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Enterprise Vault Backup Best Practices
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the best practices that should be considered when performing a backup of Enterprise ...
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the best practices that should be considered when performing a backup of Enterprise Vault. Firstly, let’s take a quick look at what Enterprise Vault is used for.
- Place the environment into Backup Mode to ensure a consistent backup of all components.
- Back up databases: System databases, Fingerprint databases, and Vault Store databases.
- Back up Storage Locations: The locations of the archived items and ensuring the Directory Database is also backed up.
- Back up Index Locations: File system folders that contain the Enterprise Vault indexes for archived data.
- Back up the Classification Policy Folder: Any classification policies and modifications are stored in a network share which should be backed up when changes are made.
What is Enterprise Vault Used For?
Enterprise Vault was first developed over 20 years ago. It rapidly grew in usage and in scope of operation to be an archiving platform for many different types of data. Most commonly Enterprise Vault is used to archive:
- Microsoft Exchange end-user mailboxes
- Microsoft Exchange journal archives
Through various integrations the list of source platforms that Enterprise Vault can archive from has grown dramatically over the years. So, your organization might make use of many different features of Enterprise Vault.
Enterprise Vault can swiftly become a large platform consisting of many different servers spread over several different sites located, in many situations, around the globe.
Obviously when important information like email is stored in such a system and the original version remove or replaced, it’s critical to ensure that the environment is properly backed up in case of disaster.
How do I Backup Enterprise Vault?
There are several things to take into account when you wish to backup Enterprise Vault:
1/ Placing the environment into Backup Mode
2/ Backing up databases
3/ Backing up storage locations
4/ Backing up Index Locations
5/ Backing up the classification policy folder
Let’s take a brief look at it in turn:
1/ Placing the Environment into Backup Mode
Enterprise Vault consists of 3 major components: The databases, the Vault Store storage locations, and the Index storage. It is important to understand that for a consistent backup, these components need to be backed up with the same number of archived items, otherwise the restore will create an inconsistent state.
To prevent diverging item counts, EV administrators need to set the system into “backup mode”, so that no new database additions, item storage processes or index updates can be written, while read access to the data is still possible.
This can be achieved via PowerShell cmdlets or via the Vault Admin Console. You can set Backup Mode at various levels:
- Vault Store Group
- Vault Store
- Index Locations
Once Backup Mode is enabled can be assured that no additions, modifications or deletions can take place to your archives (or indexes). This means you can move on to the next step.
2/ Backing up Databases
There are three different types of databases which need to be backed up:
- System databases – This includes the Enterprise Vault Directory database, the Enterprise Vault monitoring database, the Enterprise Vault audit database (if you use auditing), and the Enterprise Vault FSA Reporting database (if you use FSA Reporting)
- Fingerprint databases – Each Vault Store Group usually has a fingerprint database (the filename will be of the form EVVSG_vaultstoregroupname_number_number)
- Vault Store databases – Each Vault Store will have a database (the filename will be of the form EVvaultstorename_number)
3/ Backing up Storage Locations
These are the locations of the archived items. Before backing them up it’s important to put the appropriate Vault Store in backup mode. After backing up one or more Vault Store, and its corresponding storage location, make sure that the Directory Database is also backed up.
4/ Backing up Index Locations
These are file system folders that contain the Enterprise Vault indexes for archived data. To find out the paths that need to be backed up take a look at the Index Locations tab on the properties of the Indexing Service on each Enterprise Vault server that hosts indexing in your environment.
5/ Backing up the Classification Policy Folder
Any classification policies which have been set up, or modifications to build in classification policies are stored in a network share which is referenced when you initially setup classification. This location needs to be backed up when changes have been made to policies.
A very useful addition in recent years has been the ability to manipulate Backup Mode in your Enterprise Vault environment using PowerShell command-lets. With these you can integrate your Enterprise Vault environment with many popular enterprise backup solutions from several different vendors.
Enterprise Vault environments can become quite complex. To help in determining what needs to be backed up there is a PowerShell script (Transform-Backup.ps1) that can be run to create a HTML file describing what needs to be backed up.
How do I Know if Enterprise Vault is in Backup Mode?
The simplest way to find out if some or all of your Enterprise Vault environment is to use the Vault Admin Console. You can check the Vault Store Groups by navigating to the Vault Store Group node in the console and verifying if the group or vault stores within the group, are in backup mode,
You can also check index locations by navigating to the indexing service node underneath an Enterprise Vault server, opening the properties and looking at the Index Locations tab.
Remember if parts of your environment are in Backup Mode, then there are going be operations like archiving, and index rebuilds or updates which are not going to be able to be performed.
A final way to review the status of Backup Mode is via the events which are logged in the Windows Event Log. There are some events logged when vault stores enter and leave backup mode, as well when indexes enter and leave backup mode. Further, when the indexing service starts an event will be logged which lists all of the index locations which are in backup mode.
In this blog we’ve gone through some of the best practices to consider when you need to ensure that your Enterprise Vault environment is appropriately backed up in case of a disaster. It’s not a task to be taken lightly, so careful thought and planning needs to be undertaken.
With such a large task to be performed, your organization might consider performing a data archive migration project to migrate your data to the cloud.
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