Backup and Restore in SharePoint 2010

Written By: Arshad Ali -- 10/21/2010 -- join -- contribute -- (0) comments -- printer friendly version

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Categories: Configurations, Infrastructure, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010, System Administration

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So what are the 'out of the box' Backup and Restore options available in SharePoint 2010?  How do we backup the SharePoint farm, web applications and different components? How have Backup and Restore processes have improved from previous versions of SharePoint to SharePoint 2010?


As a SharePoint Administrator, you need to set up a backup plan so that you can restore your SharePoint farm or SharePoint web applications without any hassles if a disaster happens or even to create a replica of your production environment for QA and development purposes.

Backup and restore functionalities in SharePoint 2010 have matured tremendously from  previous versions. Now you can backup and restore farms as well as web applications from the Central Administration more easily. You can even take granular backups. For example, you can take a backup of any specific site collection from the Central Administration. You can export site content to the file system and import it into another site.

And yes. now you don't need to setup another temporary farm to just restore some content from the backup, you can simply restore a content database on any SQL Server instance and then use the unattached content database recovery feature from Central Administration to restore the selected content.

This tip discusses the Backup and Restore of a SharePoint farm, web applications and components from the Central Administration as well as from PowerShell and the STSADM command.

Backing-up SharePoint farm from the Central Administration

Go to START -> All Programs -> Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products -> SharePoint 2010 Central Administration.

On the left side, click on the Central Administration link and in right side, in the detail pane, you will see Backup and Restore options as shown below.

You can also directly click on the Backup and Restore link in the left side to go to Backup and Restore page as shown next.

On the Backup and Restore page, you can see two sections, Farm Backup and Restore which allows you to take backup of SharePoint farm and web applications and also restore them when required. You can even see the status of any running backup and restore operations and also view the history of any backups taken so far on the specified location. (I will be talking about Granular Backup in more detail in a future tip).

Click on the Perform a backup link under Farm Backup and Restore to start the backup operation. You need to make sure SharePoint 2010 Timer (used to send notifications and perform scheduled tasks for SharePoint) and SharePoint 2010 Administration (used to perform administrative tasks for SharePoint) windows services are running or else you will not be able to perform backup and restore operations.

On the first step, you can select either to backup a whole farm or an individual web applications or components from it. In this example we will take a backup of a whole SharePoint farm. After selecting "Farm" we see all the components within it by default get selected.

On the second step, you can re-define the components you are going to take a backup of.  Next you need to define backup types. i.e. full backup or differential backup (which you can take only if you have taken at least one full backup beforehand). A differential backup combines the changes which happened since the last full backup. If your content database is not that huge, it is recommended to setup for full backup only which would be easier during a restoration. If you have a very large database, then you can combine these two backup types for reduced backup time and less storage. With restoration, you need to restore the latest full backup first followed by the latest differential backup.

By default both configuration settings and content databases are backed up as part of backup operation, though if required you can choose to backup only the farm configuration. And finally you need to specify a backup location where a folder will be created and backed up components will be stored. On the bottom section of the next screen you can see the estimated disk space required for the selected backup type.

Click on the Start Backup button to create a timer service job which will run in the background and take this backup. As I said before you need to have both the SharePoint 2010 Timer and SharePoint 2010 Administration windows services are running.

On the Backup and Restore Job Status page, you can monitor the status of your backup or restore job (pictured below). In this case, 43 items have been backed up out of total 192. This page gets refreshed every 30 seconds to reflect current information but you can also refresh it by clicking on Refresh link.

The Default Backup and Restore Settings page allows you to specify the number of threads which will be used during a backup operation and the number of threads which will be used during a restore operation. By default it is 3 threads -- if the number of threads were higher, performance would be higher but it would consume more resources. Also going through the logs generated by these higher number of threads would be a little difficult.

Next you can specify the default backup location, each timer job will create a new sub folder and store the content within it.

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