The Linode Backup Service

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The Linode Backup Service

The Linode Backup Service is a subscription service add-on that automatically performs daily, weekly, and biweekly backups of your Linode. It’s affordable, easy to use, and provides peace of mind. This guide explains how to enable and schedule your backups, make a manual backup snapshot, restore from a backup, and disable the Backup Service.

Pricing

Pricing is per Linode and varies depending upon your Linode’s plan. See the options on the pricing page under Backups.

Enable the Backup Service

Use the Linode Cloud Manager to enable the Backup Service on a Linode. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to the Linode Cloud Manager.

  2. From the Linodes page, select the Linode you want to back up.

  3. Click the Backups tab.

    Enable Linode Backups by navigating to to the individual Linode’s backup menu

  4. Click Enable Backups.

The Linode Backup Service is now enabled for the selected Linode.

Auto Enroll New Linodes in the Backup Service

You can automatically enroll all new Linodes in the Backup Service. To do so, click the Account link in the sidebar, then select the Global Settings tab.

In the Backup Auto Enrollment panel, click on the switch to enable backups on all new Linodes.

Auto enroll all new Linodes in the Backup Service by navigating to the Global Settings tab in the Account settings and enabling Backups.

Note
Enabling this setting does not retroactively enroll any previously created Linodes in the Backup Service.

Manage Backups

You’ll manage your backups with a simple web interface in the Linode Cloud Manager. There’s no software to install, and there are no commands to run. Just log in to the Linode Cloud Manager, navigate to the Linodes page by clicking on the link in the sidebar, select a Linode, and then click the Backups tab. The backups interface is shown below.

The Linode Backup Service interface

  1. A list of available backups. Listed in this view are the date created, the label, how long the backup took to be created, the disks imaged, and the size of the resulting image.

  2. Manually create a backup by taking a manual snapshot. For more information, see the Take a Manual Snapshot section.

  3. Configure backup schedule settings. For more information, see the Schedule Backups section.

  4. Cancel backups. After cancelling your backups you will have to wait 24 hours before you can re-enable them again.

How Linode Backups Work

Backups are stored on a separate system in the same data center as your Linode. The space required to store the backups is not subtracted from your storage space. You can store four backups of your Linode, three of which are automatically generated and rotated:

  • Daily backup: Automatically initiated daily within the backup window you select. Less than 24 hours old.
  • Current week’s backup: Automatically initiated weekly within the backup window, on the day you select. Less than 7 days old.
  • Last week’s backup: Automatically initiated weekly within the backup window, on the day you select. Between 8 and 14 days old.
  • Manual Snapshot: A user-initiated snapshot that stays the same until another snapshot is initiated.

The daily and weekly backups are automatically erased when a new backup is performed. The Linode Backup Service does not keep automated backups older than 14 days.

Schedule Backups

You can configure when automatic backups are initiated. Here’s how:

  1. From the Linodes page, select the Linode.

  2. Click the Backups tab.

  3. Under Settings, select a time interval from the Time of Day menu. The Linode Backup Service will generate all backups between these hours.

  4. Select a day from the Day of Week menu. This is the day whose backup will be promoted to the weekly slot. The back up will be performed within the time period you specified in step 3.

  5. Click Save Changes.

The Linode Backup Service will backup your Linode according to the schedule you specified.

Take a Manual Snapshot

You can make a manual backup of your Linode by taking a snapshot. Here’s how:

  1. From the Linodes page, select the Linode.

  2. Click the Backups tab.

  3. Under Manual Snapshot, give your snapshot a name and click Take Snapshot.

    Note
    Taking a new snapshot will overwrite a previously saved snapshot.

The Linode Backup Service initiates the manual snapshot. Creating the manual snapshot can take several minutes, depending on the size of your Linode and the amount of data you have stored on it. Other Linode Cloud Manager jobs for this Linode will not run until the snapshot job has been completed.

Restore from a Backup

This section shows how to restore a backup to a new Linode, or to an existing Linode.

