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Will your backups work if you have to restore them?

Wing Tip of Virgin Atlantic aircraftThere are a lot of myths surrounding data backups. Ones says that "the more often you take backup everything, the better it is", but actually that only applies to data that's changing. There is little point in wasting a lot of resources repeatedly backing up the same unchanging builds in /usr/local if you're in a stable web server environment where you web site content and MySQL databases are the critical data, with configuration files such as .htaccess being used for any minor tweaks the server needs on a per-directory basis.

But using a carefully structured backup strategy could lead to you missing out one critical element, so it's best to check out that your backups are good. How to do this?

Yesterday, I had an eight hour airline flight ... and I had with me a Linux / Fedora laptop and a "complete" set of structured backups from which a restore / rebuild of our web site should be possible. What better opportunity to spend a couple of hours (a.k.a. one battery laptop lifetime) checking that my backups really did work?

I'm pleased to report success; in the time I had, I stripped out delegate's builds of Apache httpd, PHP and MySQL from /usr/local, installed a fresh set using the distributions I had with me as part of the backups, restored the specific config files and then the websites including HTML, CGI, Database and ancillary directories from my backups. And (apart from accessing data from other servers such as the European Central Bank - not available in-flight!) it all worked.


A few more pictures

What we do in flight to USA I wasn't the only one working in flight ...


Wing and Engine - Virgin Atlantic An evening flight, the low sunlight over the wing ...


Night view from an aircraft ... and as we flew into the night, cities lay out below us.

(written 2008-09-18, updated 2008-09-22)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
A162 - Web Application Deployment - Backups and File System Management
  [4481] Extracting data from backups to restore selected rows from MySQL tables - (2015-05-01)
  [4405] Backup procedures - via backup server - (2015-01-24)
  [4400] Commenting out an echo killed my bash backup script - (2015-01-19)
  [4390] Checking MySQL database backups have worked (not failed) - (2015-01-10)
  [4115] More or less back - what happened to our server the other day - (2013-06-14)
  [4063] Backups by crossover between network centres - setting up automatic scp transfers - (2013-04-13)
  [4056] An overpractical test of our backup strategy! - (2013-03-30)
  [2299] How much space does my directory take - Linux - (2009-07-20)
  [1893] Some Linux and Unix tips - (2008-11-18)
  [1765] Dialects of English and Unix - (2008-08-21)
  [1648] The tourists guide to Linux - (2008-05-20)
  [1439] Linux / Unix - layout of operating system files - (2007-11-20)
  [1288] Linux run states, shell special commands, and directory structures - (2007-08-03)
  [1023] Finding public writeable things on your linux file system - (2007-01-06)
  [1013] Copy multiple files - confusing error message from cp - (2006-12-30)
  [754] tar, jar, war, ear, sar files - (2006-06-10)
  [735] Boys will be boys, saved by Ubuntu - (2006-05-27)
  [703] Copying files and preserving ownership - (2006-04-28)
  [593] Finding where the disc space has gone - (2006-02-06)
  [554] What backup is adequate? - (2006-01-04)
  [334] Symbolic links and hard links - (2005-06-02)
  [153] Linux - where to put swap space - (2004-12-16)


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