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We are discussing backups for SharePoint 2013 and one idea has been floated is using snapshots of our VMs that host all of our parts of SharePoint 2013 (SQL, IIS, SharePoint Server, Windows Server).

I don't know enough to know the plusses or minuses of this plan and would love some input.

It sort of seems like the perfect solution without having to use a third party backup, but perhaps I am missing the pitfalls.

Thankss!

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There are a couple of useful articles that spell out the reasons not to use snapshots for SharePoint in production, and things you MUST do if you actually go ahead to do so:

Best practices for virtualization (SharePoint Server 2010) - I know that this says SharePoint 2010, but what it says about snapshots applies to 2013 as well.

Virtual Machine Snapshots for SharePoint - Discusses the only supported scenario for taking snapshots of a SharePoint farm.

Both of the above are well worth reading if you're considering using snapshots in production for SharePoint.

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A "Snapshot" is never a backup! You can use Snapshots to get back a short amount of time with the whole farm. For example if you patch SharePoint and want to be sure you can go back to where you started. Don't let Snapshots run too long or even forever. I have seen VM's break completely during the merge.

You can take regulary full VM-Backups with a 3rd party backup solution or maybe also with some export-functionality of VMware or Hyper-V. That's what i recommend customer's as a DesasterRecovery backup. As i am not a virtualization-admin, i cannot guide you here for the exact steps nessecary.

If you take additional Database Backups with SQL-Server onboard features, you can even get back granular content. Will need a little more SQL&SharePoint knowledge than with 3rd party tools.

  • You shouldn't be recommending 3rd party online backups/online exports as outside of a single SharePoint + SQL Server (all-in-one install), they're not supported by Microsoft. – Trevor Seward Feb 16 '17 at 15:36
  • @TrevorSeward That's interesting. Never heard of that. Do you have a reference for more reading? – MHeld Feb 17 '17 at 7:58
  • See the post marked as an answer in this thread. – Trevor Seward Feb 17 '17 at 20:32

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