Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to Ensure a Full Farm Recovery

SharePoint 2010 stores more configuration information in the content databases than SharePoint 2007, but you still need to be concerned with the following non-SharePoint components to ensure a successful farm recovery:

SharePoint Root

The \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web server Extensions\14 folder often holds any customizations that your developers have made to your SharePoint implementation. These can include custom graphics, style sheets, and site definitions, to name a few possible modifications. It is important to back up the SharePoint Root on at least one of your Web front-end servers to ensure that these customizations can be recovered. Because the SharePoint Root should be identical on all Web front-end servers, it is not necessary to back up each one separately – makes a lot more easier.

Inetpub folder

This is another location that can be used to store customizations such as graphics and custom Web Parts. You also want to ensure that you have a copy of the Web.config file, because this contains any safe control entries required by custom or third-party Web Parts. Each Web application has a corresponding Inetpub folder on your Web front-end servers, so back up all!

System Binaries

In the event of server failure, you need to recover it to the state it was in before the failure. This can be done either by reinstalling all the system files, patches, service packs, and upgrades that were installed on the server, or by restoring your system files from backup. Often, backup utilities offer a disaster recovery option designed to recover your system to the exact state before the failure.

IIS Settings

SharePoint relies on Web sites hosted by Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) to provide access to SharePoint information. It is therefore important that you have a backup of the IIS configurations for the SharePoint servers in the farm. You can do this by opening the IIS Management console from Administrative Tools on the Start menu, right-clicking the server object, selecting All Tasks >  Backup/Restore Configuration option.

To back up the IIS configuration information, use the AppCmd.exe command found in %WinDir%\System32\Inetsrv as shown here.

appcmd.exe add backup "Your Backup Name"

To restore that backup, run the command shown here.

appcmd.exe restore backup "Your Backup Name"

SSL Certificates

You should always keep a backup of your SSL certificates, including the private key. Although this can be retrieved from a system state operating system backup, you must restore the entire system state to access the certificate store that was backed up using Certificate Manager. A configuration backup should always include the use of a password so that the restore is portable and not restricted to the original Web server.

System State Data

System state data includes the following items, which can be backed up by most disaster-recovery software as part of a normal system backup.

  • Start-up files
  • Registry
  • COM+ class registration database
  • IIS configuration
  • Active Directory
  • SYSVOL folder
  • DNS
  • Certificate store

DNS Records

If your DNS server is hosted on a domain controller, the system state data will include the DNS information. If DNS is hosted on a member server or stand-alone server, however, you must back up the Zonename.dns file located at C:\Windows\System32\DNS.

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