I was quite surprised when someone from Microsoft told me that DPM v2 Beta 1 not only allows backups of Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint, but also supports tape libraries. This would make DPM v2 a serious competitor to backup tools like Symantec Backup Exec or CA ARCserve. It made me quite curious to try DPM v2. Microsoft's latest CDP solution certainly is an interesting backup tool. However, Beta 1 has one major shortcoming.

Like most CDP solutions, DPM 2006 is a disk-based backup tool. DPM v2, its successor, is still disk-based, but you can indeed backup data directly to tapes. I tried it with an old Dell SDLT drive. DPM v2 had no problem storing and retrieving data from it.

Disk-based backups are becoming more and more popular. However, for long-term storage, tapes are still the better solution. With DPM v2, you can easily combine both types of storage media. You simply tell DPM that you want to use disks for short-term backup and tapes for long-term storage when you create a Protection Group, i.e., a backup job.

DMPv2You can separately configure the retention ranges and the backup synchronization frequency for both types. So, for example, you could set a retention time of five days for disk-based backups and a year for tape-based backups. DPM allows a minimum synchronization frequency of 15 minutes for disk-based backups. You can run tape backups daily, but with a five-day retention range for the disk backups, you could work with weekly tape backups.

What I like about this solution is that you only have to configure one backup job for each server. With conventional backup software, you usually have separate job definitions for disk and tape backups and you have separate jobs for daily, weekly, and monthly backups. So all in all, you have six backup jobs for each server. With DPM v2, there is just one, thereby making the setup of backup jobs not only less time consuming, but helpful in keeping a better overview of your backup jobs.

I also ran backups of an Exchange 2003 Server with DPM v2. The DPM agent recognized automatically that Exchange was installed on the server. You can select each Exchange storage group separately as the backup source. DPM v2 supports restores of singular mailboxes, but you can't restore single items like individual e-mails. That means DPM v2 Beta 1 doesn't support so-called brick-level backups.

I wasn't able to restore a single mailbox to the Exchange Server. DPM always complained that the user was still connected to the mailbox, which wasn't really the case. Okay, I understand this is just beta software. I'll try this feature again when the next version is out.

Restoration of the complete database was no problem, though. DPM dismounts the Exchange storage group during the restore process. However, this only works for the latest backup. If you want to restore older backups, you have to restore the database files to a separate location and then mount them with Exchange.

Apart from the tape support and the aforementioned possibility to backup SQL Server and SharePoint, I didn't find any other big changes when compared to DPM 2006 SP1. The user interface looks pretty much the same. I didn't try any backups of SQL Server or SharePoint. I'll probably do that when the final is available.

In the introduction, I said that DPM v2 Beta1 has a major shortcoming. Like DPM 2006, it doesn't support backups of Windows system files. This, at least, is true for the Beta 1. Therefore, DPM v2 Beta 1 can't be used for disaster recovery. However, a Microsoft employee told me that Beta 2 will be able to backup the Windows system state.

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So I am looking forward to Beta 2 to see if this is really true. Beta 1 is also a bit unstable. I had to reinstall it once since the management console (MMC) wasn't able to load the DPM user interface anymore. I'll test DPM v2 more thoroughly as soon as a better version comes out.

14 Comments
  1. Benjamin 16 years ago

    In your statement above, you mentioned that you can use DPM to backup your exchange mail boxes. I have been trying to get my exchange storage group to backup, untill I got this webpage from microsoft.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/909644/en-us

    Acording to it, you cannot directrly backup your exchange while it is online, unless you make use of the Windows Backup Utility, and then backup that backup. Otherwise you have to bring your exchange offline and then backup the exchange database files.

    But seeing that you got it to work, can you please advise me how to do the same.

    Benjamin

  2. Michael Pietroforte 16 years ago

    Benjamin, the page you have linked to is about DPM 2006. My review is about its successor, DPM v2. DPM 2006 doesn’t support Exchange, but DPM v2 does. At the moment there only is a beta of DPM v2.

  3. Benjamin 16 years ago

    My apologies .

    I have been reading through all these documentations and after a while one neglects to read the full title heading.

    I am running the Same DPM V2 Beta 1, but I have problems with it communicating with my exchange.
    If I try to add my Storage Groups of my exchange to my Protected group and it informs me that I don’t have all the prerequisites installed.
    I have installed all the prerequisites on the DPM system. Is there anything that I might have overlooked?

    Everything else seems to work fine, just not the exchange.

    Any Ideas?

  4. Michael Pietroforte 16 years ago

    As far as I remember, I only installed the DPM agent on the Exchange server. I think that this beta is not very reliable. Maybe it is just bug. Did you check the manual for these prerequisites?

  5. Nirman 15 years ago

    Have you checked if you have Exchange 2003 SP2 installed? Or if you testing with Exchange 2007, it has to be the beta 2 release.

  6. Alp 15 years ago

    I have installed DPM V2 Beta one in our Exchange 2007 (RTM CCR) environment. Installation of DPM and agent for Exchange 2007 was not the problem. When DPM starts the initialation process the databases were copied without issues. After copy process DPM started initialization of databases in this phase DPM runs in undefined status. Ideas?

  7. Greg Muir 15 years ago

    We’re using Backup Exec 10d to backup Exchange and it stinks on ice. How much of an improvement is DPM v2 over that?

  8. Benjamin 15 years ago

    I sorted mine out, Exchange 2003 never had SP2 installed.

    I’m sorry Alp, I haven’t tested DPM V2 in Exchange 2007 yet. But I can suggest that you make sure that you have all updates installed on your Exchange and DPM.

