This is a good question to start with. What data do you need to back up in order to be sure that you can survive a catastrophic situation? The answer is that the information that relates to SharePoint is stored in a lot of places, not only the databases as one may at first assume. This section will describe what you need to know in order to protect the SharePoint environment. There is one golden rule when it comes to SharePoint backups:
Rule #1: What you back up is what you can restore!
In other words, if you make a backup of a site, you will be able to restore that site, and nothing but that site. For example, you will not be able to restore a list or a single document in that site. The consequence is that you will most likely develop a strategy consisting of several backup procedures that all work together, in order to make it possible to restore whatever data has been lost.
All information in all SharePoint sites is stored in the SQL database, including data, configurations, and customizations. SharePoint will use the types of databases in the following table, depending on whether you are using MOSS or WSS.
|Content Databases (MOSS and WSS)||All documents, news, links, contacts, calendars, and so on.
All Web Parts and their settings.All customization of sites done with SharePoint Designer.
|Config Database (MOSS and WSS)||All team site names and their configuration properties.
All site collections. ...