Back up a SharePoint farm to Azure with MABS

You back up a SharePoint farm to Microsoft Azure by using Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) in much the same way that you back up other data sources. Azure Backup provides flexibility in the backup schedule to create daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly backup points and gives you retention policy options for various backup points. It also provides the capability to store local disk copies for quick recovery-time objectives (RTO) and to store copies to Azure for economical, long-term retention.

Azure Backup for DPM supports the following scenarios:

Workload Version SharePoint deployment Protection and recovery
SharePoint SharePoint 2016, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 3.0 SharePoint deployed as a physical server or Hyper-V/VMware virtual machine
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SQL AlwaysOn
Protect SharePoint Farm recovery options: Recovery farm, database, and file or list item from disk recovery points. Farm and database recovery from Azure recovery points.

Before you start

There are a few things you need to confirm before you back up a SharePoint farm to Azure.

Prerequisites

Before you proceed, make sure that you have installed and prepared the Azure Backup Server to protect workloads.

Protection agent

The Azure Backup agent must be installed on the server that's running SharePoint, the servers that are running SQL Server, and all other servers that are part of the SharePoint farm. For more information about how to set up the protection agent, see Setup Protection Agent. The one exception is that you install the agent only on a single web front end (WFE) server. Azure Backup Server needs the agent on one WFE server only to serve as the entry point for protection.

SharePoint farm

For every 10 million items in the farm, there must be at least 2 GB of space on the volume where the MABS folder is located. This space is required for catalog generation. For MABS to recover specific items (site collections, sites, lists, document libraries, folders, individual documents, and list items), catalog generation creates a list of the URLs that are contained within each content database. You can view the list of URLs in the recoverable item pane in the Recovery task area of MABS Administrator Console.

SQL Server

Azure Backup Server runs as a LocalSystem account. To back up SQL Server databases, MABS needs sysadmin privileges on that account for the server that's running SQL Server. Set NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM to sysadmin on the server that's running SQL Server before you back it up.

If the SharePoint farm has SQL Server databases that are configured with SQL Server aliases, install the SQL Server client components on the front-end Web server that MABS will protect.

SharePoint Server

While performance depends on many factors such as size of SharePoint farm, as general guidance one MABS can protect a 25-TB SharePoint farm.

What's not supported

  • MABS that protects a SharePoint farm does not protect search indexes or application service databases. You will need to configure the protection of these databases separately.
  • MABS does not provide backup of SharePoint SQL Server databases that are hosted on scale-out file server (SOFS) shares.

Configure SharePoint protection

Before you can use MABS to protect SharePoint, you must configure the SharePoint VSS Writer service (WSS Writer service) by using ConfigureSharePoint.exe.

You can find ConfigureSharePoint.exe in the [MABS Installation Path]\bin folder on the front-end web server. This tool provides the protection agent with the credentials for the SharePoint farm. You run it on a single WFE server. If you have multiple WFE servers, select just one when you configure a protection group.

To configure the SharePoint VSS Writer service

  1. On the WFE server, at a command prompt, go to [MABS installation location]\bin\
  2. Enter ConfigureSharePoint -EnableSharePointProtection.
  3. Enter the farm administrator credentials. This account should be a member of the local Administrator group on the WFE server. If the farm administrator isn’t a local admin grant the following permissions on the WFE server:
    • Grant the WSS_Admin_WPG group full control to the DPM folder (%Program Files%\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM).
    • Grant the WSS_Admin_WPG group read access to the DPM Registry key (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft Data Protection Manager).

Note

You’ll need to rerun ConfigureSharePoint.exe whenever there’s a change in the SharePoint farm administrator credentials.

Back up a SharePoint farm by using MABS

After you have configured MABS and the SharePoint farm as explained previously, SharePoint can be protected by MABS.

To protect a SharePoint farm

  1. From the Protection tab of the MABS Administrator Console, click New. New Protection Tab

  2. On the Select Protection Group Type page of the Create New Protection Group wizard, select Servers, and then click Next.

    Select Protection Group type

  3. On the Select Group Members screen, select the check box for the SharePoint server you want to protect and click Next.

    Select group members

    Note

    With the protection agent installed, you can see the server in the wizard. MABS also shows its structure. Because you ran ConfigureSharePoint.exe, MABS communicates with the SharePoint VSS Writer service and its corresponding SQL Server databases and recognizes the SharePoint farm structure, the associated content databases, and any corresponding items.

  4. On the Select Data Protection Method page, enter the name of the Protection Group, and select your preferred protection methods. Click Next.

    Select data protection method

    Note

    The disk protection method helps to meet short recovery-time objectives.

  5. On the Specify Short-Term Goals page, select your preferred Retention range and identify when you want backups to occur.

    Specify short-term goals

    Note

    Because recovery is most often required for data that's less than five days old, we selected a retention range of five days on disk and ensured that the backup happens during non-production hours, for this example.

