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SQL Server backup and restore management tutorial

From system failure to catastrophic disaster, this guide features the backup and recovery know-how that can mean the difference between life and death for your SQL Server database.

You’re better safe than sorry when it comes to SQL Server failures and disasters, so having a backup and recovery plan in place is essential to protecting your database from any potential threat. Implementing the necessary database backup and recovery tools is the safest route toward protecting your organization’s past, present and future. 

With so many elements to SQL Server backup and recovery, figuring out where to start can be a challenge. This guide sheds light on the primary topics that can help formulate a solid backup and recovery plan, including additional considerations to take into account when designing a strategy.

SQL Server backup best practices

Getting started with SQL Server backups
Backing up your SQL Server is where it all begins in terms of protecting your database from any sort of disaster. Here are the absolute basics of database backups with SQL Server to get you started.

Ten steps to faster SQL Server backups
As databases continuously expand in size, backing up SQL Server has become a much more dragged out process for many organizations. Here are 10 steps you can take to make your backups run faster while saving time and money.

Maximizing SQL Server backup performance
Backing up your server can cause a bottleneck effect that can alter overall performance. Having a checklist of ways to increase I/O throughput, configure backup methods, and manage scheduling may be just what you need to keep your SQL Server backups running at peak performance. 

Top tips for SQL Server backup maintenance
Protecting a database is a primary objective for DBAs and it begins with an effective backup process. Here you’ll find tips on choosing the best backup method for your organization, as well as details on schedule management utilities, testing restores, and securing backups for maximum efficiency. 

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Running SQL Server backups for the masses
Without a backup plan, large SQL Server installations pose several challenges, so when considering a backup plan design it is important to take strict measures to avoid disaster. A few of those measures are discussed here, including network bandwidth, server monitoring, and recovery testing considerations that can make all the difference in the event of a system failure. 

The basics of backups and restores for SQL Server Analysis Services
Backing up and restoring SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) isn’t as easy as it looks, but Microsoft has come a long way since Microsoft Analysis Services 2000. These days, certain functions can be executed with a single tool, eliminating the need for other backup and restore utilities. 

Easy-to-do backup planning with maintenance plans in SQL Server
Although building your own backup plan is the best way to get ideal results from your SQL Server backups, maintenance plans are the next best route to take for the less experienced admin. The Database Maintenance Plan Wizard in SQL Server provides an easy-to-use interface that will construct a baseline backup plan to help you get started.

SQL Server recovery techniques

Restoring from previous SQL Server versions
Recovering a database from a previous version of SQL Server differs depending on which version you are restoring to. Although there isn’t a standard procedure for versions prior to SQL Server 7.0, performing a restore to a later version can be done through Enterprise Manager or T-SQL commands. 

  • Recovery with Enterprise Manager
    So you’ve backed up your SQL Server using Database Maintenance Plans and are now looking for a simple way to restore the database. Enterprise Manager commands provide a quick-fix for restoring your database on-the-fly and offers additional options for restoring a SQL Server such as eject tapes and forced restores on existing databases.
  • Using T-SQL commands
    An alternative to using Enterprise Manager to restore a database is through the use of T-SQL commands. T-SQL commands overcome issues with Enterprise Manager by automating the restore process and making it more user-friendly. Here, you’ll find a comparison of Enterprise Manager screen shots versus T-SQL commands to perform a restore and how to construct your own codes using T-SQL commands.

Recovering an existing database on the same server
Restoring an existing database on the same SQL Server is a simpler procedure than the one discussed above –once you know how to get around the error messages. This type of restore involves locating physical files and updating them, once again using Enterprise Manager or T-SQL commands. 

Restoring a database from another SQL Server
Following similar steps, you can also restore a database from another SQL Server, but restoring the database is the easy part. When performing this process, admins need to keep a close eye on user information by accessing the login information through stored procedures, and making sure the usernames and logins match up on the new server. 

How to restore from a transaction log in SQL Server
Restoring a database from a transaction log is trickier than the restore processes discussed above, as restoring the backup files is a more complex process. Identifying what to restore, knowing how to back up the transaction log and understanding point-in-time recovery are a few of the topics addressed here that make a transaction log backup possible. 

The ‘how to’ for testing SQL Server restores
An important measure that many DBAs fail to take to ensure the accuracy of the restore process is testing, which simply means restoring a database to a test or development server. By failing to test SQL Server restores, admins are chancing the backup process, as well as the safety of the data itself. 

Cracking the code to SQL Server test environments
Automating SQL Server test environments generates up-to-date data consistency throughout your database. By creating a scheduled task, the database can be restored regularly through a four-step code that can be tailored to your SQL environment.

SQL Server disaster recovery planning

Here's how smart DBAs typically set up their backup plans: they take a full backup whenever it's practical to do so.
Don Jones, Microsoft MVP

Identifying your SQL Server disaster recovery solution
With so many disaster recovery options to choose from, it can sometimes be difficult for admins to pinpoint the solution that best fits their organizations. Learn what you need to do before selecting a solution and the pros and cons of each option to help ease the decision making process.

How to ‘do’ SQL Server disaster recovery
Once you’ve chosen your disaster recovery solution, you need to actually perform the backup. Whether it’s the hourly transaction log backup, the daily differential backup or the weekly full backup, DBAs are always working to keep servers running at their greatest potential, and here’s how. 

Maintenance tips to keep your disaster recovery strategy on its toes
Although system-wide disasters are a rare occurrence, they can have catastrophic effects on your database – especially if you are not prepared. A checklist of steps you can take to plan for disaster recovery may be the lifesaver you need to revive your system following a disaster.

Other considerations

Hardware considerations for simpler SQL Server failovers
In the event of a SQL Server failover, hardware implementation can be a balancing act when it comes to performance and availability. Finding the right mix between failover options and hardware components is the key to executing a successful failover solution, with several options available to customize a solution to your organization.

Laying the groundwork for SQL standby servers
Standby servers are also becoming increasingly essential to DBAs working to avoid SQL Server backup and recovery issues. These servers are temporary stand-ins for failed production servers that can perform the same backup operations as the original server – once you know how to set up and maintain them. 

Using stored procedures to trace SQL Server backups and restores
Backups and restores are everyday procedures for many organizations that aren’t always activated by the same source. Keeping track of when backups and restores occur lies in stored procedures, which allow you to monitor backup files and restore database histories. 

The role of SANs is a SQL Server environment
As SQL Server databases continue to grow and disaster recovery becomes more essential to managing SQL Server environments, storage area networks (SANs) are also gaining importance, but while there are several benefits to using SANs, there are also some considerations to be aware of, including caching, LUNs, and RAID. 

Configuring RAID for maximum SQL Server I/O throughput
Since backup and restore procedures assess all of the contents in a database through I/O throughput, it is important to place the data in a variety of locations to prevent a system overload. Depending on your organization’s needs, specific RAID levels may be more appropriate than others. Here, RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 are considered. 

Want to learn more? Find additional news, tips, and tutorials at our SQL Server backup and recovery topic page.

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