November 19, 2007

How To Backup a DNN Installation

Another very common question that I see regarding DotNetNuke is when and how should I backup my DotNetNuke site. This topic is VERY important and requires a bit of planning, especially if you do not have direct access to your database server to perform your own backups. In the following sections I will first talk about what you must backup and why some of those items are very important. I will then discuss how to perform a DNN backup and SQL Server backup, both for SQL 2000 and 2005.  Finally I will discuss options available for third party modules for performing backups for individuals that do not have direct access to their servers.  This is a second revision of this article.

What to Backup?

Simply put, it is a best practice to backup your ENTIRE DotNetNuke directory on the web server as well as a full backup of the database. Some people will say that you can get by with only backing up the "portals" folder, this is NOT correct! To successfully restore a DotNetNuke installation you must ensure that you have all module .dll and other code files you also must have the same validation and decryption keys.  I have found that the only real method to keep your data safe is to create a backup with all files.  Given the limited file size of the core DNN installation I have not found this to be a hinderance, especially since the additional files that exist in my website are all related to the content available within and is something I must have a backup of anyway.

Performing the Backup

Performing a backup of DotNetNuke is a fairly easy two step process. First I will discuss backing up the DNN installation directory, then I will discuss options available for backing up the database.

Backing up the DotNetNuke Directory

You have two options when backing up the DotNetNuke directory. If you have direct access to the server, you can simply right click on the DotNetNuke directory and select "Send To:" -> "Compressed (Zipped) Folder". This applies for most versions of the windows operating system. You will then have a file named where dnn was your directory name. This zip file will contain all needed backup files, you will want to store this in a safe location.

If you do not have direct access to the server and can only access it via FTP you will have an additional step to obtain a zip file for your site. You will want to connect to your FTP site and COPY all files to a temporary location on your local computer. Once all files have been copied you will want to create a zip file including ALL files and folders that were just downloaded. 

NOTE: Depending on your hosting provider to save yourself time some will automatically zip your website up for you so you have only 1 file to download!

NOTE: if using a program such as WinZip for zipping, ensure that the "Use Folder Names" option is enabled so that the folder structure is preserved within your zip archive.

Backing up the DotNetNuke Database

To backup the database you must have access to the database server and the file system of the database server. If you are in a hosted environment you will need to rely on your hosting provider to obtain a backup, or you will need to look into a potential third party solution to backup the database from within DotNetNuke. If you have full access to the server please use one of the below sets of instructions to backup your database..

Backing up a Database with SQL Server 2000 and Enterprise Manager

Follow the below steps if you wish to create a databse backup file from Enterprise Manager for SQL Server 2000 using Enterprise Manager.

  • Navigate to your specific database in Enterprise Manager
  • Right click on the database and select "All Tasks" -> "Backup Database.."
  • Ensure that "Complete" is selected for the backup type
  • Click the "Add" button in the "Destination" section
  • In this section provide a full file path to the desired backup file, typically named DATABASENAME.bak where DATABASENAME is your database name
  • Click "Ok" to generate your backup, you will receive a success notice upon completion

You will now have a full backup file containing all tables and data for your database.

This process is very similar with SQL Server 2005.

Backing up a Database with T-SQL Commands (2000 and 2005)

The fastest method to backup your database is to use T-SQL commands.  You simply need to create a backup device which specifies where your backup file should go, then you simply perform a 'BACKUP DATABASE' call to perform the database backup.  The following scripts show you how to create a backup file called MyBackup.bak in your C drive which will contain the entire dnn441 database.  You will need to adapt this script to fit your configuration.

--Create Device!
EXEC sp_addumpdevice 'disk''MyBackupDevice''C:\MyBackup.bak'

--Now backup the db
TO MyBackupDevice

Regardless if you used one of my methods above or had your hosting provider create a backup for you once you have obtained .bak file you have everything you should need to restore your site to its current state. How often you perform this type of backup really depends on the amount of activity, the frequency of actual changes, and the amount of loss you are willing to accept. A full backup plan is something that needs to be considered on an individual implementation basis and includes many factors.

Third Party Modules

Some third party backup modules exist on the market that will allow users to generate SQL Server backups without direct access to the database server. Below are a few links to these utilities. I have NOT used any of these utilities and do not recommend one over the other, I am simply providing these links as a starting point for your research into a solution.

Other Considerations

The above process outlines the common backup practices that are needed to backup your website to allow you to restore it to the same location.  If you are taking a backup to move the site to a different location it is very helpful if you add a new portal alias for the new site BEFORE you backup the database.  This will allow the restore process to be more streamlined.

For example if your production site it and you are looking to restore it to http://localhost/mysite on your local machine, login as host and add the alias under "Site Settings" before you take the backup.

I hope this tutorial/post has provided you the needed information to prepare a successful DotNetNuke backup. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

tags: DNN, Tutorials
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