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Brick-Level Mailbox Backup Explanation

Exchange Server brick-level backup means backing up the smallest available information objects (mailbox items), and there are a few things you should know about these “bricks”.

In this article, we are going to explain the different Exchange backup approaches and show you how to perform a granular restore using CloudBerry software for MS Exchange backup.

Table of Contents

    What Is Brick-Level Backup in MS Exchange?

    As a “brick” is an essential part of a building, the mailbox items (emails, calendar events, contacts and so on) are basic for an Exchange database. So the brick-level backup means that data will be captured on the mailbox object level during a backup session.

    This is different from a regular database-level backup when you access DB as a data object using Exchange API. DB-level backup is faster and simpler, but it generally does not allow you to restore individual mailbox items without full DB restoration. On the other hand, brick-level backup operates as a mailbox client - similar to Microsoft Outlook - and uses MAPI protocol to access every user’s items separately. Of course, many individual connections using client protocol are slowing your backup down, so you cannot directly replace DB backup with “bricks”.

    There is also a database-related logs mechanism, allowing you to store any transaction made. You should care about these logs when performing DB backup: full database backup will clear log files thus keeping DB consistent. If you do not perform full DB backups on a regular basis, these log files will grow constantly, so future data recovery process will become tricky and time-consuming.

    The ability to restore a separate Exchange server’s items allows you to recover accidentally deleted or modified emails, calendars, and other files with an expired Exchange retention period.

    Moreover, you can rebuild damaged mailbox archival files easier and restore the data directly from a database backup.

    Keeping these considerations in mind, both backup approaches should be implemented separately. Let’s see how to get the data back for a particular Exchange user.

    Granular Restore in Exchange 2010 with CloudBerry

    Unlike other solutions, CloudBerry Backup allows you to mix the benefits of both backup approaches: good backup speed while being able to recover individual mailbox items. It is possible because CloudBerry Backup takes regular Exchange DB backups and then implements an internal recovery proxy that acts as a medium between database backup and the production Exchange server. You should only choose the recovery point desired and point to where the target production server is.

    Currently CloudBerry Backup supports all current MS Exchange Servers. Granular recovery, however, is available with MS Exchange 2010 since Microsoft does not officially support the DB-level recovery of individual mailbox items and does not provide a specific API. We have to implement every single point of such a recovery scenario by ourselves.

    Now let’s check how it works.

    How to perform a granular item-level restore using CloudBerry Backup

    First of all, you need to create a database backup of the Microsoft Exchange Server - please use our manual if you have not performed it before.

    • After the backup has been completed, navigate to your Exchange Server database backup on the left pane, and then select a particular database backup on the right:

    • Right-click this backup and choose Item Level Recovery in the pop-up menu. Recovery wizard will prompt you to apply database logs - allow it to have a consistent database with all emails (even those stored only in log files). It will also prompt you to enter a decryption password if you decided to encrypt the data during backup.
    • In the Exchange, Item Level Recovery window navigate to the desired backup using the left pane, then right-click it and select Restore.
    • You will see Exchange Server connection properties, such as server address, user email and password, and target folder. You should fill all of these fields using the credentials of the user with full mailbox access rights.

    After CBB finishes the message export to the mailbox you have specified, the restoration process is completed.


    Restoring individual mailbox items (bricks) is not possible without special mailbox-level backup, which is much slower than regular database level backup. CloudBerry Backup contains its own data restoration feature allowing you to recover individual mailbox items for any user in your organization using only DB backups. You just can use the same backup job for any Exchange recovery scenario.

    Try CloudBerry Backup for MS Exchange free and check our item-level recovery for Exchange.

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