Brick Level backups

I've seen a few posts in the newsgroups recently which indicate that Brick Level backups are still being performed. This type of backup is not recommended for a number of reasons, including... reliability, backup time and greater media requirements. Reliability is probably the main issue, as this backup type has proven to be far too unreliable. This article from Charles Villa explains the reasons for not using brick level backups, both clearly and in some detail. Charles also explains what you should be doing instead... ie online backups of your Information Store and Directory using an Exchange aware backup application be-it NTBackup, Backup Exec, Arcserve (both with Exchange Agents) or whichever. Combine this with the Ed Crowley Never Restore Method and if your budget can stretch to it... Ontrack's PowerControls which'll enable you to extract data from an unmounted priv.edb, and you should be able to sleep much better at night... as long as you've got a tried and tested disaster recovery plan of course.

Chris Meirick on October 7, 2003 at 03:54 PM in Useful Info
« Exchange 2003 Deployment Whitepaper | Main | ForestPrep and DomainPrep with Exchange 2003 »


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Brick Level backups:


What about with Veritas 9? It lets me restore at the message level if I do a mailbox backup, and it also allows for single instance attachment & message backup.

Recovering something from the IS gets difficult when you don't have the hardware to support multiple Exch2k installs too.


Posted by: Brian Desmond at Oct 7, 2003 6:22:40 PM


I am a backup operator in my network, I am running a Win2k Server with
Exchange 2K and I am looking for a better solution for backing up my
individual mailboxes. I am currently using Arcserve 2000 Version 7, I
with a diferential backup configuration.
I am open to any backup suggestions or comments.

Thanks again for your time.

Posted by: Helpdesk at Dec 22, 2003 1:49:39 PM

I have been using Veritas Netbackup Datacenter with Exchange extensions to perform brick level backups since 3.4G, currently I am on 4.5FP6. I have yet to have any problems with backing up or restoring and the amount of extra tapes you will need is completely justified by the benefits you gain from brick level backups. The only negative impact is that it does take significantly longer to run a job, you will most likely only have time to run brick level backups over a weekend. For daily backups I run a regular full backup.

Posted by: Steven Barnard at Jul 15, 2004 2:39:59 PM

What can you do if your boss is asking you restore a piece of mail "disappeared"?

Posted by: John Doe at Feb 7, 2007 3:06:18 PM

Totally disagree, I've recovered entire Exchange servers from brick level backups on a few occasions and it has worked flawlessly. Exmerge must be one of the most underrated Exchange tools out there. Besides, what's stopping admins from performing brick level and whole database backups? There's no law against it! I use ntbackup for the entire private and public databases and then brick level for individual mailboxes. Best of both worlds.

Posted by: Nick Marsh at Jan 13, 2009 4:21:28 AM