Recent Admin Backup Tidbits – Part 1

By | August 14, 2008

Continuing our earlier advice to take backups frequently, and secure them offsite – thought we’d highlight a few recent administrator related things added to ZCS that you might not have noticed.

Zbackups
 Network Edition Backup Enhancements

 

Speaking of backups, there are some new ways to take them in ZCS 5.0.x. With ever larger quota usage, full backups can often take a while to run, and even incrementals which process the redologs may still be one heck of a job when you’re talking thousands or millions of accounts. Having trouble completing that entire full backup during off-hours? Enter the hybrid auto-grouped mode, which combines the concept of full and incremental backup functions – you’re completely backing up a target number of accounts daily rather than running incremental sessions. As a plus it automatically pulls in the redologs since the last run so you get incremental backups of the remaining accounts; although the incremental accounts captured via the redologs are not listed specifically in the backup account list. Think of auto-grouped mode as a full backup for the scheduled group as well as an incremental (via redologs) for the all other accounts at the same time. This allows you to do a point in time restore for any account. Simply divide your total accounts by the number of groups you choose (zimbraBackupAutoGroupedNumGroups is 7 by default) and that’s how many will get a full backup session each night. Newly provisioned accounts, and accounts whose last backup is a specified number of days older are picked first. (zimbraBackupAutoGroupedInterval is defaulted to 1d)

To save space, and therefore store older backups longer or run them more frequently, you can also auto-compress them with the –zip argument. This isn’t new, but it got improved handling of shared blobs in 5.0.5 as well as a -zipStore mode for speed. You can also adjust the buffer & queue capacity of the backup process, as well as additional options like the level of compression, or the number of archives per person via the backup_zip_copier_private_blob_zips localconfig attribute. Of course you lose the hard linking optimization (speed and space) for blobs that are in an earlier full backup already when working from the same disk – so it’s more advantageous for those off-site single-copies (you do make one often right?). However, there are legitimate uses for running it on your normal backups: Fewer files make it easier to copy or rsync later, and prevents you from running out of inodes. You can also easily delete individual backups rather than running zmbackup -del, and therefore keep just a few really old backups around for whatever compliance reasons you may have.

By-the-way, ZCS 5.0.6 added the ability to easily replay redologs from an arbitrary point in time with zmplayredo should you be in a unique situation that needs it. (Say you’ve been taking snapshot backups and but then need to restore, and you’ve also saved all the redologs since the snapshot. Or you take a snapshot, then manually copy redologs from the live system to bring the snapshot copy up to current. This allows you to force replay of them all and not just the uncommitted transactions.)

We’ve always recommended that: “After upgrade, you should run a full backup immediately as changes in this release invalidate all old backups.” It’s still good advice to have a fresh full, but there’s always the infrequent need to get data from an older minor version backup without throwing up a temporary machine. Well, with 5.0.x we aimed to make restores compatible across patch releases (i.e. an older 5.0.x backup, not a prior 4.5.x backup – major version restore is this RFE). There was a bug about zmrestore not handling database schema changes, but that’s fixed in 5.0.5 and later – so backwards compatibility for restore is now theoretically possible. And we’re also looking to put icing on the cake by adding a conversion tool to upgrade backups themselves to allow restore on later ZCS versions.

 


You can find help on backups via Support Channels, over in the Community Forums, or ask us a question on them below. Stay tuned, as Part 2 will cover tidbits for all editions.


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