Uncovering the new Exchange 2010 Volume Snapshot (VSS) Plug-in (Part 2)

If you would like to read the first part in this article series please go to Uncovering the new Exchange 2010 Volume Snapshot (VSS) Plug-in (Part 1).




In the first part of this two part article series, we specifically looked at how you perform backups using the new Exchange 2007 2010 VSS plug-in.


In this second part, we will take a look at how to perform a restore, both to the original location as well as an alternate location (in case you would like to recover specific mailbox items for one or more mailboxes in a restored database).


Restoring Exchange 2010 Databases to their original location


Now that we have been through the backup process, let us look at the options available when it comes to restoring Exchange data using the new Exchange VSS plug-in included with Exchange 2010.


As mentioned in the beginning of this article, there are two restore options; you can restore to the original location (and thereby overwrite the production databases), or, you can restore to an alternate location. Remember that if you choose to restore one or more databases protected by DAG, you must restore to the active database copy and not one of the passive database copies.


To begin a restore process, you should click on “Recover” in the Action pane as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Selecting Recover in the Windows Server Backup Console


The Recovery Wizard is launched. On the “Getting started” page, make sure “This server (servername)” is selected and then click “Next”.


Figure 2: Selecting this server on the “Getting started” page


Now specify from which date you want to restore Exchange data (Figure 3), and then click “Next”.


Figure 3: Selecting backup date from which we want to restore


On the “Select recovery type” page, select “Applications” (since you want to restore application data) and click “Next”.


Figure 4: Selecting the recovery type


On the “Select application” page, select Exchange and click “View Details”.


If you are restoring the latest backup and, for some reason, you do not want to perform a roll-forward recovery of the databases, make sure you check this option.


Figure 5: Selecting the Exchange application


In the “Details – Exchange” window, you can see the three databases that were backed up in this volume snapshot.


Figure 6: Details window listing Exchange Databases


Click “OK” and then “Next”.


The “Specify recovery options” page is where you can specify whether you want to restore directly to the production databases or if you want to restore to an alternate location. In this first example we will restore to the original location, so select the first option and then click “Next”.


Figure 7: Selecting to recover to original location


On the “Confirmation” page, click “Recover” in order to begin the restore process.


Figure 8: Recovery Confirmation page


Depending on the number of databases that are being restored as well of the size of each database, the restore can take a while.


Figure 9: Restoring Exchange Databases


As you can see in Figure 10, the databases are dismounted and mounted automatically during the restore process.


Figure 10: Windows Server Backup automatically dismounts and mounts databases as necessary


Also, any log files in the backup will be restored (Figure 11).


Figure 11: Restore log files


When the restore process has completed, click Close to exit the “Recover Wizard”.


Restoring Exchange 2007 Databases to an alternate location


In this section we are going to perform another restore, but this time to an alternate location so that after we restore, you will be able to mount a database to a recovery database (RDB) and merge required Exchange data with the respective production database.


Since we no longer have the concept of storage groups in Exchange 2010, recovery storage groups (RSGs) have been replaced by recovery database (RDBs).


So, first thing you need to do is to start another restore session by clicking “Recover” in the “Action” pane. In the “Recovery Wizard” follow the previous steps until you get to the “Specify recovery options” page. Then select “Recover to another location” and then specify to which LUN volume you want to restore the databases and associated log files then click “Next”.


On the Exchange 2010 lab server on which I perform the restore, I have a dedicated restore LUN presented and mounted via drive X.


Figure 12: Restoring to an alternate location


On the “Confirmation” page, click “Recover” in order to begin the restore process.


Figure 13: Restore Confirmation page


The recovery process begins and can take a while depending on the amount of databases as well as the database sizes.


Figure 14: Restoring Exchange Databases


When the recovery job has completed, click “Close” to exit the Recovery Wizard.


Figure 15: Restore completed


We now have all databases and log files from the recovery job at the, in the recovery wizard, specified location as can be seen in Figure 16, 17.


Figure 16: Listing folders restored to the restore LUN


Figure 17: Showing one of the restored log and EDB files


Before we begin creating the recovery database (RDB) and mount the respective database (in this case MDB01), let’s check the state of the database. We can do this with the Eseutil utility run with the /MH switch.


Easiest thing is to open a command prompt window and change to the directory holding the database. From here simply run the following command:


Eseutil.exe /MH “Mailbox Database Name.edb”


Notice the state of the database? Yes it is in a dirty shutdown state, which means we cannot mount it in a recovery database (RDB) before bringing it to a clean shutdown state.


