Thursday, January 15, 2015

Importance of checking your E-mail backup

E-mail Backup

This post is about the importance of verifying you have a good backup of your e-mails.

I find that many of my customer don't think about their e-mail when discussing what should be kept on the server for the purpose of central backup.Yet when they think they have lost it or their address book they are in a panic. Even if they are aware of the need to backup, most don't know were the email is stored on their computer in order to back it up.

This simply points out that everyone should verify their email is being backed up regularly. 

3 ways to have backups of your email:

1. store e-mails on your server with Exchange or other e-mail server. In turn the server should have regular backups.

2. Use e-mail through a high quality e-mail provider. Careful with offsite services though. One of my customers uses hosted exchange service and was assured of adequate backups. Mysteriously one day all his e-mail disappeared on all the computers where he accesses it. When he called his provider they said the only backup they keep is on mirrored drives, so they had no way to recover the lost e-mails. (fortunately for him, we were able to recover from a backup he had made of his entire hard drive).
  If you choose this method and you are using hosted exchange confirm with your provider that have archival backups. If you are just using standard pop or imap email then either confirm archival backups of use an email program such as outlook, Thunderbird, etc to download copies of the e-mails to your computer AND leaves a copy on the server. 

3. Use an e-mail program such as Outlook or Thunderbird without permanently leaving a copy on your provider's server and perform a backup of that e-mail program's storage. The key to this method is determining where the program stores the address book and messages. You can perform the backup to a storage drive (USB or network attached), a location on your server (which in turn is regularly backed up) or to a cloud based backup location. 

Outlook/Exchange Backup archive mistake

This post addresses a common mistake users make with Outlook connected to an Exchange server.

One of my customers recently got a new computer. We transfered his documents, desktop, Outlook - exchange , etc. Today he mentioned his saved messages were missing. Upon investigation I discovered he was archiving his messages that he wanted to save long term using the Outlook archive feature. The flaw in this is that while his exchange mailbox is stored on the server, and thus backed up and availble when he changes computers, the archive folder in outlook is stored on his local hard drive and subject to being lost in case of corruption or hard drive failure. 

A better method for keeping messages is to create a folder in the primary mailbox and move messages to there.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monitor Backups

I can’t tell you how important it is to not only have a backup frequently but to monitor it to verify it is happening, it is successful and, if possible, test it by doing a small restore occasionally. I have had a couple customers recently who had scheduled , automatic backups setup and just assumed it was working. Unfortunately, when it came time to need something from the backup I found it wasn’t working correctly. at some point in the past something changed and the backup stopped working. This applies whether you do the backup manually, have an automatic backup to local media or to an online location.
If you don’t know how to verify your backup, Ask!
If you don’t want to mess with it, pay someone to monitor it for you. The minimal cost is well worth it.