What Terminology Is Used?


Topic Last Modified: 2006-08-16

To understand this guide, make sure that you are familiar with the following terms. Additional terms that are specific to Exchange are defined in the Exchange Server 2003 Glossary.

back up

(verb) To create a duplicate copy of a database or other system component by preserving the actual files that make up that component. These files are typically stored in a different location, such as on specialized storage media.


(noun) The file or other media, typically compressed, that stores files that have been backed up.

backup job

The act of backing up a set of files at the same time.

boot partition

The hard disk partition where your Windows Server 2003 operating system is installed. This partition contains the %systemroot% folder and the %programfiles% folder.

checkpoint file

A file that tracks the progress of transaction logging. The checkpoint file has a pointer to the oldest log file that contains data that has not yet been written to the database. The name of the checkpoint file is Enn.chk, where Enn is the log file prefix of the storage group.

clean shutdown

Whenever a database is shut down, a flag in the database header keeps track of whether the database did the necessary maintenance to put the database in a consistent state. A database that was shut down in a consistent state is referred to as being shutdown clean.

consistent state

If your database is in a consistent state, the database can be remounted without requiring any type of transaction log replay. The database successfully detached from the log file stream when it was shut down. Such a database can be mounted and attached again to the log stream without requiring additional transaction log replay. Changing a database from an inconsistent state to a consistent state generally entails two processes: Restoring the database from a backup that was completed while the database was online, and replaying the transaction log files into the restored database.


In this document, database is a generic term that refers to either a mailbox store or a public folder store. An Exchange database is composed of both information in memory and the database files on the disk. If the information in memory is lost before it is written to the database files on the disk, it can be replayed from the transaction log files.

dirty shutdown

When a database is shut down before you have performed necessary maintenance, it is put into an inconsistent state. This type of shutdown is flagged as a dirty shutdown. This means that some transaction log files must be replayed before the database can be considered consistent. You cannot mount a database that was shut down in this state until the transaction logs have been replayed and the database has properly detached from the current log stream.

Extensible Storage Engine (ESE)

The database engine that Exchange 2003 uses. ESE is a multiuser Indexed Sequential Access Method (ISAM) table manager with full data manipulation language (DML) and data definition language (DDL) capabilities. Applications such as Exchange 2003 use ESE to store records and create indexes.

full computer backup set

You create a full computer backup set when you back up your Windows Server 2003 operating system files, including the System State data and all the applications that you have installed on your server. You must back up these files as part of the same backup job.

hard recovery

Hard recovery is the process that changes a restored database back to a consistent state by playing transactions into the database from transaction log files. To initiate hard recovery, you select the Last Backup Set check box in Backup when you restore your last database, or you can uses the eseutil /cc command. The hard recovery process uses a RESTORE.env file that is generated during the recovery process, to determine how to restore the database files and what transaction log files must be replayed from the temp directory that the backup was restored to. After the databases are copied to their original location, and the transaction log files from the temp directory are replayed into them, hard recovery continues to replay any additional transaction log files that it finds in the transaction log file path specified for the storage group of the restored database. The soft recovery process also replays any additional transaction log files that it finds.

inconsistent state

If your database is in an inconsistent state, it cannot be remounted. A database in an inconsistent state has not been detached from the transaction log stream, and can be mounted only after the appropriate transaction log replay has been done. After the replay, the database is detached from the log stream, and left in a consistent and mountable state.

mailbox store

A database for storing mailboxes in Exchange. Exchange mailbox stores contain data that is private to a user, and also mailbox folders generated when a new mailbox is created for a user. A mailbox store is made up of a rich-text (.edb file) and a streaming native Internet content (.stm file). Although there are two files, the .edb and .stm files, think of them as the two halves of a single database, instead of two distinct databases.

mounted drive

A mounted drive is a drive that is mapped to an empty folder on a volume that uses the NTFS file system. Mounted drives function the same way that other drives function, but they are assigned drive paths instead of drive letters. You can use a mounted drive to add another drive to a computer with all 26 possible drive letters already used, or to extend the size of a volume without having to re-create the volume on a larger disk.

public folder store

The part of the Exchange store that maintains information in public folders. A public folder store is made up of a rich-text .edb file, and a streaming native Internet content .stm file.


To return the original files that were previously preserved in a backup to their location on a server.


When referring to Exchange databases, recovery means to replay transaction log files into a restored database, thereby bringing the database up-to-date. There are two distinct forms of recovery: soft recovery and hard recovery.

offline backup

A backup made while the Exchange 2003 services are stopped. When you perform an offline backup, users do not have access to their mailboxes.

online backup

A backup made while the Exchange 2003 services are running.


A process in which Exchange 2003 examines the transaction log files for a storage group to identify transactions that have been logged, but have not been incorporated into the databases of that storage group. This process, also known as playing back log files, brings the databases up-to-date with the transaction log files.

resource groups

In a cluster, resource groups are collections of resources that are managed as a single unit. In an Exchange 2003 cluster, these resources include the Microsoft Exchange System Attendant service (MSExchangeSA),the Microsoft Exchange Information Store service (MSExchangeIS), the SMTP virtual server, the Microsoft Search (MSSEARCH) service, routing information, and the physical disk resource. During failover, the whole resource group is moved from the failed node to an available node.

soft recovery

An automatic transaction log file replay process that occurs when a database is remounted after an unexpected stop.

The soft recovery process only replays logs from the transaction log file path specified for the storage group containing the affected databases. Affected databases are described as having been shut down in a dirty state. Soft recovery uses the checkpoint file to determine which transaction log file to start with when it sequentially replays transactions into databases. This process makes the databases up-to-date with all recorded transactions.

system partition

The disk partition from which your computer starts. This partition contains files in the root directory such as NTLDR and BOOT.ini.

transaction log files

Files that contain a record of the changes made to an Exchange 2003 database. All changes to the database are recorded in the transaction log files before they are written into the database files. If a database shuts down unexpectedly, unfinished transactions can be restored by replaying the transaction log files into the database.

Windows backup set

The most basic collection of files and folders that is required to preserve a backup of the Windows Server 2003 operating system. This collection includes all the files and folders that Windows created in both the boot and system partitions. The collection also includes the System State data that are preserved along with the Windows Server 2003 operating system files and folders in the same backup.


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