mining data protection job will pick it up.

    Click OK to save your changes.

Run a Snap Mining Job

Run a snap mining job by selecting the subclient that was configured.

The procedure to run a snap mining data protection job is the same for all configurations, except for the configuration where the subclient is configured on the proxy server instead of the source computer.

  1. From the CommCell Console, navigate to Client Computers | <Client> | Exchange Mailbox | defaultBackupSet.

    Right-click the <Newly Created Subclient> and click Backup.

  2. Under Job Initiation, Ensure Immediate is selected.

    Click OK.

  3. You can track the progress of the job from the Job Controller.

    By default the first backup for a Simpana OnePass agent is always a Full backup.

  4. Once the job is complete, view the details of job by right-clicking the Subclient and selecting Backup History

  5. Click OK.

  6. Right-click the job to:
    • View items that failed, if any, during the job.
    • Resubmit the job.
    • View job details, such as the number of mailboxes archived.
    • View events associated with the job.
    • Send the log file that is associated with the job.

View Job History

Once a snap mining job has completed, it may be useful to view specific historical information about the job, such as the following:

  • Items that failed during the job
  • Items that succeeded during the job
  • Details of the job
  • Media associated with the job
  • Events of the job
  • Log files of the job.

This information can be viewed in the Job History window. The history provided depends on the entity from which the job history is viewed. For example, viewing job history from the subclient level will yield information for the jobs performed for that subclient. Conversely, viewing job history from the instance level will yield information for jobs run from all subclients within that instance.

To view the backup job history:

  1. From the CommCell Browser, right-click the entity (client computer, iDataAgent, instance, or subclient) whose backup history you want to view, click View, and then click View Job History.
  2. From the Job History filter window select the filter options, if any, that you want to apply, and then click OK.

    The system displays the Job History window.

  3. Once you have chosen your filter options, they are displayed in the Job History window.

    To view the additional options discussed above, right-click the desired job choose the appropriate option.

  4. Click OK.

Best Practices

It is not recommended to use Regular Expression or Active Directory group auto-discovery affinity on a backupset which contains subclients configured for Snap Mining as the subclient content association may not behave as expected and some mailboxes may fail to be protected. In this case, it is recommended to use Database affinity as the auto-discovery method.

FAQ

  • Exchange 2010 message moderation approval requests may fail to restore if they were protected by a Snap Mining operation.
  • Mailbox Quotas are not supported by Snap Mining.