As someone who spends a lot of time writing about BDR (backup and disaster recovery), I try to be attentive to backing up my own data. Yet, I’ve learned a couple of valuable (read: hard) lessons over the past year — one of which occurred this morning.
Last night I left my computer on (with Outlook running) [Mistake #1] and my backup software ran a cloud sync of my Outlook files at 4:30 this morning [Mistake #2]. When I arrived to my office a few hours later and clicked my Inbox folder to check my messages, I received the following message: “This folder cannot be viewed because it is not an Outlook data file.” Ugh.
Apparently, during the process of syncing my Outlook files to the cloud, my Outlook file became corrupted. Perhaps new emails were coming in during the synchronization, or maybe the fact that my Outlook was still open contributed to the problem — I can’t say for sure. What I can say for sure is that both my local file and cloud backup were corrupted, and my options weren’t looking good. Further research led me to an online forum where I found multiple contributors citing my BDR vendor’s cloud backup module being the culprit due to a shallow integration with Outlook, which rears its ugly head when Outlook is running during the time of a backup.
Here were the options I was left with:
1. Perform a complete restore of my machine from the last incremental file backup (last night, three hours before the Outlook cloud sync occurred)
2. Perform an image restore from the last successful image backup (this was the more certain method for getting Outlook back to a clean state, but it would take longer, plus it would result in greater data loss)
3. Attempt to fix the corrupted file.
My research pointed to two options for repairing the corrupted Outlook file: a. pay $250 to use a tool like DataNumen Outlook Repair or b. try Microsoft’s free Inbox Repair Tool. Fortunately, after finally finding Microsoft’s free tool (It’s already included in the Microsoft Office program folder) and running the tool, it was able to detect and correct the corrupted files.
So, I feel lucky this time that none of my Outlook data was lost — if the data had been too corrupted for the Microsoft tool to correct I would have been faced with the choice of shelling out $250 for a more robust tool or doing an image restore based on data that was a couple of days old. Besides mentally resolving to always close out of Outlook at the end of the day, I removed the ‘sync’ feature from my Outlook file and won’t be using another cloud synchronization tool until I know for sure that it’s tightly integrated with Outlook and less likely to cause the same issues.
So, how about you: What dirty BDR secrets have you uncover from your current/previous BDR vendor? If you can save me and/or any readers of this blog from any further hard lessons, we’d greatly appreciate it!