Backup and Restore – what are the options?

A while back I posted about the backup and restore process and recommended using the SharePoint utility in Central Administration.  That is still my preference and I recently used this to rebuild my server farm including 3 servers, 2 shared service providers and a dozen PWA instances covering about 10 different languages.  I must admit it did take several attempts and my one big take-away is - try, try, try again until it all works in one go.  The process isn't very forgiving if one piece fails, so best to remedy the problem and run the whole restore again.  The problems I ran into were services that needed starting (Office search in my case, and the Project application) or databases I'd forgotten to delete.  Top tip number two is that if you have a complex restore to do and you are changing machine names, URLs, paths to db files, service accounts etc. it can be very tedious to edit these in the UI each time - particularly for all 12 PWA sites!  So a short cut is first to take a backup of the spbackup.xml file, and then edit the original and change the various things that need changing in the XML file.  It should be easy to work out what needs editing - especially if you have already been through the restore process a couple of times.

So this restore gets everything back how it was, on either the same server or a different configuration. 

What if you only have database backups?  What can you do and what do you lose?  This is a reasonably common scenario - particularly for people with a 2003 background who are used to working with just the WSS content db and the ProjectServer db.  But things have changed - and the main challenge is that the PWA site is now held within the content database.  This causes some issues as if you want to move the databases to another server you will need to re-provision this PWA site - and you can't do this against the same content db if it already exists.  And if you delete it then everything under /PWA is gone!  Which may well include any workspaces for your projects as this is the default location for them.  So you have a few options, and we will assume here that you are restoring and re-attaching your main content database to the default web site, and restoring your 4 project server databases.

  1. Re-provision your /PWA site to a different location - such as /PWA2, and all your old content will still be under /PWA and you will still be able to get to it.  This is a good way to work going forward as you now have two independent locations for your PWA site and your other WSS content.
  2. Don't attach the original content db and provision your PWA site to /PWA, then attach your content db to another web application (different port).  You can then re-link your projects to point to the different location for the content.
  3. An extension of option 2 - you could use stsadm export and import functions to copy the individual workspaces from their new location back under /PWA - and all is back how it was - well almost.

So what do you still lose by going this route?  Fidelity.  If you have customized your PWA site through site settings you will lose these changes using any method other than the SharePoint backup/restore.  As an example the following site was replicated using option 1 and the highlighted changes (and the colour from the theme) are lost in the restored site pictured below.  You do however keep any changes made through Server Settings such as menu edits (My Timecard in place of My Timesheets in the screen shots).

Original PWA Site

Restored PWA Site

I hope this helps understand what is stored where - and the challenges of moving data between servers, either for migration or disaster recovery.

Technorati Tags: Project Server 2007

Comments (48)

  1. A very good white paper has just been updated on Office Technet for MOSS: Data protection and recovery

  2. Jochen Ruhland says:


    Sharepoint CA for backup is nice .. but can this process be automated? I can only see the option to manually trigger the backup. Ans as all the backups pile up in the file share, what is the proper was to delete old and unused backups?

  3. Great question – and I don’t have an immediate answer.  Not sure if the SharePoint whitepaper that Steve mentions in the comments above has the answer.

  4. Jochen Ruhland says:


    yes this MOSS paper is great. Just for reference:

    It also talks about the deletion of old versions:

    “You may want to use the backup file deletion script provided in the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article: How to automate the deletion of backups in SharePoint Server 2007 and in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 by using a Visual Basic script (”

  5. Adrian Miller says:

    When trying to restore my PWA Site to another server I got the following error:

    "Can’t obtain ProjectPSISharedApplication restoring ProjectSite"

    What is my mistake?

  6. What steps are you following?  You cannot use a partial farm restore between sites.  Either a full farm backup restore – or just the PWA databases and then provision a new site on the other server.

  7. Patrick Guerra says:

    We are in the 2nd category in that we restore from the database only. We recently had a crash and had to re-install Project Server 2007. We were able to restore all the data but now in PWA>Server Settings>Project Workspaces all the workspaces are blank. When we try to Edit Site Address, we get “The web site does not exist or is not configured for Project Server. Enter a web site that has been extended with a Project Server compatible template.” Create Site returns site already exists and Delete Site returns No site exists. Everything else works fine. We can save, publish, etc. Do know why this might be happening?