  6. Review the storage pool disk space allocated for the protection group, and click then Next.

  7. For every protection group, MABS allocates disk space to store and manage replicas. At this point, MABS must create a copy of the selected data. Select how and when you want the replica created, and then click Next.

    Choose replica creation method

    Note

    To make sure that network traffic is not effected, select a time outside production hours.

  8. MABS ensures data integrity by performing consistency checks on the replica. There are two available options. You can define a schedule to run consistency checks, or DPM can run consistency checks automatically on the replica whenever it becomes inconsistent. Select your preferred option, and then click Next.

    Consistency Check

  9. On the Specify Online Protection Data page, select the SharePoint farm that you want to protect, and then click Next.

    DPM SharePoint Protection1

  10. On the Specify Online Backup Schedule page, select your preferred schedule, and then click Next.

    Online_backup_schedule

    Note

    MABS provides a maximum of two daily backups to Azure from the then available latest disk backup point. Azure Backup can also control the amount of WAN bandwidth that can be used for backups in peak and off-peak hours by using Azure Backup Network Throttling.

  11. Depending on the backup schedule that you selected, on the Specify Online Retention Policy page, select the retention policy for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly backup points.

    Online_retention_policy

    Note

    MABS uses a grandfather-father-son retention scheme in which a different retention policy can be chosen for different backup points.

  12. Similar to disk, an initial reference point replica needs to be created in Azure. Select your preferred option to create an initial backup copy to Azure, and then click Next.

    Online_replica

  13. Review your selected settings on the Summary page, and then click Create Group. You will see a success message after the protection group has been created.

    Summary

Restore a SharePoint item from disk by using MABS

In the following example, the Recovering SharePoint item has been accidentally deleted and needs to be recovered. MABS SharePoint Protection4

  1. Open the DPM Administrator Console. All SharePoint farms that are protected by DPM are shown in the Protection tab.

    MABS SharePoint Protection3

  2. To begin to recover the item, select the Recovery tab.

    MABS SharePoint Protection5

  3. You can search SharePoint for Recovering SharePoint item by using a wildcard-based search within a recovery point range.

    MABS SharePoint Protection6

  4. Select the appropriate recovery point from the search results, right-click the item, and then select Recover.

  5. You can also browse through various recovery points and select a database or item to recover. Select Date > Recovery time, and then select the correct Database > SharePoint farm > Recovery point > Item.

    MABS SharePoint Protection7

  6. Right-click the item, and then select Recover to open the Recovery Wizard. Click Next.

    Review Recovery Selection

  7. Select the type of recovery that you want to perform, and then click Next.

    Recovery Type

    Note

    The selection of Recover to original in the example recovers the item to the original SharePoint site.

  8. Select the Recovery Process that you want to use.

    • Select Recover without using a recovery farm if the SharePoint farm has not changed and is the same as the recovery point that is being restored.

    • Select Recover using a recovery farm if the SharePoint farm has changed since the recovery point was created.

      Recovery Process

  9. Provide a staging SQL Server instance location to recover the database temporarily, and provide a staging file share on MABS and the server that's running SharePoint to recover the item.

    Staging Location1

    MABS attaches the content database that is hosting the SharePoint item to the temporary SQL Server instance. From the content database, it recovers the item and puts it on the staging file location on MABS. The recovered item that's on the staging location now needs to be exported to the staging location on the SharePoint farm.

    Staging Location2

  10. Select Specify recovery options, and apply security settings to the SharePoint farm or apply the security settings of the recovery point. Click Next.

    Recovery Options

    Note

    You can choose to throttle the network bandwidth usage. This minimizes impact to the production server during production hours.

  11. Review the summary information, and then click Recover to begin recovery of the file.

    Recovery summary

  12. Now select the Monitoring tab in the MABS Administrator Console to view the Status of the recovery.

    Recovery Status

    Note

    The file is now restored. You can refresh the SharePoint site to check the restored file.

Restore a SharePoint database from Azure by using DPM

  1. To recover a SharePoint content database, browse through various recovery points (as shown previously), and select the recovery point that you want to restore.

    MABS SharePoint Protection8

  2. Double-click the SharePoint recovery point to show the available SharePoint catalog information.

    Note

    Because the SharePoint farm is protected for long-term retention in Azure, no catalog information (metadata) is available on MABS. As a result, whenever a point-in-time SharePoint content database needs to be recovered, you need to catalog the SharePoint farm again.

  3. Click Re-catalog.

    MABS SharePoint Protection10

    The Cloud Recatalog status window opens.

    MABS SharePoint Protection11

    After cataloging is finished, the status changes to Success. Click Close.

    MABS SharePoint Protection12

  4. Click the SharePoint object shown in the MABS Recovery tab to get the content database structure. Right-click the item, and then click Recover.

    MABS SharePoint Protection13

  5. At this point, follow the recovery steps earlier in this article to recover a SharePoint content database from disk.

Next Steps

See the Back up Exchange server article. See the Back up SQL Server article.