Introduction to Zmanda Backup and Recovery Solutions

How to Back Up a Linux Server for System Admins

Backing up a Linux server can have its ups and downs; figuratively and literally. In the past few years, the expectation has been that you need lots of manpower, free storage, and patience. It can feel complex since Linux is still a predominantly a command-line operating system.

But is that still the case in 2020? Here at Zmanda, we would like to think not.

Why is there so much talk around backing up Linux servers anyway?

Before answering this question, we have to understand server-class machines.

High-Performance Server Class Machines

Server class machines are a breed apart and are something most System Admins are eager to get their hands on. The sheer reliability, speed, and I/O Ops is something that is eagerly sought out. You might even say it’s on the wish list of System Admin’s when looking for a backup solution.

As we all know, a System Admin’s work depends on high availability and high reliability of infrastructure. In addition to the features of server-class machines, their backup strategy also needs to provide the utmost prominence and foolproof solutions.

Server boxes are broadly classified into Windows machines and Unix Servers.

Windows Server includes: Windows Server 2003 (April 2003), Windows Server 2008 (February 2008), Windows Server 2012 (September 2012), Windows Server 2016 (September 2016) Windows Server 2019 (October 2018).

When it comes to the other side, there are almost six hundred Linux distributions, with close to five hundred out of those in active development. There are commercially backed distributions, such as Fedora (Red Hat), openSUSE (SUSE), and Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.), and entirely community-driven open-source distributions, such as Debian, Slackware, Gentoo, and Arch Linux.

Today, we will be looking at only Unix OS.

Types of Linux Servers

There are 3 types of Linux servers:

  • Linux File Server
  • Linux Web Server
  • Linux Database Server

If you look at any organization or an application framework, it usually is a three-tier application. A front end UI app (like google or yahoo web pages), is hosted on middleware like (Tomcat or a Websphere Application server) and the data generated, is stored in a Database Server (MySQL/ Mongo DB).

Files and images that need constant changes and retrievals are stored on a shared drive, like samba or NFS Storage. These files are usually hosted on another Linux Server as a file-system. This helps in quick retrievals and file consumption for the end-user.

On each of these servers, the amount of data stored and needed for business-critical functionality is vast. Imagine if you’re a part of the IT department of a financial organization and the infrastructure was penetrated due to a vulnerability of a firewall leak and the entire system was scrubbed. The loss could break the organization instantly and be chaotic for the IT department.

Types of Backups That Can Be Done on the Linux Server

The types of backup can be broadly classified into two sections:

  • File System backup using Command line tool r-sync
  • System backup using backup software like Zmanda

On command-line backup, the most common and easiest is the r-sync command. This is by far most preferred by System Admins.

How to Backup Your Entire Linux System Using Rsync

First, insert your backup medium (USB thumb drive or external hard disk). Then find the drive letter using ‘fdisk -l’ command.

$ sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt

My drive is detected at /dev/sdb1 and is mount point is /mnt

To back up the entire system, all you have to do is open your Terminal and run the following command as the root user:

$ sudo rsync -aAXv / –exclude={“/dev/*”,”/proc/*”,”/sys/*”,”/tmp/*”,”/run/*”,”/mnt/*”,”/media/*”,”/lost+found”} /mnt

This command will backup the entire root ( / ) directory, excluding /dev, /proc, /sys, /tmp, /run, /mnt, /media, /lost+found directories, and save the data in /mnt folder.

You can alternatively explore the tar command options

tar cvzf /media/your_harddisk/backup.tar.gz /

Where the “your_harddisk” is the label or name of your hard disk.

The command will back up entire filesystems in the Linux machine, creating a gzip type of compression.

How to Restore Your Backups

# tar -xvpf /media/your_harddisk/backup.tar.gz

Alternatively, the second method uses backup solutions. This can help in securing backup and restore operations.

These back-up and restore solutions readily help store and restore operations.

Bottlenecks System Admins Can Run Into While Backing Up and Restoring

If we take a look at the solutions, we have both the command line and backup software, which can be used to back up the filesystem.

But is it completely fool-proof? 

Most time, the reality is far too different from the expected behavior.

  • The disks used in the backup may be corrupt.
  • The filesystem used between the source and the destination may be different.
  • The backup may have incurred a Read-Write I/O errors, which could have lost some data.
  • The data backed up may not have been at the appropriate time.
  • The commands used may not have completed the backup.
  • The storage used may get damaged during transit and hence failing the restore process.

Understanding these bottlenecks beforehand can be the difference between a successful backup and restore strategy and a completely failed one.

Also, be sure to check out 10 Points to Include in Your Disaster Recovery Plan

How To | Reset Your Zmanda Admin Password

This document will help you to reset your Zmanda admin user password for the Zmanda management console.