  8. Hi Patrick,

    So a full farm backup would have avoided this problem :). This is probably caused by a change in the UID for the site hosting the worksapces.  In the _Published database, the MSP_Projects table has entries for the WPROJ_STS_SUBWEB_NAME and WSTS_SERVER_UID as well as entries for UIDs for the risks and issues lists.  These may be out of sync with the current UIDs of the site and lists. We should shortly be releasing a toll that will help to re-link in istuations like this that avoids you needing to edit the database directly – which of course I would never condone…


  9. Patrick Guerra says:

    Thanks for the quick response. I would have loved to restore from a farm backup but we began from Beta to TR to RTM and have never been able to get the Central Admin Backup to work. We get access to database denied even after following all (and I have read several) instructions. BTW, your blog is awesome and is now at the top of my Favorites List.

  10. Server Installation says:


    –Started with a trial version of Project Server 2007;

    –Trial period ended;

    –Acquired a full licence key;

    –Went into Central Admin to upgrade licence but it decide not to work.

    –After many tries decided to backup the farm, remove the trial installation and then reinstall the server.Sounded logical;

    –A million attempts later still cannot get the database to recover and successfully provision the website to work.

    Any thoughts?

  11. You haven’t given me a lot to go on.  Not sure why the licence change would fail.  When restoring a full farm back up one tip I will give is that it needs to work in one go.  If you get errors on a specific part then you cannot easily recover – just resolve the specific issue and then start over again.

  12. cesar cruz says:


    First of all I appreciate you providing answer to all questions posted here. I have posted two questions about project server 2007 in different blogs and three months later no response.

    Question – I would like to copy my current production PWA site on a periodic regular basis to a new PWA instance. I run a weekly CA Farm backup and I know how to create a new instance. I have read many blogs and followed them to the letter but it does not work. Please let me know how I can accomplish this.

    Thank You.

  13. Hi Cesar,

    We are looking at producing some tools to make this easier – but this isn’t going to help you until late summer.  For now the options depend on what data you need to take across.  If you just want the PWA instance and can live without the WSS stuff such as documents, issues, risks and dependencies then backup the 4 project dbs, restore them on the other server then provision a new PWA site naming these 4 databases.  You could re-use and existing PWA instance by deleting it first.  If you need the WSS stuff then full farm backup/restore is best.  You do need to start with a clean new farm with just Central Admin up and running.  What problems are you seeing?

    Best regards,


  14. Patrick Guerra says:

    I have successfully created one farm backup. I gave our SQL Server access to the share and the backup worked once. But now it won’t anymore. Nothing has changed. I deleted the Backup/Restore Timer Job, Reset IIS, checked the logon credentials for the Timer Service. I am stuck on "Preparing the current backup/restore job". Any suggestions? By the way, we also run MOSS 2007 and the backup works fine.

  15. says:

    Update on CA Backup hanging.  It appears that the job is hanging when it gets to the Search Database. It did not do this before.

  16. says:

    Update on CA Backup hanging. Apparently, the backup will hang (pause) when it gets to the Search Database and then will successfully complete. I do have another question. I am trying to setup a test environment which matches our production but the restore on the test seems to be pointing to production. I have renamed the ports and databases. Any thoughts?

  17. Hi Patrick,

    Did you update all the addresses when doing the restore?  What exactly is still pointing to production?


  18. says:

    Sorry for the delay. I don’t know if it was me or the way CA does a "New" Restore. I wanted to duplicate production but I kept getting failures until I renamed the databases. Then it completely restored to my test environment. Is this right because we are planning to re-install our production server and will be restoring the Farm?

  19. Hi JP – Which databases did you need to rename?  Normally this is soemthing that will break Project – as each of the databases refers to the others – so without re-provisioning renaming will break these "hard-coded" links.

    Best regards,


  20. nhannt says:

    I received this error : An unexpected error has occurred.

  21. Hi nhannt – you don’t say where you see this error – but may be a posting that will help you.

    Best regards,


  22. says:

    We (I) renamed them all. We tested this several times on a test server and it seems to work fine. Our scenario was this: We had a major crash after applying SP1 which corrupted the OS. We needed to reinstall the OS as well as the Application. We successfuly created a CA Backup and then installed a new server and application on a test server. We then RESTORED as NEW, renamed all the databases and it worked. We then successfully performed the same steps on the production server.

