What is the first rule for administrators of a SharePoint environment?
Always backup your implementation. With no backup and recovery plan, you are setting yourself up for failure.
You might be asking yourself, “Do I really need to back up my entire SharePoint environment when the server admin next to me does it every day as part of his regular backup routine? And what if I am only responsible for the information in my department? Do I want to deal with IT every time I need to backup or recover a file or site?” I didn’t think so…
Truth is, backing up SharePoint is no longer about application servers, configuration databases and IIS, it’s about the content and ensuring you can get access to it fast.
Backup & Recovery of SharePoint — Yesterday’s Requirements
I could spend this entire article talking about the backup and recovery tools available for a SharePoint environment out of the box. I could also spend a lot of time discussing the various third-party vendor products that do the same thing, sometimes more. But here’s the reality…you don’t really need most of these tools anymore.
How many of you have Server Administrators who do daily snapshots of your servers and databases, and regular full backups weekly or monthly using software? How many of you have your environment on a virtual server? Have high availability systems standing by ready to take over if something happens to the database or app server? How many are using cloud storage to store backups?
The truth is, if something did happen to one of your SharePoint servers or to the entire SharePoint environment, it’s going to be pretty easy to recover that entire server (or servers) from your regular backups. Do you really need a separate, SharePoint specific, backup and recovery plan? Probably not.
Side Note: Backup and Recovery with SharePoint in Office 365
Backup and restore of SharePoint in the cloud is another story altogether. Take SharePoint via Office 365 as an example. Microsoft does offer some recovery options through support. It does offer disaster recovery (with up to a 12 hour time difference) and it will allow recovery of a deleted site within 7 days of the deletion (up to date within 24 hours of the deletion).
But keep in mind that you can’t take advantage of the processes and third party tools mentioned above because you don’t have access to the server (only Microsoft does). The same goes for most other hosted SharePoint environments — your options for backup and restore are limited. Part of the reason for this is that you need to install an agent on the front-end servers to interface with the backup software — something you can’t do in a hosted environment.
So if this is really true, and we don’t need to worry about having specific SharePoint-based tools to do backup and restore, then is backup for SharePoint a dead issue? Not really. Instead, the backup and restore discussion becomes even more relevant for SharePoint content itself.
Backup and Restore from the Department Perspective
If your department or division (or maybe you are an SMB) uses SharePoint as a primary document collaboration and information storage tool, then it’s really important to you to have some control over that environment from a backup and restore perspective, as well as an information architecture perspective.
It’s unlikely you will go out and spend money on software that needs to be installed on the SharePoint servers to help with backing up data, restoring content or moving things around because you aren’t typically the sole owner of that environment. Those decisions are made higher up and generally with IT in the lead. And typically, requests into IT to have work performed (like partial backups, site or item restores, or archiving of unused sites) will sit in line with a lot of other work IT is doing.
You need a solution that you can use within your department that’s simple, doesn’t require a server install (i.e. agents) and allows you to manage your own content without concern for what other departments are doing.
Accidentally Delete A Document? There’s a Backup for That
Here’s the big issue for SharePoint content today — recovering accidentally deleted files. It’s done daily. You delete something you think you no longer need or you accidentally delete a document or list item without realizing it. It happens.