Remote Blob Storage for SharePoint 2010 with Stepwise – Part 2 Backup and Restore

You can’t have a storage conversation about SharePoint 2010, Remote Blob Storage, and Stepwise without quickly getting into Backup and Restore options.

Remote Blob Storage with Stepwise externalises documents from a SharePoint content database to external storage systems – see Part 1 of this blog series for additional information. This then presents two separate sets of data that need to be backed up, the SQL Server content database(s) and the storage devices themselves (such as a file share). Backup and restore operations need to synchronise their schedule to ensure they are capturing all data.

How Much Data Can I Afford To Lose?

This is the classic backup/restore question. It is entirely possible with today’s technology to get very close to perfect data integrity – given enough budget! Enterprise storage systems such as EMC Data Domain offer extremely high performing data backup solutions. It really depends on how much you want to spend to achieve your goals.

I recently spoke with a Courier Company about what the impact would be if they lost their system for a day, how much would it cost them? They keep electronic run-sheets of their jobs, obtain signatures for completed work, and have GPS systems on hand-held devices. They could recreate their entire day – it would take time, but it could be done. The cost to them for being offline for a day would be small.

Switch over to a legal services company who charges in 10-minute increments. They have multiple sites world-wide, across time-zones, and are heavily reliant on their IT systems for both case management and time management. Being offline for a day for this company would cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

Often it is situations like these that should govern your backup and restore designs. It must be matched to the business requirements and of course what is affordable!

Backing Up SharePoint when Using Stepwise

When documents are externalised (stored outside the SQL content database) via Stepwise they are stored on a filesystem, and the storage location is maintained within the Stepwise administration database. The SharePoint database is also updated to store metadata about the document as well as tracking information about the document’s usage status (i.e. is it still active, is it in the recycle bin, has it been deleted entirely).

In order to ensure you maintain all the components of a SharePoint + Stepwise installation, you can use this procedure:

1. Snapshot the SQL Server content database(s) and the Stepwise administration database

2. Backup the databases

3. Remove the snapshots

4. Backup the file share(s)

Let’s examine this in more detail.

Snapshotting the Databases

Snapshotting the databases is a technique available in most commercial backup software solutions. Snapshotting creates a read-ony, static view of a SQL Server database and ensures the data is not being updated while the backup is being taken. SharePoint and Stepwise can still access the primary, writable databases, but the snapshot ensures nothing happens during the backup process.

Backup the Databases

The databases contain not only the metadata for the documents in SharePoint, but they also contain the physical paths to the documents on the file system(s) configured for use by Stepwise. By backing up the databases first, you ensure that the links to the documents exist and are valid at the time the backup is taken.

Remove the Snapshots

After the backup has been completed successfully, the snapshots are no longer required. This step is usually done automatically by the backup software or SQL Server backup processes and does not need to be manually completed.

Backup the Filesystem(s)

The filesystems contain the physical files that have been stored by Stepwise on behalf of SharePoint. These need to be backed up as part of your backup/restore solution to ensure you get both your SharePoint data and the externalised files.

Restoring Stepwise

The restore steps are similar, but depend on what data you have lost. You can read more on this in the final piece of the puzzle: disaster recovery scenarios in part 3 of this series.



4 Responses to “Remote Blob Storage for SharePoint 2010 with Stepwise – Part 2 Backup and Restore”

  1. Remote Blob Storage for SharePoint 2010 with Stepwise – Part 3 Disaster Recovery « Back in Hack Says:

    […] Back in Hack I am not paranoid. But I’m working on it. « Remote Blob Storage for SharePoint 2010 with Stepwise – Part 2 Backup and Restore […]

  2. Remote Blob Storage for SharePoint 2010 with Stepwise – Part 1 « Back in Hack Says:

    […] working on it. « HOWTO Stop or Cancel a Running Timer Job in SharePoint 2010 Remote Blob Storage for SharePoint 2010 with Stepwise – Part 2 Backup and Restore […]

  3. Backing up SharePoint 2010 and Remote Blob Storage with Data Protection Manager 2012 « Back in Hack Says:

    […] the protection groups to make sure their backups were consistent. I’ve already blogged about backup with Stepwise previously, but the fundamental principle is to ensure you backup your database first, then your […]

  4. Software boundaries and limits for SharePoint 2013 – Content database limits | Back in Hack Says:

    […] You can include search databases in this list as well if you have them, and if they are worthwhile to back up. I have a complete article on backup/restore for Remote Blob Storage using Stepwise. […]

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