Microsoft Exchange server backup does not happen from a running instance whether the backup is done online or offline. Attempts to backup up the database or Exchange server files from a running instance will result in file skips as there is no provision for open file backup. In the event of disaster, the skipped files will not be available for recovery.

Microsoft recommends that Exchange files should be backed up to separate Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft Server object and then transferred to the backup server online or offline.  For online backups the Exchange administrator or the Exchange Manager will have to be additionally installed. For Cloud backups using third party software, Exchange server requires the installation of the Exchange Agent or Exchange aware backup software.  The agent extends the functionality of the third party backup software. Check out whether your backup service provider has the required plug-in.

Four types of backup operations can be performed on Microsoft Exchange servers being backed up to the Cloud.

  1. Normal or full backup: This backup configuration will allow the Cloud backup service to back up the Exchange Directory or Exchange store completely. The backup will include the backup of log files. However, the log files backed up will be later purged from the backup.  The restoration process results in complete restoration of the Exchange Directory and Exchange Store to the recovery server. The normal backup also provides a context for incremental and differential backup configurations.
  2. Copy: This process is similar to normal backup, but the configuration does not provide a context for incremental or differential backup.  However, a copy backup creates a full backup of the Exchange Directory and Exchange Store for recovery purposes.
  3. Incremental backup: This type of backup configuration takes its context from an existing normal backup on the Cloud backup server. The data being backed up is treated as a subset of the seeded data and only changes to the data are backed up. Restoration of the incremental backup triggers restoration operations on the normal backup and the incremental backup. Log files backed up to the Cloud backup server during the incremental backup are purged once the backup process is complete.
  4. Differential backup: This backup configuration backs up any changes in the Exchange Directory or Exchange store that may have occurred since the last normal backup was completed. Restoration operations triggered from a differential backup require operations on the normal backup and the differential backup. Log files backed up with the differential backup are not purged.