(Rating: 5 out of 5)
For server administrators, backup and restore processes are essential in production environments. This is obviously no different for SharePoint farms, but out-of-the-box (OOTB) features for backup and restore are certainly lacking in WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007. The Selective Restore Manager Pro from Metalogix is one such product that aims to fill the void left by Microsoft.
Selective Restore Manager (SRM) Pro enables farm admins to quite easily restore site collections, sites, libraries, lists, documents, items and any other SharePoint content you can think of without the use of a recovery farm. Although this may seem a little obvious, this product was only designed to restore your data. You will need to continue in your regularly scheduled and maintained SharePoint and SQL Server backups for this tool to be useful. This lightweight application can run from any client machine, and it only requires an equally small web service installed on the server to enable writing to remote SharePoint sites.
As mentioned previously, this is by far one of the lightest products you’ll ever use, especially considering its importance in your administrative toolbox. It clocks in at roughly 5MB, and it installs in less than 30 seconds. The base client application is all you need if you plan on installing it on a SharePoint WFE. But if you’re installing this on a remote machine, and you want write access to live SharePoint sites – then you’ll need to install the Metalogix SharePoint Extensions Web Service. Not to worry though, as it is bundled with the download, and it is just as easy of an install.
The application comes in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, and will auto-install the 64-bit version if you’re running on the right OS. By default, the installer will stick the application in the Program Files (x86) directory regardless of architecture, but it definitely does run in 64-bit mode.
I think the real beauty of this application is that you don’t have to run it on the server. But if you’re planning on writing to a live SharePoint site, then you’ll need to install the web service to the farm. But what if you’ve got 20 WFEs in the farm? No problem! You only need to install the web service on a single WFE, and it will globally deploy the solution throughout the farm.
SRM Pro is a front-end utility for connecting to backup files, databases and live SharePoint sites all from the same dashboard. When you add a connection, the settings are stored in various xml files in the users AppData directory on the local hard drive. I’ll be testing the application in Windows Server 2008, so my location can be seen below.
So the first thing that I need to do is start adding the appropriate connections for the examples that I’m going to test out. As you can see below, you’ll have the ability to connect to 3 different source types. You can connect directly to a SharePoint database on a live SQL Server, connect to SharePoint backup files on a file share or connect directly to a live SharePoint site.
The most popular connection for most users will probably be for SharePoint .bak files from a recent native SharePoint backup, which will be the focus of my testing. When you choose ‘Connect to SharePoint Database Backup File – Read only’, SRM Pro will allow you to select the appropriate .bak file that contains the data you’re looking for. It will then ask you for your SQL Server information, because the application will actually create a temporary SQL database that will be fully navigational in the UI.
After your database is created you can now see it in SQL, and you’ve got a fully functioning copy of your SharePoint backup to work with in SRM Pro.
In my examples, I will show you first how to save, copy and restore a single document and also how to restore an entire list right back into your SharePoint site.
Let’s say that I want to restore just one document that was deleted from a document library and from the recycle bin. I’ve got a few options here. I can either save a copy of the file to my local machine, restore it to its original location in the document library or copy it to another location on a live SharePoint site.
In my case, I’ve got an image file called ‘yankees.jpg’ that I just can’t seem to find anywhere on the site, but I know it was in the root document library (I know, mission critical data!). So I bring up a recent backup and navigate to the root document library to find it. From here, I can choose ‘Items view’ to drill down to the items within the library itself. Lo and behold there’s my lost jpg! If I wanted to I could even preview this document to make sure it is the right one.
From this screenshot you can see the options that are available at the item level. These options are available on any SharePoint item within the connection including sites themselves. But what if I didn’t remember where the file was? SRM Pro has a nice search feature that will allow you to search these databases for whatever you need, and in the latest version you can even restore right from the search screen.
In this example, I’ll show you what SRM Pro can do when you want to copy an entire list. As I mentioned before, you will be able to restore a list just like you would with an individual document. To aid in this process, SRM Pro comes bundled with a handy compare feature that will analyze the backup before you decide to restore it. A common use case for this feature would be to compare a list from a backup to a list sitting on a live SharePoint site. Someone may have deleted some items from the list, so you need to find which backup has the right items. This is literally a 5 minute job, and you’ll be an office hero afterwards! All you have to do is right click on the list in your SharePoint site connection and select ‘Compare List’. You’ll then be prompted to select the list that you want to compare it to. In my case, I’m comparing a list named ‘BTI Submissions’ to the backup version of the list that is in the temporary SQL database that I setup earlier.
After you click Ok, SRM Pro will compare the list and give you the results. The comparison was able to find 13 items that are missing, so I can safely assume that this is the backup to restore. The results dialog box shows you which IDs are missing, so popping over to the list in ‘Items view’ will allow you to see what the IDs refer to.
At this point, you can go ahead and restore the backup copy to the live site. SRM Pro has enough logic built-in so that you won’t accidentally restore this to the wrong list. Just right-click on the backup copy of the list and select ‘Restore’. The restore dialog box now only gives you the option of restoring this list to the original location. NOTE: If you wanted this list to go somewhere else, then you would copy it rather than restore it.
Once you click Ok, SRM Pro will restore the entire list to its original location on the live SharePoint site, and all will be well again in your world!
- Added the ability to connect directly to offline mdf database files
- Added the ability to search live sites and backups for specific SharePoint content
- Added the ability to sort the items view and search results screens
- Added ability to preserve content types on lists during restore or copy processes
- Can now migrate and restore permissions, including item level permissions and groups
- Can now view historical versions of documents when versioning has been turned on
- Can now restore an item directly from the log viewer when comparing data
- Bundled help topics
- Very lightweight requiring only about 5MB of hard drive space and 256MB of RAM
- Can be installed on remote client machines rather than on the server
- Very low impact on server resources
- Can read/write from any machine on the domain connected to the farm
- Can restore individual SharePoint items and documents to the local machine
- Compare backup copies of the site to the live production site
- Copy data on the fly from backup to live site or live site to live site
- Saves your current session when you exit the application, so no need to reconnect to databases or sites
- Compatible in x64 environments
- Cannot open multiple .bak files at the same time if they represent separate databases. You must do them individually.
- Relies on native SharePoint and/or SQL Server backups
I had a hard time finding bad things about this product. It did everything that I needed it to do, and it plugged a big hole for me when needing to restore documents quickly. If you run a critical SharePoint shop, then this product can help keep your mind at ease when you will inevitably need to restore lost or deleted data. I highly recommend this product, and you should at the very least download the trial to see how it can help you.
Product Reviewed: Metalogix Selective Restore Manager Pro 4.0.67