Using Windows Server Backup to Back Up and Restore Exchange Data


Applies to: Exchange Server 2010 SP3, Exchange Server 2010 SP2

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 includes a plug-in for Windows Server Backup that enables you to create Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)-based backups of Exchange data. You can use Windows Server Backup to back up and restore your Exchange databases. A thorough understanding of what needs to be backed up, where to store backups, and how to restore backups is key to being an effective Exchange administrator. For more information about what needs to be backed up in Exchange 2010, see Understanding Backup, Restore and Disaster Recovery.

The new plug-in is delivered in the form of an executable called WSBExchange.exe, which is configured to run as a service named Microsoft Exchange Server Extension for Windows Server Backup (the short name for this service is WSBExchange). The plug-in is automatically installed on all Exchange 2010 Mailbox servers and configured by default for manual startup. The plug-in enables Windows Server Backup to create Exchange-aware VSS backups.


To use the plug-in, you must have the Windows Server Backup feature installed. However, you shouldn't install the Windows Server Backup command-line tools. These tools require an older version of the Windows PowerShell command-line interface, which isn't compatible with Exchange 2010. When you install Windows Server Backup, the command-line tool WBAdmin.exe is also installed. This command-line tool can be run from the Windows command prompt (cmd.exe).

For detailed steps about how to back up an Exchange server using Windows Server Backup, see Use Windows Server Backup to Perform a Backup of Exchange.

For detailed steps about how to restore data from a backup taken with Windows Server Backup, see Use Windows Server Backup to Restore a Backup of Exchange.

Before using Windows Server Backup to back up Exchange data, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the following features and options for the plug-in:

  • Backups are VSS-based only. You can't create streaming Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) backups using Windows Server Backup with or without the plug-in.

  • Backups taken with Windows Server Backup occur at volume level. To back up a database and its log stream, you must back up the entire volume containing the database and logs. You can't back up any data without backing up the entire volume containing the data.

  • The backup must be run locally on the server being backed up, and you can't use the plug-in to take remote VSS backups. There is no remote administration of Windows Server Backup or the plug-in. You can, however, use Remote Desktop Services or Terminal Services to remotely manage backups.

  • The backup can be created on a local drive or on a remote network share.

  • Only full backups can be taken. Log truncation will occur only after a successful completion of a full backup of a volume or folders containing an Exchange database.

  • When restoring data, it's possible to restore only Exchange data. This data can be restored to its original location or to an alternate location. If you restore the data to its original location, Windows Server Backup and the plug-in automatically handle the recovery process, including dismounting any existing databases and replaying logs into the recovered database.

  • The restore process doesn't directly support the recovery database (RDB). However, if you restore to an alternate location, you can then manually move the restored data from the alternate location into an RDB, if needed.

  • When restoring Exchange data, all backed up databases must be restored together. You can't restore a single database.

Using Windows Server Backup on Database Availability Group Members

If a server hosting the data being backed up is a member of a database availability group (DAG) and hosts both active and passive database copies, you must disable the Microsoft Exchange Replication service VSS writer. If the Microsoft Exchange Replication service VSS writer is enabled, the backup operation will fail.

To disable the Microsoft Exchange Replication service VSS writer, perform the following steps:

  1. Log on to the server by using an account that has local administrator access, and then start Registry Editor (regedit).


    Incorrectly editing the registry can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Problems resulting from editing the registry incorrectly may not be able to be resolved. Before editing the registry, back up any valuable data.

  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\ExchangeServer\v14\Replay\Parameters.

  3. Add a new DWORD value named EnableVSSWriter, and set its value to 0.

  4. Exit Registry Editor and then restart the Microsoft Exchange Replication service.


If you later want to use a different a backup solution to back up passive database copies on a server that has the Microsoft Exchange Replication service VSS writer disabled, you need to remove the preceding registry key and then restart the Microsoft Exchange Replication service.

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