Best Practices for Backing Up SharePoint 2007

SharepointBackupMicrosoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is hard to backup.

You have a lot of moving parts:

  • Multiple servers with different roles
  • Various SQL databases (content, SSP, config etc)
  • Index FS
  • IIS customizations, web parts
  • Logical architecture doesn’t translate into physical components

Although Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 does offer some native tools for backup and recovery (central admin, stsadm, recycle bin), each of these tools has major limitations.   Let’s look at each one:

The first is backup and restore through the Central Administration site:

Using this tool, a backup can be performed at various levels, the highest level being the entire SharePoint farm and the lowest level being an entire content database. It should be noted that this tool does not offer a great deal of granularity and does not provide coverage at the site, subsite, or item level.

Besides only providing granularity to the content database level, one serious shortcoming with this tool is that it does not natively contain any scheduling options. Thus an administrator will need to manually kickoff the backup processes each time it needs to be run or write a customized program to perform backups.

It should also be noted that this backup tool is not very robust. Errors or corruption in the backup file will cause the restore process to fail. Thus, it is good practice to backup the backup files and to consider a more frequent backup schedule.

Another option for advanced users is the stsadm command line tools:

Just like the Central Administration backups, this offers limited granularity.  These tools are cumbersome and manual command-line processes. While they are useful for performing various administrator tasks by a skilled administrator, they do not provide a true backup solution.  One other point about Stsadm is that a restore of the config database (which has many farm setting and a lot configuration data) is not supported with stsadm – VSS based solutions are needed.

An option for single item recoveries is the Recycle Bin:

The Recycle bin does a nice job of single item capture, but one minor issue with the Recycle Bin solution is that it does not allow any granularity when it comes to restore options.

If a user deletes an entire document library, but only a single document needs to be restored, the entire document library must be restored. An additional issue, and the reason why the Recycle Bin is not considered a true backup solution, is that it only captures deletion events. Errors, data corruption, or disaster events are still possible. These problems can occur at the entire farm level or down to the individual item level, and they will not be covered by Recycle Bin.

To address this, robust backup is required, and this backup needs to provide granular coverage down to the individual item level.

I’d recommend checking out the EMC Networker and the Microsoft Module which covers SharePoint, Exchange, SQL, DPM in physical and virtual environments.   Here’s the Networker Microsoft Module home page and here’s a whitepaper on SharePoint protection with Networker.

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