System Center Data Protection Manager & Search

Microsoft® System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) is designed to help you take backups and restore data easily. For a Microsoft SharePoint® farm, DPM understands the objects within the farm and backs up the most relevant data with least amount of user intervention. DPM 2007 backs up:

1. Configuration database which stores most of the farm settings.

2. Administrator content database which stores the content of the central admin website.

3. Individual content DBs that store information about specific sites, their subsites, document libraries and documents.

Apart from this, DPM customers have highlighted a need to back up SharePoint Search service as well – both Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) Search and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 Search.

Backing up search is not a trivial problem as the Search service is continuously running background processes (like crawlers) on the SharePoint farms and other locations to index the files in the Search catalog. These programs keep updating the Search service data on continuous basis. Moreover, the search data is not restricted to one data source. It is spread across multiple data sources which may in turn be located across different servers. The following table shows the list of data sources used by the Search service:

Data Source Data Type WSS 3.0 Search MOSS 2007 Search
Search database SQL database X X
Index Files Files X X
Shared Service Provider (SSP) database SQL database   X

DPM uses the VSS’ snapshot technology that ensures consistency of data in a data source at a point in time. However, even this technology fails when data is being written across multiple data sources causing inconsistent backups resulting in corrupt data at the time of recoveries.

To ensure a good backup of SharePoint Search service, all background activity or processes updating the search data across its multiple data sources must be paused. The steps involved in backing up are:

1. Pause all the background activity and processes updating the search data sources

2. Create VSS snapshots of the data sources and send them to backup application (in this case DPM)

3. Resume the background activities and processes.

DPM has the infrastructure to enable such backups and ensure that the MOSS 2007 Search service is backed up in a consistent manner. The steps to backup and restore MOSS 2007 Search service using DPM 2007 can be found at WhitePaper: MOSS 2007 Search Backup for DPM 2007

Saurabh Bansal
Program Manager
Microsoft India.