  23. says:

    I do have another question. Before and after our re-install, our WSS Alters are not going out. These are the Alters for documents, changes and uploads. We do not use alerts for Task Updates. We have un-installed our anti-virus in case that was blocking the Alerts. The Timer Service Account has full privileges to the database. When we set up the Alert, a notice goes out that the Alert has been created but then no alert goes out when a document is changed. Any thought? Thanks!!

  24. Excellent news JP – glad it all went well.

  25. Not sure about the alerts though – has the smtp changed – or do you need to make changes to reflect the new server sending out the alerts?

  26. says:

    Thanks for the reply. We have done some more investigating and found that the job-immediate-alerts was not created when people were setting up alerts so there was no Immediate Alerts Timer Job Definition. We have corrected this as well as the job-config-refresh so that now all Timer Jobs are running. We receive Alerts when the original Alert is created. We receive an Alert when a document is modified or deleted. We DO NOT receive an Alert when a document is added. We have tested this several times with different libraries and sites on our Project Server. We are also running a separate MOSS 2007 server and all Alerts work as they should. We have been searching all over the interent looking for some reference to this issue but have found none. Is this an application bug? Is there some other Timer Job that runs this? I really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

  27. Rajeev says:

    hi brian,

    please help me !!!!

    i have created a pwa site url http:\testsp-gdd-ggn:26046tts

    i took a backup of this tts site only.

    now when i am trying to restore it on newly installed project server it gives the error.

    if i am creatting a site with diffrent name but same database and restoring the database only it working fine except on my timesheet page it gives a webpart mentanence error.

    What should i do.

    i am in great problem, please help!!



  28. Hi Rajeev,

    You cannot just backup a site via Farm Backup – it is all or nothing.   Restoring just the databases is valid and then provisioning a new different named site (but not restoring OVER another site).  The web part maintenance error may be unrelated to the backup/restore.


  29. says:

    Hi again! We have been successfully completing daily CA Farm Backups but now we are getting the following error. The strange thing is that we don’t get the error every day or even on the same day of the week. Any ideas?

    [8/15/2008 3:21:08 AM]: Progress: [WSS_Content_Intranet1] 95 percent complete.

    [8/15/2008 3:22:12 AM]: Verbose: [WSS_Content_Intranet1] SQL Server Message: Processed 1365840 pages for database ‘WSS_Content_Intranet1’, file ‘WSS_Content_Intranet’ on file 1.

    [8/15/2008 3:22:12 AM]: Progress: [WSS_Content_Intranet1] 100 percent complete.

    [8/15/2008 3:22:13 AM]: Verbose: [WSS_Content_Intranet1] SQL Server Message: Processed 1 pages for database ‘WSS_Content_Intranet1’, file ‘WSS_Content_Intranet_log’ on file 1.

    [8/15/2008 3:23:34 AM]: Error: Object WSS_Content_Intranet1 failed in event OnBackup. For more information, see the error log located in the backup directory.

    SqlException: A nonrecoverable I/O error occurred on file "\ersatweb003backupmossspbr00540000013.bak:" 64(The specified network name is no longer available.).

    BACKUP DATABASE is terminating abnormally.

  30. Hi JP,

    It looks like it hit a temporary network outage getting to the backup share. Does it always happen for the same content database?

    Best regards,


  31. says:

    Yes. It always happens for the same content database. We have another SharePoint Server that is also doing Daily Farm Backups and it is fine. Both are pointing to the same SQL Server.

  32. As SharePoint is just calling a SQL backup function it would be interesting to see if the same issue occurs when backing up from SQL Server.  Perhaps you could get the DBA to set a regular backup from SQL (at a different time than the SharePoint backup) and see if you ever see this error.  If it is the largest db backed up then any temporary problem is more likely to occur during this backup than other smaller databases.

  33. Dan says:

    G’day Brian, great blog by the way..

