Successful SharePoint Backup and Recovery Requires RTO: Week 4
Boot Camp Week 4: Using Backups to Restore Targeted Content When SharePoint is Down!
It was a quiet morning. You just kicked off your SharePoint backup process and settled into a much needed first cup of coffee. Then it happens…the phone starts ringing off the hook. SharePoint is down! And judging from everyone’s frantic calls, you need to figure out what’s wrong NOW. Often, finding the cause of a SharePoint problem is reasonably straight forward, but returning to business as usual is not.
Defining Recovery Time Objectives
Just as with data loss discussed in my last boot camp blog, downtime has a maximum acceptable time limit for a business, called Recovery Time Objective (RTO). It is one of the most important performance metrics you should measure. It is a key indicator to the rest of the business that you are delivering a level of service that meets the needs, expectations, and agreed standards for the organization.
Many organizations do not have RTO targets for SharePoint. The RTO target is the maximum amount of time that recovery personnel have to return a full or partial SharePoint environment to a pre-determined state of operational readiness. If you don’t have RTO targets, you should establish them. Unsure where to start? View my webinar 7 Steps to Creating a Successful SharePoint Recovery Plan. RTO provides a target time against which you will measure recovery success. And this is when all those backups you or someone else has taken come into play.
Leveraging Backups for Recovery
Downtime events come in many forms, each with a different recovery path and recovery time. Each type of event can have a target RTO, providing you with a benchmark against which you can measure the performance of yourself or your team. Many downtime events will require using a backup to recover content: site corruption, lost documents, full hard drives, SQL server crash etc. The specific backup strategy used will determine how much data is lost, for whom and how long it will take to recover once you have the downtime event isolated and fixed. Consider benchmarking your performance against target recovery times by event because there is a wide variety of downtime events.
On-premises SharePoint is not alone in facing backup and recovery challenges. In Office 365, all service requests for restoring from a backup are routed through the customer portal. You identify the target 12-hour backup range, and Microsoft restores that backup sometime in the next 48 hours. Microsoft retains backups for 14 days plus the two-day turnaround service time. Unfortunately, the restore is for a full site collection and must occur on the same production URL as the current site collection.
So what happens to all the content changes in the multi-day waiting period along with changes since the target backup was taken? It is all lost. You or key stakeholders in the business need to decide which content from which users for which projects merit such a tradeoff. Who said being an IT administrator isn’t fun! For backup help in the cloud or on-premises, view our webinar: Backup and Recovery Strategies for SharePoint On-Premises or in the Cloud.
Having granular recovery capabilities for your environment could completely mitigate this scenario. Recovery time for the important piece of content could drop from two days to minutes, while data loss could be eliminated completely. Metalogix SharePoint Backup provides lightning-fast, total backup and restore for SharePoint, which allows you to restore targeted content for individuals or an entire farm restore. Download a free trial if you are researching options.
There are many alternatives available when deciding the least impactful recovery option for a given scenario. Establishing multiple RTOs to match different use cases is valuable. It provides a reasonable target recovery time, and a decision tree that will allow you and others to evaluate tradeoffs when deciding which course of action to take.
Even when another group takes and manages backup files, there are ways to achieve low impact recovery, such as granular file recovery without disrupting the process or backup solution in place. Contact us if you need help with a solution to do granular recovery of SQL or SharePoint backup files.
Until next time, define your RTOs and remember, recovery is a ‘When’ and not an ‘If’. Download our free trial of Metalogix SharePoint Backup to prepare for WHEN SharePoint goes down or see our other backup resources.
Paul LaPorte is an expert in business continuity, disaster recovery and security. He is Director of Product Marketing for Backup and Storage products at Metalogix, and previously served as Principle Strategist for Continuity Research, and as a senior executive of Evergreen Assurance, a pioneer in real-time disaster recovery for mission critical applications.