VSS Requestors and Windows SharePoint Services

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The Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) feature in Windows Server 2003/2008 can be used to create applications that back up and restore Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. The VSS provides an infrastructure that enables third-party storage management programs, business programs, and hardware providers to cooperate in creating and managing shadow copies. Solutions based on this infrastructure can use the shadow copies (or mirrored copies) to back up and restore one or more Windows SharePoint Services databases.

The VSS coordinates communication among Requestors (backup applications), Writers (Windows applications such as Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft SQL Server 2005), and Providers (system, software, or hardware components that create the shadow copies). To use the VSS feature to back up Windows SharePoint Services, the backup program must include a VSS Requestor that is aware of Windows SharePoint Services. Because the backup program that is provided with Windows Server has no such Requestor, organizations must use third-party backup applications.

To be compliant with Windows SharePoint Services, backup applications that are based on VSS must follow two basic requirements to ensure the integrity and recoverability of shadow copy backups. Customers should verify with their backup vendors that the backup application fulfills the compliance requirements for Windows SharePoint Services listed in this topic.

Following are the Windows SharePoint Services requirements that a shadow copy backup application must follow to ensure the integrity and recoverability of Windows SharePoint Services databases:

  • Windows SharePoint Services databases and search index files must be backed up exclusively through the WSS-VSS Writer.

  • The backup application must validate the integrity of the shadow copy backup set. Restore operations to original location must be done exclusively with the WSS-VSS Writer.


    Start the Windows SharePoint Services VSS Writer service and the Volume Shadow Copy service before a restoration; but shutdown any Web applications whose content is being restored. If the entire farm is being restored, shutdown Windows SharePoint Services and Internet Information Server (IIS).


Before executing a restoration, the following conditions must be met:

  • The following services must be started:

    • Windows SharePoint Services VSS Writer

    • Volume Shadow Copy

    • Windows SharePoint Services Tracing

  • The following services must be stopped:

    • Windows SharePoint Services Administration

    • Windows SharePoint Services Search

    • Windows SharePoint Services Timer

    • Any service associated with an enhanced service product, such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, installed on top of Windows SharePoint Services. For example, the SharePoint Server Search service of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

  • If the whole farm is being restored, Windows SharePoint Servicesand Internet Information Server (IIS) must be shutdown.

  • If only selected Web applications or other components are being restored, the Web applications must be shutdown and the components may not be in use during the restoration.