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I apologize if this is already answered somewhere but I couldn't find it.

I'm a bit of a newbie here; I'm wondering if it's possible to simply do a full-system backup instead of having to do any kind of specialized SP/SQL backups. Is the only reason most people don't seem to do that the space that would be required?

If space isn't an issue, could you do a full system backup then have an incremental backup run every night or so and still be able to recover from disaster? Or would SharePoint/SQL/IIS/etc somehow be exempt from those backups?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Backup strategy depends on

  • Environment
  • Time to recover backup in case of disaster
  • Resources one can afford
  • What you want to recover or what's most important for you to recover

If its a development environment with just single box with everything on it then people prefer to virtualize it and keep a copy of VHD, as it takes couple of minutes to restore a full working backup copy.

If it's a production environment then best thing would be to follow best practices as provided by Microsoft,

Plan for backup and recovery in SharePoint Server 2010

The following table lists components of a SharePoint environment that you might decide to protect, and the tools that can be used to back up and recover each component.

enter image description here

One thing people always forget is that SharePoint is a combination of technologies and simply backing up through CA or SQL will not give them advantage to fully recover whole environment back to how it was before disaster. Best example would be if you got custom site definitions deployed to 14 hive folder or a custom list feature which was installed directly (like you didn't deployed a solution but put feature straight into hive folder) to hive folder will not be backed up unless you manually back them up.

You might also need to backup GAC folder if custom assemblies have been deployed to it, but it totally depends on backup strategy.

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Wow, thank you for that! I noticed that the chart you included isn't the full chart on that page - did you intentionally leave out the bottom part that lists the "Yes"s in the File System Backup column? Also, forgive my newbie-ness, but what is CA? – Andrew Talbot May 1 '13 at 19:09
nope it's not, but you can find it at the link given above as it's too big to be here, CA stands for Central Administration site :) – Muhammad Raja May 1 '13 at 19:13
Thank you for your fast response! From what you've suggested I'm considering the SQL backup and the File System backup - would the latter include the GAC folder? – Andrew Talbot May 1 '13 at 19:23
Come in chat, I will answer you there, – Muhammad Raja May 1 '13 at 19:24
I'm sorry; I don't have 20 reputation so I cannot speak in the chat. – Andrew Talbot May 1 '13 at 20:42

Yes it would be possible, but it is not a reasonable approach in most cases since things change in different frequencies and most environments span multiple servers.

It is important to understand where things are stored, what is on each server, and what is stored in the database. For the most part the servers themselves do not change frequently as all content and most configuration resides in the databases. This is one reason why many focus on the database backups. The database backups though do not include any of the bits, or server deployed solutions so you do need the server backups as well.

If you had a single server farm, and you did a full system backup you would have a complete backup that could be restored. In most cases though that environment would be much bigger than you would want to restore in one job/process.

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