When You Don’t Need Backup: Exchange Hard Deletes and Soft Deletes

Understand the difference between a hard delete and a soft delete.

    • Store Soft Delete: A deleted item has been taken from the deleted Items folder and placed within the dumpster
    • Store Hard Delete: An item has been marked to be removed from the store.
    • Hard Outlook Delete (Shift-Delete):  An item in Outlook is shift-deleted and it’s then placed within the dumpster automatically.

Understand what your item recover options are for your particular version of Exchange – Exchange 2010 is different from Exchange 2007, 2003, and 2000 in this regard.  Also understand the features that Exchange 2010 brings to the table regarding both short-term and long-term preservation of data.

Configure your retention period for deletions using Exchange rather than relying on a backup or archival product for individual item restore.

Backup: Exchange Integrity Checking

Ensure that your Exchange backup performs Exchange integrity checking inline before the backup operation commences.  If you’re going to perform a backup, you want to make sure you can recover what you backed up.

Backup: Compression and Deduplication

Microsoft engineers are continually working with the ISAM-based Exchange database technology to get every last bit of scalability from a given server platform.  Make sure that your data reduction technology, whether it be compression or deduplication, add processing overhead in your Exchange server environment.  Look for backup technologies that offload compression and deduplication back to your backup server rather than pushing those tasks to your Exchange server.

Backup: Encryption

In addition to avoiding overhead on your Exchange server for compression and deduplication, make sure that you also overload any encryption you may choose to use from your Exchange server to your backup server.  Also make sure that you understand the impact of encryption, which works by eliminating patterns in data, on your data reduction ratios with respect to compression and deduplication.

Backup: Alternative Location Restoration

Ensure that you can restore your Exchange backup not just to its original location, and not just to another Exchange server, but to any storage including the storage associated with the backup server.  This allows both migration capabilities and faster group restores.

Backup: D2D2x

Disaster recovery is best achieved in a D2D2x (Disk-to-Disk-to-x, where “x” can be cloud, disk, or tape.)  Make sure that your backup strategy allows you the flexibility of using either private- or public-cloud electronic vaulting or on-premise rotational archiving with disk or tape.

Archival: Evaluate the Exchange 2010 Archive Mailbox Feature

Make sure you understand your options with respect to Exchange 2010 archive mailbox feature and whether it will meet your needs.  Don’t pay for third-party archival features that you may not need.  At the same time, remember that Exchange 2010’s archive features are basic – you may need more functionality if you are in a heavily regulated environment.