Some days ago, I posted a list of backup tools for Microsoft Exchange supporting Continuous Data Protection (CDP). Meanwhile, I tested Lucid8 DigiVault, a CDP solution that is easy to manage and an interesting option for bigger companies.
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First of all, I have to correct a mistake I made in my previous post. I wrote that only XOsoft Enterprise Rewinder is unable to perform brick level backups. Now, I found out that DigiVault doesn't support it, too. (I already corrected my former article.) I was misled by a Networkworld review about DigiVault. The author mentioned that end-users can restore mailboxes. However, DigiVault neither supports end-user recovery nor allows the recovery of single mailboxes.
Anyway, DigiVault is an interesting CDP solution. Installation was easy. Requesting a demo license using the built-in licensing function didn't work though. I, then, requested a license file from the Lucid8 support by e-mail. Within a day, I got a 30-day demo license.
The manual is a bit short-winded for my taste. After reading almost half of it, I still was not able to perform a backup. So I just started playing with the software, consulting the manual only if I don't understand a term. It didn't take long until I figured out, how DigiVault works.
First, you have to attach a drive to the server hosting the so-called DigiStore agent, the centralized repository for DigiVault backups. A DigiStore agent can be on the same server as Exchange. In most cases, installing the DigiStore agent on another server is recommended, though. This way, the load on the Exchange server is reduced and you get more redundancy too. You can specify the space DigiVault reserves on the attached drive. The rest of the space can still be used by other applications.
The next step is to setup a backup policy. Basically, policies are backup job schedules for full and incremental backups. For the latter you have three options: "whenever data changes", "when committed cycle exceeds", and when "whenever committed log account exceeds".
The first option is, what is supposed to be "real" continuous data protection. Unfortunately, this option didn't work during my tests. I guess something was wrong with my configuration. The other two options worked fine. I was able to create incremental backups using one minute interval. You can adjust the time interval depending on your resources. For most environments, a 15 minute interval is probably the best setup.
Restoration of the Exchange stores worked without any problems. Before you can recover an Exchange server, you have to dismount the corresponding stores using the Exchange System Manager. DigiVault can mount them automatically after the complete restoration. To recover a complete Exchange store, it is enough to select one of the incremental backups. This is different compared to traditional incremental backups, where you have to restore a full backup with all its successive incremental backups.
Another difference is that you will get the exact state of the database it had at the time when the last incremental backup was running, i.e. not only data of the full backup and the items which were added to the database since the last full backup will be restored; DigiVault doesn't restore items that were deleted during the time between the full backup and the incremental backup.
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All in all, DigiVault is easy to use. Thus, I can recommend the CDP tool for smaller companies with only one Exchange server. However, DigiVault has some features which address bigger companies with several Exchange systems. For example, a DigiStore-enabled server can be used by multiple DigiVault agents as backup destination. You can even setup multiple DigiStore systems if one server doesn't have enough storage capacity or network bandwidth. Everything can be managed centrally with one interface, the so-called Enterprise System Protector Console.