SQL Server has many options to maintain a copy of your production database. It’s confusing to determine which method is best to use. Some of the possibilities: “log shipping”, “replication”, “mirroring”.
There’s an official best practices for the “mirroring” method at: Database Mirroring Best Practices and Performance Considerations. It looks like the mirroring feature was added in SQL Server 2005.
An article comparing “log shipping” to “replication” can be found at: http://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/Replication/logshippingvsreplication/1399/. This may have been written before the mirroring feature was available.