GUEST ESSAY: Best practices to shrink the ever-present risk of Exchange Server getting corrupted

By Bharat Bhushan

Even in the cloud era, Microsoft Exchange Server remains a staple business communications tool across the globe.

Related: The need for robust data recovery policies.

One critical issue faced by organizations that rely on Exchange Server is the risk of a corrupt Exchange Server database cropping up.

Fortunately, effective tools and wise best practices can help mitigate this this exposure enabling companies to indefinitely leverage Exchange Server as a productive, resilient and secure communications tool.

Navigating new risks

Today, heavy reliance on cloud-centric IT infrastructure and cloud-hosted applications has become the norm. Yet a significant number of enterprises and small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) continue to rely on Exchange Server.

Microsoft introduced this e-mail and calendaring server in 1996 and over time it has over time become ubiquitous in enterprises and small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) alike.

While the rise of cloud computing brought alternatives like Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365,) Exchange Server adapted by offering both on-premises and hybrid deployments.

Empowering control

In an operating environment of hyper interconnectivity and rapid software development, Exchange Server can offer tangible, hands-on control over sensitive data. And this has material value for organizations concerned about data sovereignty.

At the same time, rising digital complexity has given rise to unprecedented failure scenarios involving hardware, software and cloud-configuration lapses. These can lead to costly disruptions, data loss, not to mention  leave businesses wide-open exposure to criminal hackers.

Exchange server ordeal

Take what recently happened to iConnect Consulting, a San Francisco-based supplier of Laboratory Information Management System (LIMs) consulting services.

iConnect  faced a major disruption of its Exchange services, stemming from a corrupted RAID drive and extending into their backups. This rendered their Exchange databases “dirty,” posing a substantial threat to their data integrity. Exhaustive data recovery attempts using logs, databases and Exchange shell prompts proved futile.

The inability to recover email historic data in a timely manner put the company’s core operations at risk, affecting user satisfaction and potentially undermining its reputation.

This led iConnect to deploy Stellar Repair for Exchange Software, a specialized Exchange recovery tool designed to preserve Exchange Server folder structures and customizations while expediting the overall restoration process.

Stellar Repair for Exchange scans corrupt EDB files and recovers mailbox items, including emails, attachments, contacts, calendars, notes, tasks, journals, and public folders. It then can repair the exchange database in case of missing log files or any severe database corruption error.

The user interface is intuitive, making it accessible for users with varying levels of technical expertise. Recovered mailboxes can be exported directly to the live Exchange server, with minimal downtime, or even to Office 365, by establishing a connection through valid admin credentials.

Proactive management

Bhushan

While it is great to have a powerful data recovery tool, like Stellar Repair for Exchange, readily at hand, businesses today should also proactively manage Exchange Server risks springing from the rising digital complexity. Here are a few ‘dos:’

•Rigorous vulnerability management. Diligently apply the latest security patches and updates provided by Microsoft to protect against known Exchange Server vulnerabilities.

•Robust access control. Implement strong password policies and multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access.

•Comprehensive monitoring. Employ continuous monitoring for suspicious activities and have a well-defined incident response plan ready to address any security breaches.

•Backup strategies. Encrypt sensitive data and maintain regular, secure backups to ensure data integrity and availability, even in the event of system failures or cyber attacks.

•User education: Regularly train employees on cybersecurity best practices, including recognizing phishing attempts and secure handling of sensitive information.

These practices are foundational for maintaining the security and operational integrity of Exchange Server environments.

About the essayist: Bharat Bhushan is technical marketer at Stellar Data Recovery. He is skilled in Microsoft Exchange Database, MSSQL Database troubleshooting and data warehousing.

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