One of my new years resolutions is to implement more backup systems to protect my critical data. I decided to kick things off by improving the robustness of the backup system for my website.
Linode, the company which hosts my domain, has been tempting me with their backup offering so I decided to give it a try. They claim their offering is a fully automated solution that “just works”.
The price for their service is pretty cheap compared to some of the other options available. The monthly cost is based on the size of your Linode. Since I’m using a 512Mb node my monthly cost for using the service is only $5!
- Linode 512 -$5.00/month
- Linode 768 – $7.50/month
- Linode 1024 – $10.00/month
- Linode 1536 – $15.00/month
- Linode 2048 – $20.00/month
- Linode 4096 – $40.00/month
Benefits and Drawbacks
Linode’s backup system has several great benefits but there are a few drawbacks you should be aware of. Most importantly you should take into account that this solution does not offer geographic diversity.
- Very easy to setup
- Low cost (Especially for small nodes)
- Backups and restores run quickly
- Storage system utilizes RAID
- Backups can be restored to any Linode on the account
- Backup server is located in the same data center as your Linode (Potentially the same cabinet)
- Backups run at the file level (Not block level)
- Encrypted disks and non standard partitions are not supported
How to Enable the Service
The backup service can be enabled from within the Linode Manager.
- Click on the Linode you want to enable backups for.
- Click on the Backups tab from the menu options.
- Click the button labeled “Enable backups for this Linode”
On the next screen you’ll be able to confirm the monthly rate for the service. Partial months of the service are automatically pro-rated and added to the total. Click on ‘Complete Order’ to place the order for the service.
Configuring the Options
After the service has been enabled for your account you’ll have new options available in the backup menu for your Linode. There isn’t much you’ll need to worry about configuring besides the window the backups will run in.
I decided to set mine to run between 2 – 4am to avoid any potential impact on server performance during peak times. The backup is able to run while the Linode is running so the impact, if any, should be minimal. The time window you set applies to both the daily and weekly backups.
Creating Manual Snapshots
One of the features I like best about the Linode backup service is the ability to create an on demand snapshot of the Linode at any time. The manual snapshot feature is nice for creating a quick backup before doing any major work or upgrades on your server.
The downside of the feature is that you can only store a single snapshot at a time. Each time you create a new snapshot the previous one is overwritten.
It only took about 6 minutes to create a snapshot of my Ubuntu Linode which seems pretty fast.
Restoring from a backup or snap shot is very easy to do, essentially it’s just a point and click operation. Backups can easily be restored to any Linode on your account. You can restore to the same Linode assuming you have enough free disk space available.
If you’re like me and allocated all of the available disk space on your node to your operating system then you can’t perform a restore without resizing the disks. My snapshot was about 6.4Gb in size so it was pretty easy to reclaim enough space on my node to hold the restore.
My Impressions of the Service
Overall I really like the backup service that Linode offers but I don’t plan to rely on it for 100% of my backups. I plan to use their service as the first layer in a two part backup solution.
My reason for choosing the service as a first line of defense is based on two reasons.
- Easy of Use – The service is very easy to use and it’s fully automated. If anything goes wrong I can simply open a support ticket and get assistance with backups and restores.
- Speed – Backups and restores run very fast. If I need to restore my server I can do so within minutes.
I wouldn’t recommend that anyone rely exclusively on this service for backups though. Since the backups are stored in the same datacenter it offers zero protection from a disaster effecting the hosting facility itself.
Finally, if Linode were to suddenly close it’s doors I would lose access to all of my data. To work around these drawbacks I’m using Duplicity to backup to Amazon S3 cloud storage.