Backing up Lotus Domino Servers

SUMMARY

Details on how to backup a Lotus Domino server without an agent.

ISSUE

Issue

There is no backup agent available for Lotus Domino or Lotus Notes. This article outlines the files required to ensure a complete backup of your Lotus environment.

Resolution

Lotus Domino databases on Windows 2003 / 2008 / 2012 Server are protected using Bare Metal and File backups. The Windows volume shadow copy service (VSS) is used to capture the open database files in a consistent manner.

Lotus Domino server is a collection of databases using a flat file structure. If you review the database files in a Lotus Domino environment, you will see each user has a unique database for e-mail and they may share application databases. This results in 100s or 1000s of smaller unique database files in the Lotus Notes data directory. In comparison, an Exchange deployment will have relatively few databases, maybe one or two supporting an entire company. The Lotus Domino databases are accessed using Lotus Notes clients. A Lotus Domino database has a file extension of “.nsf”. Within the database file there can be data, design elements and programming code. Each database file also has its own security in the form of an Access Control list (ACL).

A backup of a Domino server should include:

Domino server data files 

All databases

Template files

The notes.ini file

ID files 

The files required to be open for a Domino server to run are:

Logs.nsf

Names.nsf

Mail.box

Server ID file 

We use VSS to backup these open files. Lotus Domino server data is made up of 100s or 1000s of small database files, each of which change almost daily. While a full/differential backup schedule is supported, Unitrends recommends an incremental backup strategy to meet customer retention policies. When using differential backups, the backup will be close in size to a full due to the large amount of file changes occurring daily.

When using the VSS backup method, it is recommended the following two commands be executed pre-backup:

nserver –c “drop all”
nserver –c “dbcache flush”

This releases all open sessions and closes most open files. These commands can be placed into a single batch file on the server which is called by a pre-backup command using the options in a backup schedule.

Unitrends does not support Domino transaction logging.

Notes

This applies to Lotus running in a Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2012 environment.

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