Programming with the Windows SharePoint Services Backup/Restore Object Model


This post describes the architecture of the backup and restore object model in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and provides some advice about how to program against it. Your backup application can be an independent application or an extension of the stsadm.exe command-line tool . For more information about how to extend stsadm, see How to: Extend the STSADM Utility.

Note: All classes in this post are in the Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.Backup namespace unless specified otherwise.

The Backup and Restore Object Model

At the top of the object model is the SPBackupRestoreConsole class. (See ①, in Figure 1.) It provides an umbrella operations manager responsible for queuing backup and restore jobs, starting jobs, and persisting a history of jobs in the form of xml files. An object of this class is "just underneath the surface" of the UI of a backup application. Its members are mainly static methods and properties that provide hooks for the UI of the backup application. Both the Central Administration application and the stsadm.exe command-line tool use these hooks.

There is always just one object of this class and it is created the first time one of its members is called. It remains in memory until the next time Internet Information Server (IIS) is reset; however, its memory footprint is small.

Figure 1: The primary objects in the backup/restore hierarchy.

Primary Objects in WSS Backup Restore OM 


Each particular backup or restore operation is represented by an object of the class SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject that is created by the SPBackupRestoreConsole.CreateBackupRestore method of the console object. (See ②, in Figure 1, the queued backup and restore operations.) The properties of one of these lightweight objects hold information about the operation such as whether it is a backup or a restore, the location of the backup files, the backup or restore method, the current stage of the operation, and the tree of content components that his being backed up or restored. These objects also have an SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject.Id property of type System.Guid that serves as a handle for the object that can be passed to the methods of SPBackupRestoreConsole. For example, SPBackupRestoreConsole.Run is passed the ID of the operation (that is; the SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject object) that the console is to run next. Finally, each SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject has a SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject.Settings property that holds a persisting object that contains a reusable pattern of backup (or restore) settings. This object also identifies the content component that the operation is to back up or restore. The settings objects are discussed in more detail near the end of this section.

While the SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject objects represent operations, the content components themselves are represented by SPBackupRestoreObject objects. (See ③, in Figure 1.) These objects can be nested with the SPBackupRestoreObject.Children property. Therefore, each one represents a tree of one or more content components. For example, a Web application would be represented by a by SPBackupRestoreObject object that would have each of the Web application's content databases as child SPBackupRestoreObject objects. The tree of components that are the subject a particular backup or restore operation is internally linked to the SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject object that represents the operation. You can get a reference to the topmost SPBackupRestoreObject object in the tree by passing the ID of the SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject object to the SPBackupRestoreConsole.GetRoot method.

A SPBackupRestoreObject object is a container for two critical types of objects:

· In its SPBackupRestoreObject.Information property the SPBackupRestoreObject object holds either a SPBackupInformation or a SPRestoreInformation object. These kinds of objects hold information about how to back up or restore a particular component and methods that can be called internally by SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject and SPBackupRestoreObject as part of an operation. More specifically, these classes hold methods and properties whose implementation should never change regardless of what kind of content component is being represented. Hence, they are sealed and deriving a new class from their parent, SPBackupRestoreInformation, is not supported.

· In its SPBackupRestoreObject.IBackupRestore property the SPBackupRestoreObject object holds an object that implements the IBackupRestore interface (and might also inherit from Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPPersistedObject). (See ④, in Figure 1.) Implementation of the latter interface turns an object into something that can potentially be backed up and restored. Like an SPBackupRestoreInformation object, an IBackupRestore object contains members that provide information and methods needed for backups and restorations. But the members of IBackupRestore must be given different implementations depending on the kind of content component that is being represented. Most importantly, the implementation includes event handlers for an operation's events, such as IBackupRestore.OnBackup and IBackupRestore.OnRestore.

Besides acting as a container, SPBackupRestoreObject is a helper class that provides easier interaction between the operation objects (SPBackupRestoreConsoleObject), on the one hand, and the component information objects (SPBackupRestoreInformation and IBackupRestore), on the other.

The final major classes are SPBackupSettings and SPRestoreSettings. An object of one of these two types is passed to the SPBackupRestoreConsole.CreateBackupRestore method when an operation is created. (See ⑤, in Figure 1.) Each of these objects holds settings for use in operations; most importantly, they identify, in their SPBackupRestoreSettings.IndividualItem property, the content component that is the subject of the backup or restore operation. (See ⑥, in Figure 1.)

Programming Advice

Ways of Customization

Most of the critical classes in the backup restore object model are sealed (NotInheritable in Visual Basic). Moreover, although the following classes are not sealed, deriving from them is not supported. In each case, you must use the existing derived classes:

· SPBackupRestoreInformation. (Existing derived classes: SPBackupInformation and SPRestoreInformation.)

· SPBackupRestoreSettings. (Existing derived classes: SPBackupSettings and SPRestoreSettings.)

Accordingly, there are just two primary points of customization:

· You can create your own high level application, and UI, that will use the static methods of the operations console — an SPBackupRestoreConsole object — to manage and run backup and restore jobs. For more information about how to do this see How to: Programmatically Back Up Content and How to: Programmatically Restore Content.

· You can create a class that implements the IBackupRestore interface and might or might not also derive the Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPPersistedObject class. For more information about how to create a custom content class, see How to: Create a Content Class That Can Be Backed Up and Restored.


Code that backs up content must run in the user context of a farm administrator. Code that restores must run in the context of a user who is both a farm administrator and an administrator on all the front-end servers. The user should also have read and write permissions for the backup location.

Failure Logging

If a backup or restore operation fails, details about the failure will be logged in spbackup.log or sprestore.log in the backup location.

Backups and Restores of Site Collections

Aside from custom content types that you create by implementing IBackupRestore, the smallest content object that you can back up and restore with the classes in the Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.Backup namespace is a content database. To programmatically backup or restore individual site collections, use Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPSiteCollection.Backup(System.String,System.String,System.Boolean) and Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPSiteCollection.Restore(System.String,System.String,System.Boolean) . For more information on backing up and restoring site collections, see How to: Programmatically Backup and Restore a Single Site Collection.