Restore to a New Linode

These steps cover how to restore a backup to a new Linode that does not already have any disks deployed to it. The new Linode will be located in the same data center.

To restore a backup to a different data center, first restore to a Linode in the same data center, creating a new one if necessary. Once the restore is complete, use the Migrate Linode option from the Cloud Manager to migrate the new Linode to a new datacenter.

Restoring a backup will create a new configuration profile and a new set of disks on your Linode. The restore process does not restore single files or directories automatically. Restoring particular files can be done by completing a normal restore, copying the files off of the new disks, and then removing the disks afterward.

Note
The size of the disk(s) created by the restore process will be equal to the amount of space allocated to the disk when the backup was created. In some cases, this means you may want to to reallocate disk space once the restore is complete. For more information regarding this process, see our Disk Images and Configuration Profiles guide.
  1. From the Linodes page, select the Linode whose backups you intend to restore, and then click on the Backups tab. Select the more options ellipsis next to the backup you would like to restore, and click Deploy New Linode.

    Click on the ellipsis menu icon to restore to a new Linode

  2. You will be taken to the Create New Linode screen. The Create from Backup tab will already be selected for you, as will the fields corresponding to the Linode and backup that you are restoring from. Choose a Linode plan, enter a label for the new Linode, select any other options you prefer, and click Create. The new Linode will be created with the same password and SSH keys (if any) as the original.

    The backup disks and configuration profiles will be restored to the Linode you selected. Watch the notifications area for updates on the process. Restoring from a backup can take several minutes depending on the size of your Linode and the amount of data you have stored on it.

Restore to an Existing Linode

You can restore a backup to the Linode that the backup was created from. You can also restore to any other existing Linode in the same data center, even if the target does not have the Backup Service enabled. To restore a backup to an existing Linode, you will need to make sure that it has enough storage space that is not currently assigned to disk images.

To restore a backup to a different data center, first restore to a Linode in the same data center, creating a new one if necessary. Once the restore is complete, use the Migrate Linode option from the Cloud Manager to migrate the new Linode to a new datacenter.

Restoring a backup will create a new configuration profile and a new set of disks on your Linode. The restore process does not restore single files or directories automatically. Restoring particular files can be done by completing a normal restore, copying the files off of the new disks, and then removing the disks afterward.

Note
The size of the disk(s) created by the restore process will be equal to the amount of space allocated to the disk when the backup was created. In some cases, this means you may want to to reallocate disk space once the restore is complete. For more information regarding this process, see our Resizing a Disk guide.
  1. From the Linodes page, select the Linode whose backups you intend to restore, and then click on the Backups tab. Observe the size of the backup you would like to restore, which is visible in the Space Required column. You will need at least this amount of unallocated disk space on the target Linode to complete the restore.

  2. Select the more options ellipsis next to the backup you would like to restore, and click Restore to Existing Linode.

    Click on the ellipsis menu icon to restore to an existing Linode

  3. A menu will open with the Linodes that you can restore to. Select a Linode and click Restore.

    Select the Linode you would like to restore your backup to

    You will be notified if you do not have enough space on your Linode to restore your backup. Optionally, you can choose to overwrite the Linode you are restoring to.

  4. If the amount of unallocated space available is greater than the size of the backup, you can proceed with restoring. If the amount of unallocated space is less than the size of the backup, you can stop the restoration workflow, resize your existing disks on the target Linode to make room for it, and then come back to the restore page after the disk resize operation has finished.

    Note
    In some cases, you will not be able to shrink your disks enough to fit the restored backup. As an alternative, you can change your Linode’s plan to a higher tier that offers more disk space.
  5. From the Restore to Existing Linode menu, click Restore.

    Your backup will begin restoring to your Linode, and you can monitor its progress in the notifications area. Note that the time it takes to restore your backup will vary depending upon the restore size, and the number of files being restored.

    Note
    If you are attempting to restore a disk to the same Linode the backup was created from, the restoration process will not delete the original disk for you. Manually delete the original disk to make room for the backup, if desired.

