The same tool as you have seen described several times in this book when discussing site templates and Web Parts can also be used for backup and restore procedures. It is a fast and "full-fidelity" procedure; that is, it will exactly restore the sites you backed up, including security settings and personal site views. This tool has some limitations and behaviors you must be aware of, such as:
It can back up and restore a complete farm, a single site collection, or a single site.
The result will be stored as a file. STSADM cannot write to other backup media.
It must be executed on the SharePoint server.
You must be a SharePoint server administrator to run STSADM.
This is a command-line tool. There is no graphical user interface included for this tool.
There is a free graphical interface for STSADM 2007; see the section "Tools for STSADM" later in this chapter.
This is the premier tool for all backup scenarios in SharePoint 2007, for both WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 installations. You should invest some time learning how to use this tool and make sure that you understand how to both back up and restore data. Since it has more than 170 operations (or commands), it is almost impossible to remember all the arguments each operation requires, but the tool referred to above will make it much easier.
STSADM.EXE is stored away deep down in the file system, or to be exact in this folder:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web ...