Figure 18: Database in dirty shutdown state


To bring the database to a clean shutdown state, we need to run following command from the log/database file folder:


Eseutil /R E00 /I /d


Figure 19: Bringing the database to a clean shutdown state


Now let’s run Eseutil with the /MH switch again. As you can see in Figure 20, the database is now in a clean shutdown state.


Figure 20: Database in clean shutdown state


Now let’s open Outlook Web App (OWA) and delete some data. In this example, we will delete all messages in the Inbox of a user mailbox stored in the database we want to recover data from via a recovery database (RDB).


Figure 21: Deleting messages in the Inbox via OWA


As you can see the messages have now been deleted from the mailbox.


Figure 22: Items deleted


It’s time to create the recovery database (RDB). Unlike Exchange 2007, this can only be done using an Exchange 2010 commandlet (more specifically the New-MailboxDatabase cmdlet), so let’s switch over to the Exchange Management Shell and type:


New-MailboxDatabase -Name “Recovery Database” -Server E2K10EX02 -EDBFilePath “X:\Restore\Mailbox\MDB01\MDB01.edb” -Logfolderpath X:\Restore\\Mailbox\MDB01\–Recovery


While the recovery database are being created, you will get a warning that the restored database must be in a clean shutdown state. Since we already made sure this is the case, we can continue.


Figure 23: Creating the recovery database


When the recovery database (RDB) has been created, it is also visible via the Exchange Manage Console as can be seen in Figure 24 below.


Figure 24: Viewing the recovery database via the EMC


We now need to mount the recovery database. We can do that via the EMC or EMS. In this article we will use the Mount-Database cmdlet in the EMS:


Mount-Database “Recovery Database”


Figure 25: Mount recovery database


The typical scenario for restoring a database to an alternate location is in order to recover mailbox content for one or more users who accidentally deleted large amounts of data or mailbox users who need something restored that no longer exist in the mailbox dumpster (by default items that have been deleted more than 14 days in the past). In this case it’s the messages we deleted via OWA earlier on in this article.


In this article I want to recover all items that were deleted in a mailbox since this backup was taken.


To recover the mailbox from the restore database, let’s first verify that the user mailbox is listed when running the following command:


Get-MailboxStatistics –Database “Recovery Database”


Figure 26: Listing mailboxes in the recovery database


Run this command to restore content of the mailbox in the recovery database to the production mailbox:


Restore-Mailbox –Identity “Henrik Walther” –RecoveryDatabase “Recovery Database”


Click Yes to the confirmation message.


Figure 27: Warning when restoring mailbox content


Mailbox data will now be restored from the recovery database to the production database.


Figure 28: Mailbox content being restored


When completed, you get statistics about the restore mailbox job. You can for instance see information about the source and target mailbox database etc.


Figure 29: mailbox content restored to production mailbox


Now let us try to open the mailbox again. Voila the messages we deleted before performing the above merge process are now back in the Inbox.


Figure 30: Viewing restored mailbox data via OWA


We can also specify a folder to which the content should be recovered. Doing so means that all recovered items will be recovered to a folder in the mailbox (such as Recovered data). In this case, you would need to use this command: Restore-Mailbox –Identity “Henrik Walther” –RecoveryDatabase “Recovery Database” –RecoveryMailbox “Henrik Walther” –TargetFolder “Restored content”


This concludes this multi part article. Hope you enjoyed it.




Many frustrated Exchange admins and consultants working for or with SORGs and MORGs have been screaming for a native Exchange-aware backup solution for Exchange 2007 SP1 installed on Windows Server 2008 based servers. Although it took some time, the Exchange Product group delivered such as solution as Exchange 2007 SP2 which includes an Exchange VSS plug-in that integrates directly with Windows Server Backup. Fortunately we will have VSS backup natively built into Exchange 2010 RTM.


In this multipart article we uncovered the Exchange VSS plug-in included with Exchange 2010. We took a look at the backup and restore options available with this plug-in as well as highlighted its limitations.


We then went through the steps necessary in order to backup storage groups and databases to a remote network share as well as how you restore backed up storage groups and databases to the original location as well as to an alternate location, so they could be mounted in an recovery database.


If you would like to read the first part in this article series please go to Uncovering the new Exchange 2010 Volume Snapshot (VSS) Plug-in (Part 1).

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