There are three ways you can backup your SharePoint environment:
Using the Central Administration user interface
Using automated backup scripts
I personally never use the first option. Through my experiences with backing up MOSS and WSS Farms, I learned that the best way to run a backup and restore is through the STSADM utility. Some may argue this, but I feel extremely comfortable with STSADM since I use it for almost all my SharePoint operations, so I tend to stick with it. Also, the admin interface failed me once when I was restoring an entire farm, whereas the STSADM utility has never failed me yet.
So what are the types of backups we can perform. There are two types:
Before you create a differential backup however, you need to at least perform a full backup for the first time. Since this post is talking about how to run backup and restore using STSADM, I’m going to skip the instructions on how to do it through the admin interface; it’s pretty much self-explanatory, so I’m sure you can figure it out yourself.
So here are the command lines you need to know to perform a backup:
To backup a site collection, use the following command line:
stsadm -o backup -url <URL of the site collection> -filename <name of the backup file>
To backup an individual database, web application, or entire farm, use the following command line:
stsadm -o backup -directory <UNC path or local drive> -backupmethod <full or differential>
Now that you backed up your farm, it’s time to restore it. Use the following command lines to accomplish this:
To restore a site collection, use the following command line:
stsadm -o restore -url <URL of site collection> -filename <name of backup file>
To restore an entire farm, use the following command line:
stsadm -o restore -directory <UNC path or local drive> -restoremethod <overwrite or new>
So let’s say now you want to migrate data from one SharePoint Server to another. You always have the option of using Export and Import, which I always like to use. Note that this tool will only migrate sites.
To export your sites, use the following command line:
stsadm -o export -url <URL> -filename <FileName>.cmp
To import your site, use the following command line:
stsadm -o import -url <URL> -filename <FileName>.cmp
So as you can see, these command lines are pretty easy. Why trouble yourself with a thousand clicks in the admin interface when you have this beautiful utility available.