Friday, 29 August 2008
SharePoint Backup – A Ripping Yarn
According to my family I have always been an unfortunate chap and if things can go wrong they often, in a ‘Frank Spencer’ style, do. So perhaps trying to ride a tandem bicycle around the Peak District last week after I hadn’t been on a bike for over twenty years was asking for trouble. I should have been more prepared for possible problems and this has got me thinking about the tricky issue of backing-up SharePoint. Before I go into the limitations and restrictions of backing up and restoring SharePoint I will share with you my unfortunate mishap on the bicycle made for two. With my wife seated behind me we started off quite well, if slightly wobbly, down the Tissington Trail. This bike with it large range of gears and small hard pointed saddle was very different to my beloved Chopper in the 70’s. Within ten minutes of leaving the Bike Hire Hut my troubles began. An unexpected ripping noise signalled the start of a small split in my jeans in a rather unfortunate place. Further ripping noises left me in a very embarrassing position with my underpants now clearly visible to all passing cyclists and startled walkers. At least many of them smiled and only a few rude children pointed. I was not prepared for this unplanned exposure and without even a coat to cover my modesty it was left to my daughter to cycle back three miles and purchase a very expensive pair of tight fitting of black cycle shorts. Half an hour later and I was fully covered and everything was back to normal until the chain snapped seven miles from the bicycle hut.. Next time I will be more prepared and plan better for every possible eventuality. Disaster can strike in SharePoint as well as on the front of a tandem. There are several ways of backing up MOSS or WSS and each of these protects a different part of your portal. These backup types are as follows; 1. SQL Database Backup (Using an application like Symantec Backup Exec) 2. SharePoint Backup Agents (Using an application like SharePoint Agent for Backup Exec) 3. Basic SharePoint Backup (from SharePoint Central Administration) 4. SharePoint Designer Backup (from the Site – Administration menu) 5. Regularly Saving Sites as Site Templates (including content) 6. SharePoint Recycle Bins For a real ‘belts and braces’ approach it is probably best to use all of the six above. Why all of the six? Because each of them allows you to restore different sections. 1. SQL Backup A full SharePoint database backup is the approach that many take often using the popular Symantec Backup Exec and this is great for doing complete restores. So in a disaster when your server totally fails this is ideal, but for minor troubles it is a bit over the top. It would be similar to having to rebuild the whole tandem just because the chain had snapped or having to replace a cyclist because he had a rip in his jeans (although my wife might have thought this was a good idea). 2. SharePoint Agent The SharePoint Agent allows the Backup Administrators to backup and restore at the Item level. So if Betty from Shipping manages to delete the all the UK Shipping addresses they can be restored fairly quickly by the Backup Administrator (usually the busy IT Department). This is similar to the nice Bicycle Repair man who fixed our chain, but had to leave his shop unattended for half an hour to do so. 3. Central Administration This backup is a feature in WSS 3.0. You can specify the items that you'd like to back up or restore. However, as part of a farm backup, this can back up the configuration database and the Central Administration content database, but will not be able to restore them. Yes, this is a serious limitation. Perhaps the most annoying part of this backup type is the fact that it can’t be scheduled. The main use of this backup is when you are about to perform a major task on SharePoint. It is similar to checking the state of the bike before starting a long journey. 4. SharePoint Designer A very useful tool that has the added feature of being able to backup and restore sites. This is a must whenever you are using SharePoint Designer to make changes to sites. It is so easy to make a change that will prevent users accessing the site but a couple of minutes spent backing-up first means that you can restore it in minutes if things do go wrong. This tool has saved me and other Officetalk Consultants from angry End Users on more than one occasion. To receive an introduction course on the many features of SharePoint Designer you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. 5. Save As Site template If you are a SharePoint Site Administrator and you don’t trust the backups that your IT Department say they are taking then you can perform your own backups. All you need is to go ‘Site Settings – Save Site As Template’ and tick ‘Include Content’. Very powerful and will keep most of the settings. Limitations here include a limit of 500MB (although there are work rounds for this from the command prompt) and that some webpart settings are not saved. It can still save a lot of heartache. 6. Recycle Bin Simple yet one of the best improvements in WSS 3.0. The Site Recycle Bin allows users to recover their deleted files for up to 15 days. They can restore them themselves although most will still call the Helpdesk first. Administrators can change the number of days these are stored for or even turn the Recycle option off. Turning it off though is like the tandem hire people not giving us a puncture repair kit. After reading all this you are probably even more confused about how to backup and restore SharePoint. The real answer is probably to invest in a third party solution that allows full backup and restore of every part of SharePoint from the full databases to the individual sites, lists and items. Officetalk recommend AvePoints awarding winning DocAve software. http://www.office-talk.com/pages/avepoint.html DocAve offers continual real-time backup of all parts of SharePoint and because it runs on an internet browser any user with the right permissions can easily restore items or lists instantly or roll them back without the need to hassle the IT Department. This software is straight forward to install and a trial period of 14 days allows you to try before you buy. So it is worth trying out. It is a shame my expensive cycling shorts didn’t come with a free 14 day trial period. I could have watched two Villa games for the price of those shorts.
at 12:54 pm