Slinger's Thoughts

May 14, 2013

High Heels are not Hammers – How do you create backups

Filed under: Disaster Recovery, SharePoint — slingeronline @ 9:00 am

If you’ve been playing along, I’ve talked about what, when, where, and why you should create backups.  One you have a DR plan, that includes what you need to backup, how often, and where it is stored, with plenty of documentation, we can finally get down to what tools you should use to perform your backups.  (If you bought the tools first, and then planned your strategy around what the tools could or could not do, please throw away your DR plan and start over.)  There are a myriad of tools out there to backup and restore content in SharePoint specifically, as well as on your servers in general.  Keep this in mind though; just because a tool can be used in a certain way, that doesn’t always mean it should.  Don’t compromise your DR strategy because a tool doesn’t cover it. Find the tool to fit your needs, don’t change your needs to fit the tool. Look at the “toolkit” pictured below; What happens if you need a Phillip’s Head Screwdriver? You obviously don’t have the right tool for that.



So what tools should you use?  Well if you have planned out your DR strategy in great detail, and included specific items that you absolutely must create backups of, and what you can reasonably get away with not having backed up, the choice should become fairly obvious. Get the least expensive that meets all of your requirements.  Do you need all of your SPD workflows backed up? What about workflow history? Do need versions of your content backed up? Permissions?  Customizations?  There is a lot to consider.  Your environment may have some stuff in it that some backup tools don’t handle very well, or even at all.  If you decide that using the built in Central Administration tool is all you need, great.  I hope you don’t have any custom web.config files.  And you might find yourself installing all of your 3rd party features again after a disaster strikes.  It would probably be better to get a tool that covers those instances.  You may also want to give certain users the ability to restore their own content, depending on your environment.  It all depends on what your DR strategy is. These are just a few examples of the thousands of things that need to be taken into consideration.  Now that you have this information, it is probably a good idea to go back and look at your DR strategy again.  If you see any cases of a reference to a specific piece of software in your DR plan, you did something wrong.  Your DR plan should be as generic as possible.  Got that? Your DR policy needs to be “specifically generic.” Be specific about the environment and what needs to be backed up, but generic about the tools you use to get there.  Once you have everything in your DR strategy figured out, hand off deciding which software to buy to someone else if you can. (It’s the easiest way to prevent bias.)  To get you started, here are some of the most popular 3rd party disaster recovery tools available, in no particular order. 

Each one has strengths and weaknesses. Make sure that what you do get, if your DR policy needs a 3rd party tool, meets all of your requirements. With whatever you do choose, test it to make sure meets your requirements.  If you find after testing that you are running into some roadblocks, read this


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