Some thoughts about MS Exchange recovery possibilities.
I've done quite a few Exchange Server installations in my carreer. Both physical and virtual. The installation and migration processes are quite ok, but when it comes to possible recovery (recovery of DB, recovery of e-mail accounts or recovery individual emails) there are many solutions. I'll try to outline some of them.
There are software solutions to get the DB recovered fast, but sometimes the recovery for exchange server needs to be done by experts working deeper than the software layer. Cases where the exchange server is physical with two disks in raid 5 broken…. I've seen this. But usually IT admins do have some sort of backup, if not they archive the e-mail account to a local PST files, just in case. They're usually try to work with what they have.
To recover an Exchange DB, I had some good results with Enstella, which provides a recovery possibility to exchange's edb file. You basicaly load the edb file into Enstella, and extract the e-mails, contacts, or any other objects of the user. In addition, the software enables you to create an archive (pst) files from the edb file, in case the exchange server is not recoverable.
Very promissing solution for exchange recovery might come from Veeam, which introduced Free tool recently called Veeam Explorer for exchange. Veeam Explorer for Exchange (curently in beta) is designed to review and inspect Exchange backups in order to find and retrieve individual Exchange items without the use of software agents.
“Our product is designed to replace expensive legacy tools currently on the market for Microsoft Exchange recovery and e-discovery,” said Ratmir Timashev, Veeam’s CEO”
Other Software solutions provide agents which installs inside of Exchange server. Those agents are called during the backup process, and also during restore operations.
As for the recovery process, there are also special tools for exchange recovery, like Recovery Manager for Exchange from Quest Sotware, which is able to explore a backup of exchange server and retrieve e-mail accounts and individual objects of an account. The software can connect to different backup solutions, like Quest's NetVault Backup and NetVault FastRecover, native Microsoft backups and most major third-party backup software, including EMC NetWorker, IBM Tivoli, Microsoft Data Protection Manager, Symantec Backup Exec and NetBackup.
The worst possible case can be when there is a client, which seems to have a bakups (he thinks), but those backups aren't usable and unrecoverable. And it's a single exchange installation. If the server crashes then there might be a data loss. Clustering exchange Mailbox roles server installations might be the right answer in addition to verified backup solutions.