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Backups and Development Environments

The Stanford Sites service allows you to opt-in to greater control over your site backups and to maintain a separate “development copy” of your website with which you can test changes before making them live. After you have submitted a request and this environment is activated for you (see “Getting Started” below), you can manage these functions in Drupal using the pre-installed Backup and Migrate module.

Guidelines for using the Backup and Migrate module

The simplest way to use the Drupal Backup and Migrate module is to create backups within your production site and restore from backup if something goes wrong. You can view a screencast detailing that process in the Next Steps section, below.

As a general practice migration should be one-way — from production to development. To avoid complications, always copy your database and files from the production site to the development site, test any changes in development, and then manually implement those tested changes on the production site.

Data flows from production to development environment

Examples of things that are in the file system:

  • uploaded attachments (PDFs, MS Word docs)
  • uploaded images
  • CSS injector rules

Examples of things that are in the database:

  • users
  • roles
  • content
  • settings
  • Views configurations
  • content types

Several tools can help make migrating changes easier, such as the import function in the Views module (found in your site at admin/structure/views/import) and the Bundle Copy module.

Please note that the backup and development environment capabilities built into the Stanford Sites service are limited — they are designed to meet basic site maintenance and development needs. A full development/stage/production workflow with continuous integration of code updates is not currently planned for Stanford Sites.

Also note that the development environment, https://sites-dev.stanford.edu, is a non-critical service and should be used for testing planned development only; it is not appropriate for hosting production (live) websites. As a non-critical environment, it may be taken offline for maintenance for brief periods without notice by University IT.

Get started

Note: If your site is using a Vanity URL (e.g., mysite.stanford.edu), you must first submit a HelpSU request to create a vanity URL for the development site (do not request the vanity URL using the standard virtual host form at tools.stanford.edu). Example text for request: “Please create a new virtual host, breakfastbriefings-dev.stanford.edu, to point to sites-dev.stanford.edu/breakfastbriefings.” After you receive an email confirming that the vanity URL has been created, proceed to follow the general instructions below.

In order to start using the Backup and Migrate features, you must first request the setup of a development version of your site. Visit sites.stanford.edu/drupal/admin, click the desired site's Edit Configuration button to view the Instance Information tab-screen, and then click the Create Dev Site button at the bottom of that screen (see screenshot below).

Opt-in on Stanford Sites admin page

Your development site should be ready within one hour — you will receive an email notification when the process completes.

Next Steps: Video tutorials

Note: The screencasts linked below demonstrate how to use Backup and Migrate in Drupal 7. The process for Drupal 6 is practically identical, except you will find the Backup and Migrate administrative screen in your Drupal site at admin/content/backup_migrate."

  Topic/Link Drupal Version Expertise Level Duration
 7 Doing More — Backup and Migrate, Part 1 7 and 6 (see note above) Intermediate 04:06
 8 Doing More — Backup and Migrate, Part 2 7 and 6 (see note above) Intermediate 04:08
Last modified April 21, 2017