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This guide is provided to assist system administrators in the configuration of SharePoint data protection & recovery solutions. It provides guidance on the key components and typical approaches to SharePoint backup and restore including key concepts and important reference resources as well as critical components and common tools.


Scholantis solutions are built on the SharePoint platform so the approach to protecting your sites is no different than that of a standard SharePoint environment. This guide is not intended to replace the numerous and high quality sources of information already available; instead it is intended as a summary of best practices, typical approaches, and as a reference of relevant resources.

Key references for SharePoint data protection:

Key Concepts

Microsoft’s data protection guidelines define three main levels of data protection which should be considered when planning your approach:

  • Content recovery is the recovering a document or list by using the Recycle Bin or versioning. Content recovery is a frequent and small-scale activity, and it can be performed by end users and site administrators.
  • Site recovery refers to using tools to recover from accidental deletion or data corruption of a site. Site recovery can be performed by site administrators.
  • Disaster recovery refers to performing recoveries (by using built-in tools or external tools or both) and possibly migrating a site, database, or farm to new hardware. Disaster recovery can be performed by farm administrators.

Determine Recovery Goals

To plan and design a Data Protection and Recovery infrastructure, an organization needs to determine the business motivations for protecting data. The following questions will help determine the overall requirements for your SharePoint environment:

  • Data loss tolerance - How much data can the organization afford to lose (measured in minutes, hours, or days)? This is equivalent to the recovery point objective (RPO), which is the acceptable amount of data loss that can be tolerated, measured in time.
  • Retention range - How long must protected data be kept available for recovery? This will be used to determine how long the protected data will be stored.
  • Speed of data recovery - How quickly must data be recovered after a problem occurs?

What to Backup

  • Databases are the primary items which require backup. All data and most of the SharePoint configuration information is stored in SQL databases. A complete list of the databases in your SharePoint farm is available in: Central Administration > Operations > Backup & Restore > Perform a Backup. 99% of all critical content will be stored in the Content Databases for each web application (typically prefixed sp__wa__<app name>). User Profile Service and Managed meta-data are also critical for a complete system recovery.
  • Customisations are normally stored on the SharePoint application server and are required to restore complete functionality. Scholantis customisations, certificates and tools are stored in: %System Root%\Program Files\Scholantis\
  • Servers and IIS configuration information including; IIS metabase, virtual directories (web.configs), install paths, custom assemblies, logs etc. While not all this data may be critical, having backups will reduce delay during a hardware fault or disaster recovery scenario.
  • Search Indexes can be backed up, they can be recreated so are commonly not backed up.

Common tools

The following tools are the most commonly deployed tools which provide backup and restore capability at a number of levels:

  • Many customers leverage a virtualization based backup solution to take a complete system snapshot using tools such as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, Veeam or Altaro. Ideally your solution is SQL or SharePoint aware to provide granular restore options to reduce the time needed for partial recovery.
  • SQL Server backup & restore can be used to backup all databases using maintenance schedules. The SQL backups are then typically copied or moved off server.
  • SharePoint Backup and Restore using Central Administration can be used back up a farm including search indexes. Both full and differential backups are available. See Microsoft documentation for a comparison of SQL backups. This is not approach customers typically utilize.
  • PowerShell utilities provide granular backup and restore options. Execution can be scheduled (using task scheduler) to backup web applications, site collections or specific sites using full, differential or partial backups. This approach is typically only used in ad-hoc situations.
  • Recycle Bin stores files, lists, and list items for 30 days after deletion (configurable). The site collection administrator recycle bin allows recovery of documents deleted by users.

Third Party Solutions

A number of Microsoft Partners provide alternative backup and restore products, these solutions typically address some of the shortfall in the Microsoft tools, such as item level recovery using database backups:

High Availability

While not strictly data protection the same solutions which provide high availability also provide an inherit level of data redundancy: