Microsoft Exchange

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Microsoft Exchange Server leverages a concept known as Exchange Native Data Protection to protect your mailbox data, without the use of traditional backups. 

Microsoft’s preferred architecture for Exchange is to deploy resources in highly available infrastructures, with no single-point-of-failure, incorporating the inbuilt resiliency of database availability groups maintaining database redundancy across geographically separate servers and sites. 

In addition to the multiple server and data center requirements: storage technologies employed for databases must be fixed-disk type SSD, SAS, SATA, DAS or SAN and cannot incorporate cost-effective next-generation object storage

Many organizations don't have the architecture, nor budget, to achieve such complex designs and must rely on more traditional, less "elaborate" strategies to comply with their data availability requirements. 

Equally many of these organizations have gigabytes (often terabytes) of mailbox data they need to store and maintain over periods of years, therefore, they look for efficient options to satisfy their data retention policies.  

If you want to create a traditional backup of your mailboxes you have 2 options which are built into a Microsoft Exchange server;

1. Windows Server Backup (WSB) includes a plug-in that enables you to create quiesced backups of Exchange data.

2. Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication service (MRS) to export Personal Storage Table (PST) files of mailboxes, and import mailboxes from PST.

WSB we covered in a previous solution guide Windows Server Backup and Restore and enables full backups of your Exchange server, albeit in Exchange's case, in an entire server and volume manner, meaning that all backed up databases within that volume (or server) are restored together. You cannot restore a single database, and certainly not an individual mailbox.

MRS, on the other hand, offers a lot of flexibility with granular export and imports of an individual or bulk mailboxes and is perfect for quickly creating a point-in-time copy of a single or multiple mailboxes for backup, regulatory or compliance purposes. 

As we've covered WSB scenarios in another article, let us take a look at PST export and imports to and from a LucidLink Filespace taking advantage of low-cost object storage to dramatically reduce the financial burden of copy data, and backups.

The environment comprises a Filespace mount-point, shared over Server Message Block (SMB) which will become the localhost (or a network-based) target of our PST data.

1. Create your Filespace following our Getting Started Guide (or use an existing). 

If you plan on hosting multiple datasets across different servers, why not setup a User and Share  exclusively for your Exchange server data. Each user (or in this case application) will only have access to the particular data relevant to their requirements.

2. Download and install the LucidLink client, installing LucidLink as a service

lucid service --install
lucid service --start

3. Link and mount our Filespace and mount as a drive letter (in our case M: for our mailboxes). We will use this drive letter as the mailbox export and import share

lucid link --fs <filespace.domain> --user <filespaceuser> --mount-point <driveletter>

4. Share your Filespace mount-point or specific directory within the Filespace which your user has read/write access on the localhost with appropriate user access permissions. 

Command prompt

net share Mailboxes=m:\ /grant:%userdomain%\%username%,full


New-SmbShare -name "Mailboxes" -path "m:\" -fullaccess "$env:userdomain\$env:username"
Ensure you specify appropriate share permissions for your environment and that your user has been assigned the "Mailbox Import Export" role

5. Now that we've our core environment configured, our Filespace is mounted, our mailbox import/export path is shared, we have 2 options to perform mailbox exports and imports: our options are through the user interface (UI) or via the command-line (CLI). 

We will now explore both ways.

6. Exchange Administrative Center (EAC) UI based export and import

a. Select recipient mailbox to export and select more "..." | "Export to a PST file"


b. Confirm database content to export "mailbox" or "archive" proceed with "Next"


c. Specify your Filespace SMB share and PST file


d. Optional: send an email when complete? Select "Finish" when decided.


e. Your PST export has completed successfully. 


Note: you can check the progress of your export through the Exchange Management Shell 
Get-MailboxExportRequest -Mailbox "lucidlink" | Format-List Name,FilePath,Mailbox,Status
Name     : MailboxExport
FilePath : \\exchange\mailboxes\PST\lucidlink.pst
Mailbox : lucidlink.local/Users/lucidlink
Status   : Completed

f. Next lets perform an import begin Select recipient mailbox to import and select more "..." | "Import PST"


g. Specify your PST path


h. Select the appropriate mailbox database


i. And complete with "Finish"


Note: monitor import progress
Get-MailboxImportRequest -Mailbox "lucidlink" | Format-List Name,FilePath,Mailbox,Status
Name     : MailboxImport
FilePath : \\exchange\Mailboxes\PST\lucidlink.pst
Mailbox : lucidlink.local/Users/lucidlink
Status   : InProgress

7. Exchange Management Shell CLI based export and import

a. Launch EMS and perform a New-MailboxExportRequest 

New-MailboxExportRequest -Mailbox "<identity>" -FilePath \\server\share\file.pst


b. Monitor progress

Get-MailboxExportRequest -Mailbox "<identity>" | Format-List Name,FilePath,Mailbox,Status


c. Let's repeat an import of our PST via the CLI

New-MailboxImportRequest -FilePath \\server\share\file.pst -Mailbox "<identity>"


d. And once again, monitor progress

Get-MailboxImportRequest -Mailbox "<identity>" | Format-List Name,FilePath,Mailbox,Status


A LucidLink Filespace can integrate into virtually any operating environment that would benefit from immediate access to object storage. 

Applications that natively access data, as a filesystem, can seamlessly liaise with their data hosted in low-cost object stores as if the data is local and without refactoring. 


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