Back up a farm in SharePoint Server 2010


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-11-15

This topic describes how to back up a whole server farm.

Procedures in this article:

For information about which tool to use for backups, see Plan for backup and recovery in SharePoint Server 2010.

We recommend that you regularly back up the complete farm by backing up both the configuration and content. Regularly backing up the farm reduces the possibility of data losses that might occur from hardware failures, power outages, or other problems. It is a simple process and helps to ensure that all the farm data and configurations are available for recovery, if that is required.

Consider the following when you prepare to back up a farm:

  • Performing a backup does not affect the state of the farm. However, it does require resources and might slightly affect farm performance when the backup is running. You can avoid performance issues by backing up the farm during hours when farm use is lowest, such as outside office hours.

  • The farm backup process does not back up any certificates that you used to form trust relationships. Endure that you have copies of these certificates before you back up the farm. You must re-establish these trust relationships after restoring the farm.

  • Backing up the farm backs up the configuration and Central Administration content databases, but these cannot be restored using Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 tools. For more information about backing up and restoring all the farm databases, see Move all databases (SharePoint Server 2010).

  • When you back up a farm that contains a Web application that is configured to use forms-based authentication, you must also use a file backup system to protect the Web.config files because the Web.config files have been updated manually to register the membership and role providers, and manual changes to the Web.config files are not backed up. Similarly, Web.config files are not restored when you restore a Web application. After recovery, you must update the Web.config files and redeploy the providers. For more information, see Plan authentication methods (SharePoint Server 2010) and Configure claims authentication (SharePoint Server 2010).

  • SharePoint Server 2010 backup backs up the Business Data Connectivity service external content type definitions but does not back up the data source itself. To protect the data, you should back up the data source when you back up the Business Data Connectivity service or the farm.

    If you restore the Business Data Connectivity service or the farm and then restore the data service to a different location, you must change the location information in the external content type definition. If you do not, the Business Data Connectivity service might not be able to locate the data source.

  • SharePoint Server 2010 backup backs up remote Binary Large Object (BLOB) stores but only if you are using the FILESTREAM remote BLOB store provider to put data in remote BLOB stores.

    If you are using another provider, you must manually back up the remote BLOB stores.

  • If you are using SQL Server with Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), and you are backing up your environment by using either SharePoint tools or SQL Server tools, the TDE encryption key in not backed up or restored. You must back up the key manually. When restoring, you must manually restore the key before restoring the data. For more information, see Understanding Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) (

Before you begin, you must create a folder on the local computer or the network in which to store the backups. For better performance, we recommend that you back up to the local computer and then move the backup files to a network folder. For more information about how to create a backup folder, see Prepare to back up and recover (SharePoint Server 2010).

You can use Windows PowerShell to back up the farm manually or as part of a script that can be run at scheduled intervals.

To back up a farm by using Windows PowerShell
  1. Verify that you meet the following minimum requirements: See Add-SPShellAdmin.

  2. On the Start menu, click All Programs.

  3. Click Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products.

  4. Click SharePoint 2010 Management Shell.

  5. At the Windows PowerShell command prompt, type the following command:

    Backup-SPFarm -Directory <BackupFolder> -BackupMethod {Full | Differential} [-Verbose]

    Where <BackUpFolder> is the path of a folder on the local computer or the network in which you want to store the backups.

    If you are backing up the farm for the first time, you must use the Full option. You must perform a full backup before you can perform a differential backup.

For more information, see Backup-SPFarm.

We recommend that you use Windows PowerShell when performing command-line administrative tasks. The Stsadm command-line tool has been deprecated, but is included to support compatibility with previous product versions.

You can use Central Administration to back up the farm.

To back up a farm by using Central Administration
  1. Verify that the user account that is performing this procedure is a member of the Farm Administrators group.

  2. In Central Administration, on the Home page, in the Backup and Restore section, click Perform a backup.

  3. On the Perform a Backup — Step 1 of 2: Select Component to Back Up page, select the farm from the list of components, and then click Next.

  4. On the Start Backup — Step 2 of 2: Select Backup Options page, in the Backup Type section, select either Full or Differential.

    If you are backing up the farm for the first time, you must use the Full option. You must perform a full backup before you can perform a differential backup.
  5. In the Back Up Only Configuration Settings section, click Back up content and configuration settings.

  6. In the Backup File Location section, type the UNC path of the backup folder, and then click Start Backup.

  7. You can view the general status of all backup jobs at the top of the Backup and Restore Status page in the Readiness section. You can view the status for the current backup job in the lower part of the page in the Backup section. The status page updates every 30 seconds automatically. You can manually update the status details by clicking Refresh. Backup and recovery are Timer service jobs. Therefore, it may take several seconds for the backup to start.

    If you receive any errors, you can review them in the Failure Message column of the Backup and Restore Job Status page. You can also find more details in the Spbackup.log file at the UNC path that you specified in step 6.

If you want to back up the complete farm, you must use either Windows PowerShell or Central Administration. You cannot back up the complete farm by using the SQL Server tools because you cannot use the tools to back up the farm’s configuration. However, you can back up all the databases that are associated with the farm. The databases that are associated with the farm are determined by the services and features that you have installed on the farm.

To back up the databases associated with a farm by using SQL Server tools
  1. To use SQL Server tools to back up SharePoint Server 2010 databases, the account that is used to back up the databases must be a member of the SQL Server db_backupoperator fixed database role on the database server where each database is stored.

  2. Open SQL Server Management Studio and connect to the database server.

  3. In Object Explorer, expand Databases.

  4. Right-click the database that you want to back up, point to Tasks, and then click Back Up.

  5. In the Back Up Database dialog box, in the Source area, select the kind of backup that you want to perform from the Backup type list. For more information about which backup type to use, see Overview of Recovery Models (

  6. In the Backup component area, click Database.

  7. Either use the default name provided or specify a name for the backup set in the Name text box.

  8. Specify the expiration date for the backup set. This date determines how long, or when, the backup set can be overwritten by any later backups that have the same name. By default, the backup set is set to never expire (0 days).

  9. In the Destination area, specify where you want to store the backup.

  10. Click OK to back up the database.

  11. Repeat steps 1-10 for each farm database.