Boot from a Backup

After the backup has been restored, the disks and configuration profiles will be available to the destination Linode you selected. Select the restored configuration profile and reboot your Linode to start up from the restored disks:

  1. From the Linodes page, select the Linode that you restored the backup to. Navigate to the Disks/Configs tab.

  2. Select the more options ellipsis next to the configuration profile that was restored and select Boot This Config.

    Navigate to the Configurations section of your Linode’s Disks/Configs tab

The Linode will start from the backup disks. Monitor the notifications area for progress.

Cancel the Backup Service

You can cancel the Backup Service at any time. From your Linode’s details page, choose the Backups tab and click the Cancel Backups link at the bottom of the page. Cancelling the service removes your saved backups from the Linode platform.

Caution

Cancelling your Backup Service irretrievably deletes all of your Linode’s Backups, including its manual Snapshot.

To preserve this data, you need to back up your data independently from the Backup Service before cancelling it. You may consult the suggestions in Backing Up Your Data for more information on how to do this.

Backup Troubleshooting

Linode Backup Disk Won’t Boot

If you are restoring a single backup disk to your Linode, then the new disk will have a different UUID than the original. When this happens, configuration files on the Linode may still be referencing the old UUID of the original disk, instead of the new one, causing boot issues. If this is the case, you will likely see errors related to the UUID in your console when booting in Rescue Mode:

ALERT!  UUID=xxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxx does not exist.  Dropping to a shell!

To fix this error, you will need to boot into Rescue Mode and edit your /etc/fstab file to account for the new UUID. This can be done in the following steps:

  1. Follow the instructions for Booting Into Rescue Mode using our Rescue and Rebuild guide. Once you have successfully completed step 4 in the section to Change Root, proceed to the next step.

  2. Enter the following command to obtain the UUID of your current disk:

     blkid
    

    Output will resemble the following:

    /dev/sda: UUID="ecfd4955-9ce6-44ad-a8e4-275d5ac13ffc" TYPE="ext4"
    Copy only the string surrounded by the quotation marks defining the UUID field in the output to use in the next step.

  3. You should now have access to your disk’s contents in the recovery environment. Check the contents of your /etc/fstab file for any entries pertaining to the UUID. This line may appear as follows:

    UUID=41c22818-fbad-4da6-8196-c816df0b7aa8  /disk2p2      ext3    defaults,errors=remount-ro 0       1
  4. Replace the string defining the UUID in the /etc/fstab file with the the UUID of the disk you copied from the output of the blkid command.

  5. After following all of the above steps, you should now be able to reboot your Linode normally.

Limitations

There are some limitations to what the Linode Backup Service can back up. Here are some things you should be aware of:

  • The Backup Service must be able to mount your disks. If you’ve created partitions, configured full disk encryption, or made other changes that prevent us from mounting the disk as a file system, you likely can not use the Linode Backup Service. The backup system operates at the file level, not at the block level.
  • Because the Backup Service is file-based, the number of files stored on disk impacts both the time it takes for backups and restores to complete, and your ability to successfully take and restore backups. Customers who need to permanently store a large number of files may want to archive bundles of smaller files into a single file, or consider other backup services.
Note
The percentage of customers who may run into this limitation is low. If you are not sure if this limitation applies to you, please contact Linode Support.
  • Backups taken of ext4 or ext3 filesystems are restored as ext4. Backups taken of other mountable file system types have their contents restored using ext4.
  • Restored backups will have a different UUID than the original disk.
  • Files that have been modified but have the same size and modify time are not be considered “changed” during a subsequent backup. ACLs and extended attributes are not tracked.
  • The Backup Service uses a snapshot of your disks to take consistent backups while your Linode is running. This method is very reliable, but can fail to properly back up the data files for database services like MySQL. If the snapshot occurs during a transaction, the database’s files may be backed up in an unclean state. We recommend scheduling routine dumps of your database to a file on the filesystem. The resulting file is then be backed up, allowing you to restore the contents of the database if you need to restore from a backup.

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