    I’m pretty new to this Project Server business,, (and MOSS 2007 for that matter)

    I have inherited a test system that has never worked.. We have a production Farm up and running.. ANyway.. the test farm is a mash.. PWA doesn’t work.. the infrustucture updates wouldn’t load due to the index being screwed… and the list goes on…

    Can you or someone please please,, do a step by step… From Production to Test server docoument ? Assueming I have a clean build of MOSS2007 – Project Server.. One SSP and One PWA


  34. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for posting this as a comment – I did see your e-mail contact too, and am preparing a posting on this topic, hopefully by the end of the week (I appreciate your week ends earlier than mine).  So keep your eyes out for it.


  35. Sadaf Shaikh says:

    I’m facing the same issue as Patrick Guerra , which e mentioned in the post on Thursday, January 03, 2008 1:18 PM.

    I had successfully done a full farm backup using the CA backup utility, and yet at the time of the restore , the restore didn’t work out when selecting the full farm option.

    Had no option but to go for the 2nd scneario whereby after restoring the PWA_Content did the restore for the 4 PS databases individually. Result is tha the project and resource data is back and all features are working except the the workspaces…..Create Site returns site already exists and Delete Site returns No site exists

    I have tried the WSS site relinker tool and am still stuck with the same problem.  You mentioned about updates on the release of the toll which would resolve the issue without doing database level edit. Is the release to be done anytime soon ?

  36. Michael Richards says:

    Nice article and it helped…kinda.  We are performing a full farm backup (WSS 3.0/PS 2007) and restore to a new server.  The new server has WSS 3.0 installed on it.  I’ve gone through the SharePoint Tech Wizard on the new server to get CA running.  I then just go to perform a restore from a full backup, choose new configuration, and enter the passwords and new database server info.  Everything restores EXCEPT PWA.  I kep getting:

    Object PWA failed in event OnPostRestore. For more information, see the error log located in the backup directory. FileNotFoundException: The site with the id 411eb061-67c2-4e7c-9f82-fbb8b8615fae could not be found.

    Does anyone have any ideas?  I’ve spent days on this and have no clue how to proceed.  Thanks!

  37. Hi Michael,

    You mention that the new server has WSS 3.0 installed.  The full farm restore doesn’t install the bits – you will need to load Project Server on the target machine (but you don’t need to configure anything once you have CA running).

    Let me know if I have mis-read the situation.

    Best regards,


  38. Michael Richards says:

    Hi Brian,

    Sorry about that.  I forgot to mention that on the new server, PS 2007 is also installed.  So I’ve got WSS 3.0/PS2007 installed and CA is running.  I haven’t done any configuration within CA.  I go and perform a restore and all goes well except for that error I mentioned.  The managed path ‘pwa’ even exists but try to access the site throws the FileNotFound exception.  I’m at  loss.  Thanks for any input Brian.

  39. Michael RIchards says:


    One further note, on the production server, the PWA site collection is in it’s own content db.  It is not in the default WSS_Content.  We have it in WSS_Content_PWA.  I don’t know if that helps/hinders anything.  When I look at the restore that we perform, in CA the PWA site collection is pointing to the right content db so it seems like it should work.  Thanks Aagain.


  40. Hi Michael,

    I know that host headers can cause problems for the CA backup and restore.  Could this be the issue?  Or do any alternate access mappings need to be reset?

    Best regards,


  41. Michael Richards says:

    I’ll double check.  I’ve tried restoried via CA and STSADM.  Here’s a few lines of the PWA object when restoring from stsadm.  You can see it throwing the FileNotFoundException again.

    Verbose: Starting object: WSS_Content_SSP1.

    Verbose: [WSS_Content_SSP1] Trying to attach to web application url: http://tnhs


    Verbose: [WSS_Content_SSP1] Attaching database

    Verbose: Starting object: SharedServices1_DB.

    Verbose: Starting object: Project Server Application.

    Progress: [Project Server Application] 100 percent complete.

    Verbose: Starting object: PWA.

    Error: Object PWA failed in event OnPostRestore. For more information, see the e

    rror log located in the backup directory.

           FileNotFoundException: The site with the id 411eb061-67c2-4e7c-9f82-fbb8

    b8615fae could not be found.

    Verbose: Starting object: ProjectServer_Published.

    Verbose: Starting object: ProjectServer_Draft.

    Verbose: Starting object: ProjectServer_Archive.

