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How to configure backups to be able to restore an entire server or some part of the hosting?
Backups have two distinct purposes.
The primary purpose is to recover data after its loss, be it by data deletion or corruption.
The secondary purpose of backups is to recover data from an earlier time, according to a user-defined data retention policy.
Though backups popularly represent a simple form of disaster recovery, and should be part of a disaster recovery plan, by themselves, backups should not alone be considered disaster recovery . One reason for this is that not all backup systems or backup applications are able to reconstitute a computer system or other complex configurations such as a computer cluster, active directory servers, or a database server, by restoring only data from a backup.
Deciding what to back up
The backup task consists of two subtasks:
Server backup level
In this case the backup includes the entire server configuration/data including operating system files. With such a backup you will be able to restore the whole server in case it has been cracked or hacked or the hard drive failed.
Usually the full backup process requires more time and media than the partial backup process pointed to data backup only. Full backup takes more media to store backup files and longer time to perform backup operation. It may take longer time to restore backup as well.
The recovery process based on a full backup requires the following steps:
- Installation of the operating system
- Restoring the full backup
It is recommended to perform full backup of each server on a regular basis.
We assume, that you use a reliable storage place as a part of any solution deployment. It means that the data is stored either on a locally attached redundant array of independent disks (RAID) storage or on a highly reliable storage area network (SAN) with internal data management that is at least equivalent to RAID 1 reliability, so that no single hardware disk failure can make an unrecoverable data loss.
There are following approaches to have server backups:
1.1 To place Plesk server into a virtual container and to backup the whole container.
1.2 To using a fault tolerance cluster based on virtual servers.
1.3 To create consistent backups with LVM
1.4 It is also recommended to use RAID or even the combination with the previous methods to increase reliability of data backup
1.5 You can also consider some third party commercial proprietary solutions.
Plesk backup level
The backup includes only Plesk related data like web-sites content, mail-content, clients' databases, account settings. With Plesk server backup you always will be able to restore a particular reseller, a customer or a domain.
The recovery process of a partial backup requires one or more of the following steps: Installation of the operating system or kernel where the backup images can be restored to Restoring the system state of the operating system Installation of all applications not included in the operating system Installation of all applications, operating system updates and service packs not included to the backup set * Recovering numerous data types (for example, web content, databases, configuration files and so on)
There are following approaches to have Plesk server backups :
2.1. In Plesk Control Panel, go to Tools & Settings > Backup Manager
2.2. To use the Plesk Mass Transfer Script (formerly Mass Migration Script) which is designed to allow providers transferring accounts from one Plesk farm to another one by an automated way.
Basically you do not need to move and restore Plesk-related data on the different server if you already have server level backup. Plesk backup does not replace server backup since the Plesk backup creation and restoration consume a lot of time if you have a lot of domains and data. The purpose of Plesk backup is to restore some part of hosting or to migrate data to another server (when the time of the process is not critical). Usually Plesk backup is not used to save all hosting data.
We can also recommend you to store the backup files on a locally attached storage of a server where the backup process is performed. It will significantly save the time required for backup procedure that means the effect on related customer services will be reduced to a minimum. Later you will be able to move the backup files to any storage device you want.
The frequency of the backup operations depends on your provisioning activity and on the details of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with your customers.