    Hi Greg. DPM V2 is a bit nicer than Backup Exc, but I think that the final verdict can only be, after its first release. But I would defiantly suggest that you test it. The only thing that I don’t like about it, is that It doesn’t really Backup Active Directory. You have to use the Windows Backup and then Back up the Windows BK with DPM V2. If it was a live backup, it would have been nicer, the same for the restore process .

  9. Greg Muir 15 years ago

    Well, I guess we can’t have everything.

    What bothers the snot out of me with Backup Exec is that EVERYTHING is made so needlessly complicated. Backups fail with cryptic errors (if I’m lucky!) Usually I’m told the error message cannot be displayed. Backup to disk jobs will fail in the middle of the process complaining that new media cannot be loaded. The Exchange job itself takes 14 hours for a full backup and that’s IF it doesn’t want to bomb out for an unknown and unloggable error. Plus there’s also the joy of Veritas forgetting the name of the tapes stored in the robotic library (Exabyte 10 tape changer.)

    What I despise about backing up to tape is that there’s no way to know for sure that you’ll even have access to the data. It seems like a roll of the dice as to whether things will work correctly or not. And for the money Symantec is charging, this software really should be running itself.

    Calling Symantec support is worthless, of course, because the people they have on the line are not familiar with the software. Very frustrating.

    Has anyone here, ANYONE had a positive experience with the latest backupexec?

  10. Alp 15 years ago

    Hi Benjamin,

    actually I am waiting to the next beta version of DMP V2 I hope it will be better. Still we are using NTBackup and DMP V2 together. I think there are some limitation that’s not so fine,

    1) DPM V2 server is not be able backup himself or backup one local drive to another.

    2) Two way trust is required for backup server from outside of Active Directory

    3) When you creating a backup group the backup group will reserve a part of local hd and the reserved store ist not usable for other things.

    I think DPM V2 is a right way but I am totally agree with Greg “Well, I guess we can’t have everything.”:)

  11. Greg Muir 15 years ago

    The thing that’s driving me a bit batty is trying to figure out the best practice for securing all of the servers. The approach I take with my home computer is “data is data, OS and programs are programs.” Data goes on my D drive, OS and executables go on my C drive. Important personal files on D drive are backed up to my laptop, stuff I can find again is not backed up. I have the CD’s for the OS and programs (or can download the programs again) so I make no other effort to backup the C drive.

    With file servers, things are not so clear-cut. There can be a lot of complicated configurations and settings that are a nightmare to reconfigure. So it’s understandable that people would like to back them up. But trying to find out what the best practices are is like asking for an objective opinion about the best car ever made — you might be able to narrow the field down into “good” and “crap” that can have some factual basis but ultimately you end up arguing about opinion and taste.

    Some people I talk to say they don’t trust any backup software. They manually copy everything to removable hard drives and that’s their offsite backup. They just take a ton of screenshots of every configuration screen and will resort to those manuals if they have to rebuild the box.

    Other people swear that they can get Backup Exec working and if a machine dumps, they can get it up with a few whiz-bangs and it’s restored exactly.

    Other people will say that backing up the machines via Backup Exec is stupid because you capture a lot of files that aren’t necessary (windows directory, swap files, etc) and what you should really do is use the Microsoft utility that can backup all of your configuration files. Then all you need to do to restore things is install the OS, install the apps, install the patches, and then run the restore settings file.

    Ugh! Nobody can agree on anything!

  12. Alp 15 years ago

    Hi all,

    today I have fixed the problem as in posting nr. 6. The problem was, the DPM had the old version of “ese.dll” and “chksgfiles.dll”. After copiying the files in “\Program Files\Microsoft Data..\DPM\Bin” everything works as expected and are looking forward:)

    Additional Microsoft has one new fix for Exchange CCR (both version x86 and x64) which provided in beta place.

  13. Carl@Brightrev 14 years ago

    Why create separate jobs for Daily, Weekly and Monthly backups? Just create one full backup job to run every day. Use Fridays for your Weekly backups and every fourth Friday for your Monthly backups. Label the tape Daily, Weekly or Monthly depending on the job for that day.

    * Create full backup jobs to run every weekday. Name your Monday through Thursday daily tapes Monday1, Tuesday1, etc. (The word indicates the day/type of backup and the number indicates the week of the backup cycle).
    * Use every Friday for the weekly backups. Name these weekly tapes Weekly1 through Weekly3 and reuse them every four weeks. (You could add Weekly 5-7 if you want eight weeks of weekly backups).
    * Use every fourth Friday for the monthly backups. Name your monthly tapes Monthly1 through Monthly6 and reuse them every six months. (Or go up to Monthly13, depending on how long you keep archived backups.)

    You’d still need a separate job for backup to disk, but this is a simple way of getting daily/weekly/monthly backup jobs using one job.

  14. Butch 12 years ago

    I’m with Greg. (comment #11)
    I’ve spent the last several days trying to find a decent backup software that isn’t a complete P.I.T.A. to use. Everyone seems to have his own idea of how backup and recovery should be done. Everyone claims that his method is the fastest, and most reliable. After struggling with the built-in windows software, (recovery isn’t as easy as Microsoft would have you believe) I began looking into 3rd party software. Everythijng I’ve looked at includes nightmare stories of lost data and unreliability. I’ve got a truck load of 500GB external USB hard drives to back up to. I want to back up 3 servers whose sum total of data is around 200GB and growing by about 25GB per year. If they catch fire tomorrow morning, I’d like to be up and running within a few hours of the replacement hardware’s arrival. What’s the most reliable system for getting this accomplished?

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