    Verbose: Starting object: ProjectServer_Reporting.

    Verbose: Starting object: SessionStateSharedApplication.

  42. Michael Richards says:


    When I go into my SharedServics1 within CA, and then click Project Web Access Sites, I see the instance http://<servername>/PWA with a status of failed.  If I try to delete the instance so I can reprovision a new site using the same databases, I get An unhandled exception occurred in the user interface.Exception Information: The site with the id 411eb061-67c2-4e7c-9f82-fbb8b8615fae could not be found.  

    This is the same GUID that appears during the restore error.  Is there a way to delete this rogue GUID and reference to the site?

    Thanks as usual Brian.


  43. Hi Michael,

    This may well need a support incident to get to the bottom of the problem.  How much investment do you have in the other parts of this installation in terms of WSS content.  It may be cleaner to start with a new farm, and then attach the WSS_Content to get back your WSS stuff – and then create a new PWA referencing the 4 Project Server databases.  The challange will be any PWA workspaces.

    Deleting the GUID or removing the "provisioning" job would probably take us into "unsupported" territory…

    Best regards,


  44. Normandy says:

    GP and Brian,

    I’m having the same “I/O error on backup” problem.  I’m currently using Stsadm to backup the farm, site collections and doing regular site exports.  Its storing the backup files on a shared folder on my Index server.

    The backup error only occurs for my Content Database just like everyone else mentioned.  Just to add, this was a problem that did not exist for a long time on my farm then last week it started happening for no “obvious” reason.  Resolution would be greatly appreciated.  

  45. azjimwoodny says:

    Hey Brian,

    I’m working on restoring a farm to a new 2008 64 bit farm and am running into an issue that appears to be related to the Sharepoint restore process not finding the correct IIS site when they are differentiated by host headers not IP and port.  It essentially errors out on the second instance telling me the site is already in use after the first site has been restored.

    As an example I have two sites http://epm/bhmpwa and http://epmtest/hbmpwa.  Both run on the same IP and port 80 but use IIS host headers to differentiate the two sites.

    Any idea if this has been run into before?

  46. Sayed Toufiq says:

    Hi Brain,

    I need some help in troubleshooting the below two errors, let me tell you

    the scenario…

    we have a production MOSS running with PWA… we want to migrate only the

    PWA… I have installed MOSS and provision the new PWA… have taken a backup

    of PWA databases i.e. ProjectServer_Published03,ProjectServer_Draft03,

    ProjectServer_Archive03 and ProjectServer_Reporting03.

    Now when I’m restoring through Central Administration getting these below

    mentioned errors. Your help will much appriaciated…

    Project Server Application  Completing restore 11/4/2009 9:49 PM Object

    Project Server Application failed in event OnPostRestore. For more

    information, see the error log located in the backup directory.

    FileNotFoundException: The site with the id

    7d16954f-1114-4054-9738-b32aa88511ee could not be found.

    PWA  Completing restore 11/4/2009 9:50 PM Object PWA failed in event

    OnPostRestore. For more information, see the error log located in the backup

    directory. InvalidOperationException: ProjectSite.OnPostRestore



  47. Hi Toufiq,

    It isn’t possible to backup/restore just the PWA through Central Administration.  You can use the backups that CA takes if you can identify the specific .bak files, but partial restores like this need to be made using SQL restore and then provision a new PWA instance against the restored databases.

    Best regards,


  48. Manfred Guendel says:

    Hi Brian

    I recently migrated a project server from one server farm to another. The original SSP was damaged and to move it to the other farm was not an option. I used the second farm SSP to provision a new PWA pointing to a copy of the original project server databases, then I use stsadm -o export and import in order to move the project workspaces from one farm to another.I updated the Workspaces URLs in project server and synchonized user permissions. For 320 project workspaces the procedure worked fine, but I have 10 sites that refuse to work. The first problem was the URL. It used to contain special characters that the export operation reported as non valid URLs, so I renamed the sites in order to export them. In the target farm I imported the sites with no problem, but when I tried to update the URL in PS I receive the error "The web site does not exist or is not configured for Project Server. Enter a web site that has been extended with a Project Server compatible template".

    Some time ago you talked about a re-link tool you were developing . Is it ready? Any idea to fix this issue?



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