So, you may wonder, how do you recover items not supported by the built-in SharePoint tools? One option is to restore these databases from a backup of a fully stopped farm. Another option is to document all configuration settings so that you can re-create them. You could establish a form of mirroring or clustering for your SharePoint farm so that there is a duplicate. Not surprisingly, Microsoft recommends you buy SC DPM to recover an entire farm.
SC DPM's cost is fairly low. I believe that SC DPM is worth looking into because it does more than back up SharePoint; it can also handle Hyper-V child VMs, Exchange, SQL, files, and more. From a SharePoint perspective, SC DPM uses the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writers. It can perform incremental backups, schedule backups, back up files and folders with customizations, back up directly to tape, back up the configuration database and Central Administration database, and restore them as part of a farm recovery. SC DPM can recover the farm, a site, and even an individual item. (Note: You will need SC DPM SP1 to ensure that the search database and index are backed up.)
SC DPM is pretty capable, but I have a caveat: If you want to have site and item recovery, it is recommended that you configure a recovery farm, which requires server and admin resources. This is a second farm used only to restore data. On the plus side, it doesn't have to completely mimic the live farm and can be a single server installation or virtual server farm. During the restoration process for a site or item, SC DPM restores the databases to and extracts the site from the recovery farm, then imports it into the target production farm.
Options beyond SC DPM
Your SharePoint backup and recovery needs may go beyond what the built-in tools or SC DPM provide and support capabilities such as archiving and e-discovery. That means looking at third-party tools.
One tool I've had a chance to work with is Mimosa NearPoint, which provides continuous data capture, immediate recovery of items or sites (without the need for a recovery farm), e-discovery and retention management, and single-instance storage. Of course, all these features come at a price. That higher cost may be justified by the reduced risk and faster recovery, archiving, and e-discovery.
Where do your needs fall in relation to the tools available? What are you using to back up SharePoint in your environment? I'd like to know.
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This story, "Don't be caught without a SharePoint recovery solution," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments around SharePoint at InfoWorld.com.