Choose what to protect (Windows SharePoint Services)

Applies To: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0


Topic Last Modified: 2012-02-03

Within a farm, there are many components that require protection:

  • Content stored in SQL Server databases

  • Content stored in external storage devices

  • The search service database and index

  • Configuration settings for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 that are stored in Internet Information Services (IIS) and the configuration database.

  • Customizations

  • Binary files for both the operating system and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

In this article:

  • Protecting content databases

  • Protecting content stored in external data sources

  • Protecting search

  • Protecting configuration settings

  • Protecting customizations

  • Protecting binary files

Protecting content databases

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 content is stored in Microsoft SQL Server databases. We recommend that you back up all content databases by using any of the following tools:

  • Windows SharePoint Services built-in tools

  • SQL Server tools

  • Third-party tools that are built on supported Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and SharePoint Products and Technologies, such as the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)


Windows SharePoint Services supports the use of multiple data files for content databases. Although the backup and recovery tools that are built into Windows SharePoint Services can back up and recover multiple data files if you overwrite to the same location that you backed up from, the tools cannot restore multiple data files to a different location. For this reason, we recommend that when you use multiple data files for a content database, you use SQL Server backup and recovery tools.

The tool you choose to back up your content databases determines the level at which you can restore objects from a database. For more information about choosing tools, see Plan for disaster recovery in Project Server 2007.

Protecting content stored in external data sources

An external storage API is available for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. The external storage API lets you store documents or files on an external storage application other than Microsoft SQL Server. This API also lets you upgrade existing Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 sites to point to an external storage application. The API is available in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 with SP1, and also in hotfix 937901: An external storage API is available for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 on the Microsoft Help and Support Web site (\&clcid=0x40). You cannot use the backup and recovery tools built in to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to back up data stored in external data sources, but you can use the Stsadm import and export operations. For more information about export and import, see:

Search content for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 is stored both in the search database and in the search index file. Because search data in the database and index must be synchronized, you should only back search up using backup and recovery tools built in to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 such as the Stsadm command-line tool, or Central Administration backup and recovery or tools based on the SharePoint Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), such as Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007. These tools synchronize the database backup with the search index file backup, and both can be restored together. For more information about these tools, see Choose backup and recovery tools (Windows SharePoint Services).

To back up search, you must perform a farm backup.

We do not recommend that you back up the search databases by using SQL Server tools. This is because the search indexes are not stored in SQL Server and cannot be synchronized with the search database after a database-only backup. If you must restore a search database backed up with SQL Server tools, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 must re-create the index and perform a full crawl of the content.

Protecting configuration settings

Configurations include Internet Information Services (IIS) configuration settings and configuration settings for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

Protecting and recovering IIS configuration settings

You can set IIS configurations in IIS Manager or on the SharePoint Central Administration Web site. IIS configurations are stored in the IIS metabase on each front-end Web server in your system.

IIS configurations include the following:

  • Application pool settings, including service accounts

  • HTTP compression settings

  • Time-out settings

  • Custom Internet Server Application Programming Interface (ISAPI) filters

  • Computer domain membership

  • Internet Protocol security (IPsec) settings

  • Network Load Balancing settings

  • Host header entries

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates

  • Dedicated IP address settings

In previous versions of SharePoint Products and Technologies, we recommended that you back up the IIS metabase. Conversely, for this version of SharePoint Products and Technologies, we recommend that you document all IIS configurations for each front-end Web server, if possible, by using a tool that provides Desired Configuration Monitoring (DCM).

Protecting and recovering the configuration database and the Central Administration content database

Configurations in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 are set in Central Administration and stored in the configuration database.


Although the configuration database and Central Administration content database can be backed up, restoring backups of the configuration database and Central Administration content database taken from a running farm by using the tools built in to SharePoint Products and Technologies or SQL Server is not supported.
This is because data in these databases may not be synchronized with data in other Office SharePoint Server 2007 or Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 databases. Therefore, the tools built in to SharePoint Products and Technologies do not recover these databases during a farm-level restore operation.
If this data is not synchronized, users might experience various random errors. For more information, see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 948725: Restoration of the configuration database is not supported in SharePoint Server 2007 and in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (

You can recover a farm, including the configuration database and Central Administration content database, in the following ways:

We strongly recommend that you document all configuration settings and all your customizations, so that you can correctly re-create the configuration and Central Administration content databases.

Configuration settings in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 that you should document include:

  • Application pool settings.

  • External service connection settings.

  • Alternate access mapping settings.

  • E-mail settings.

  • Recycle Bin settings and other Web application general settings.

  • A/V settings.

  • Usage analysis processing settings.

  • Diagnostic logging settings.

  • Content deployment settings.

  • Timer job settings.

  • HTML viewer settings.

  • Database names and locations.

  • Web application names and databases. Be sure to document the content database names associated with each Web application.

  • Activated features.

  • Default quota templates.

  • Blocked file types.

Protecting customizations

Customizations to SharePoint sites can include:

  • Master pages, page layouts and cascading style sheets. These objects are stored in the content database for a Web application.

  • Web Parts, site or list definitions, custom columns, new content types, custom fields, custom actions, coded workflows, or workflow activities and conditions.

  • Third-party solutions and their associated binary files and registry keys, such as IFilters.

  • Changes to standard XML files.

  • Custom site definitions (Webtemp.xml).

Protecting solution packages

We recommend that you use solution packages whenever possible to deploy site customizations. A solution is a container for one or more customizations. Solutions can contain features, Web Parts, security policy changes, and other files with a detailed guide to allow the automated deployment to the file system by the deployment mechanisms in SharePoint Products and Technologies. Solutions include IFilters. Features are portions of solutions that can be activated by the server administrator against the farm, a specific Web application, a specific site collection, or a specific Web site. For more information about solutions, see: Solutions Overview (\&clcid=0x40).

You can use solution packages to simplify the backup and recovery process. Back up each solution package, both onsite and offsite, and then, in the event of a disaster, redeploy the solution to the appropriate servers.

Protecting customizations that are not packaged as solutions

For systems in which customizations are not or cannot be packaged as solutions, backing up and restoring customizations is a more complex process. The following table lists the locations where customizations are often stored on front-end Web servers.

Location Description

%COMMONPROGRAMFILES% \Microsoft Shared\Web server extensions\12

Commonly updated files, custom assemblies, custom templates, custom site definitions. In particular, the Web.config file is often modified.


Location of IIS virtual directories.


Global assembly cache (GAC). The GAC is a protected operating system location where .NET Framework code assemblies are installed to provide full system access.

Consult with your development team or customization vendor to determine whether your customizations involve additional add-in software or files in other locations. We recommend that you back up these directories by using Windows Server 2003 Backup.

Protecting binary files

In the event that you need to restore a system, we recommend that you reinstall the operating system, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, and software updates. Keep copies of all the operating system, software, and software update media both onsite and offsite.

Download this book

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable books for Windows SharePoint Services.

See Also


Plan for backup and recovery (Windows SharePoint Services)
Protecting and restoring the farm (Windows SharePoint Services 3.0)