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SharePoint Portal Server's standby recovery feature

Learn about the prerequisites for using SharePoint Portal Server's standby server option and how the recovery feature works.

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SharePoint Portal Server is a powerful tool for organizing information across the enterprise. Among other things, it allows you to create taxonomies of all corporate documents, search company files, and provides centralized administration of all portal and team sites in your organization.

Because SharePoint Portal Server covers so much territory, and is central to collaborative efforts across the enterprise, Microsoft has provisioned for a standby server in case of disaster or major hardware failure. The standby server is a duplicate of the main server, including the firmware and software updates.

To use the standby feature you need four things:

  1. A server that is identical to the main server. This should be completely set up, then shut down and kept in a safe place until it is needed to replace the production server.

  2. The Windows Backup Set, which is the System State data from the production server, the Windows boot partition and the Windows System partition. The standby server must be identical, because it needs to run the System State data from the production system.

  3. Dynamic backups of all mission-critical data on the production server that is not part of the Sharepoint Portal Server backup. This includes data like Web pages that would be hard to recreate manually.

  4. SharePoint Portal Server database backups. Microsoft recommends backing up the Sharepoint Portal Server daily.

The best way to use a standby backup server is with the hard drives from the production machine. If the drives are not damaged, they can be transferred to the standby system, which simplifies and speeds recovery.

If the disk drives are damaged or unavailable, you have to restore from the backups, starting with the Windows Backup Set, proceeding through the dynamic data, running SharePoint setup, applying any patches or hotfixes, and finally restoring the SharePoint Portal Server database.

You can learn more about SharePoint Portal Server backup and recovery in the Microsoft paper, Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2001 Disaster Recovery.

About the author: Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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