Making Sense of Your Plesk Backup

Making Sense of Your Plesk Backup
This article serves as an informational guide to the internals of a backup made through your Plesk Control Panel.  It is recommended to restore the backup through your control panel if needed, however you may find yourself in a situation where this is not available, or if you wish to restore certain portions of the backup locally.
The backup archive contains multiple archives within it, each one containing a portion of the overall backup content.  You may only see some of the follow directories depending on the type of backup which was taken.  This guide will assume you took a full site backup (Domain configuration and content.)
 The backup archive is broken down as follows:

-- backup_[domain]_info_[timestamp].xml
------ databases
------------ Database Name #1
------------------- backup_[database_name]_db_[timestamp].xml
------------------- backup_[database_name]_db_[timestamp].zip
--------------------------- tmp#####.tmp
------ backup_[domain]_attaches_[timestamp].zip
------------ mailuser1@[domain]
------ backup_[domain]_domainmail_[timestamp].zip
------------ MailMigrator.xml
------------ mailuser1@[domain]
------------------- Msg#.msg
------ backup_[domain]_errdocscfg_[timestamp].zip
------------ tmp#####.tmp
------ backup_[domain]_vdir_[timestamp].zip
------------ tmp#####.tmp
------ backup_[domain]_vhost_[timestamp].zip
------------ [site files]
Now we will take a deeper look into the follow sections: Mail, Databases, Site Files, and Domain Configuration
Site Files
     To extract the site files from your Plesk Backup, you will need to look in the directory backup_[domain]_vhost_[timestamp].zip.  The folder structure within this archive is exactly as you would see it if you were to FTP into your site.  Any subdomains will be located on this level unless you specified them else where, and your site files will be located in the httpdocs directory.
    The databases of the backup will be located in the databases directory.  Within this directory you will find a directory for each of your databases with the name of your database, and within each of those directories will be a zipped archive of the database as well as an XML configuration file.  The XML file contains configuration information of your database and zip archive will be the actual database backup.  You'll notice that Plesk zips the database as a .TMP file.  To make the backup usable, please follow the steps below.
  1. Ensure the overall backup has been unzipped.
  2. Navigate to your database backup under databases > [database name] > backup_[database name]_db_[timestamp].zip and extract the .TMP file.
  3. You will need to give the .TMP file an appropriate file extension for your backup.  If the database is a MySQL backup, you will give it the .sql extension.  If the backup type is MSSQL, you will give it a .bak extension.
    Plesk encodes its mail message backups and you may not be able to upload these to other mail services other than SmarterMail.  It is advised to use Mail Transfer to move your mail elsewhere.
    The mail portion of the backup is located within the following directories:
  • backup_[domain]_attaches_[timestamp].zip
  • backup_[domain]_domainmail_[timestamp].zip
    Within each of these archives your mail will be sorted by email user with the respective directories being titled the name of each account.  Any attachments you have received with your mail will be stored in the directory backup_[domain]_attaches_[timestamp].zip.  Actual mail messages will be stored in backup_[domain]_domainmail_[timestamp].zip.  Every email will receive a number and then stored in a file as #.msg.  
These files are unfortunately encoded and you may not be able to restore these files to a different mail server other than SmarterMail.  If you are needing to move your mail to another service, it is recommended to use the Mail Transfer utility.
Domain Configuration
    Your Plesk backup will also contain configuration about how your site is configured in the environment.  This will include settings such as FTP users, Scripting settings, IP addresses, and anything related to the environment itself.  It is not recommended to make changes to these settings, nor is it supported by  The Plesk configuration will be found in the following directories:
  • backup_[domain]_errdocscfg_[timestamp].zip
  • backup_[domain]_vdir_[timestamp].zip
  • backup_[domain]_info_[timestamp].xml
A large majority of the configuration will be found in backup_[domain]_info_[timestamp].xml found within the root of the backup.  Scripting Options and other virtual directory options, read httpdocs settings, will be found within the directory backup_[domain]_vdir_[timestamp].zip.  

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