Amanda Enterprise (AE) is one of the products of Zmanda. It facilitates the backup of File Systems, Databases, and Applications. It is essential that a Zmanda Management Console user has Admin credentials to use Amanda Enterprise. The definition of Administrator Access; it is a level of access above that of a normal user. Zmanda Management Console is a web application that supports Amanda Enterprise on the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome.

Find the downloadable PDF guide here. 

  • If you do not remember the password, please click “Can’t access your account?” link in Zmanda Console. You will see the following screen

ZMC Login - Can't Access Your Account

  • Next, enter ZMC user name in the Lost Password section and select the option “Create and Email New Password”

ZMC - Create New Email and Password

This will generate a temporary password and it will be e-mailed to the mailing address registered to the ZMC user account. Please note that the email service should be configured on the Amanda backup server to receive the lost password email.

  • If the EMAIL service is not configured on the Amanda backup server, a password reset can be performed in the CLI by using the below command.

#sh /opt/zmanda/amanda/bin/

Then the admin password will be reset to “admin”.

Please follow the above steps to reset the admin user password in Zmanda Management Console. In case you are stuck while backing up and restoring the DFS, kindly contact our team, and we will get back to you soon.

You can reach us at or give us a call at 888-496-2632 (U.S.) or 408-732-3208 (INTL).

Find the downloadable PDF guide here.

Types of Snapshot Backups Supported by ZRM

The storage snapshot is a new adoption by IT industries in this data center-powered world of virtualization and the cloud. You can add backup, replication, and recovery to that list as well.

A set of reference markers for data at a particular point in time is called a storage snapshot. Storage snapshots are excellent tools for a system administrator to create quick and consistent backups of their databases and applications.

A snapshot is nothing but a “picture” of a filesystem at a point-in-time. This “picture” is not a full copy of the data, but a set of pointers to the data. A snapshot provides the user with accessible copies of data that they can roll back to; just like a detailed table of contents.

Zmanda Recovery Manager (ZRM) for MySQL is an easy-to-use, yet flexible and robust backup and recovery solution for MySQL servers. It streamlines the life of a Database Administrator.  To acquire a quiescent, consistent copy of the MySQL database, ZRM for MySQL uses various third party snapshots and storage checkpoint mechanisms, while minimizing application downtime.

Snapshots and storage checkpoints scale well when compared to other backup methods, as they create a regular reproduction of the MySQL database with little impact on MySQL applications and do not increase the backup window as databases grow.

The snapshot and storage checkpoint mechanisms are faster when compared to backups to other media; this reduces the time that database tables must be locked. In the case of the MySQL databases or tables using only transactional storage engines, such as InnoDB, the time when the application is locked is further reduced.

Also, during the taking of snapshots of databases or tables that use non-transactional storage engines, such as MyISAM, ZRM for MySQL flushes the database pages to the disk and obtains a read lock on the database(s) / table(s).

The read lock is held only for a moment. When the database resides on the file systems that support freeze/thaw operations such as XFS, VxFS (Veritas file systems), file system I/O (Input/ Output) is stopped before taking a snapshot.

The “snapshot type” as the full backup method are configured in the Backup How page. Only the licensed snapshots appear in the drop-down box.

Let’s have a look at the list of current industry-leading snapshot technologies:

Linux Logical Volume Manager Snapshots

A snapshot capability built into the Linux Volume Manager (LVM) – the default option on a Linux system.

LVM is a way of virtually partitioning a hard disk space such that it is flexibly allocated to various applications. An increasing number of MySQL installations are utilizing it.

ZRM for MySQL helps backup such installations using snapshots (a feature license is required). It is capable of creating temporary snapshots of the logical volumes and use the snapshot volume to do backups. The benefit of using snapshots is that you need to lock the database tables only while creating a snapshot. Once the backups are completed, the snapshots are removed. Snapshots help to create a consistent copy of the MySQL database as the consistency is ensured prior to taking a snapshot.

File system activity is stopped on file systems such as XFS, VxFS (Veritas file systems) that support freeze/thaw operations, before taking a snapshot.

ZFS Snapshots

Snapshot capability built into the ZFS filesystem on Solaris and OpenSolaris

Solaris ZFS filesystem from Sun Microsystem includes snapshot capability, which enables near-instantaneous hot backups and rapid restores.

ZRM for MySQL also includes an optional snapshot plugin that integrates with ZFS to create consistent MySQL full backups. It creates temporary snapshots of the ZFS volumes to perform a full backup. Once the snapshots are enabled, ZRM for MySQL can perform backups without impacting MySQL applications. Regardless of database size, database writes will be blocked only during snapshot creation, which typically takes less than a second.

NetApp Snapshots

A feature of the WAFL® (Write Anywhere File Layout) filesystem.

Windows VSS

Volume Shadow Copy Service from Microsoft introduced in Windows Server 2003. VSS is also available with Windows XP, Vista, and 2008 Server.

VxFS Snapshots

Snapshot capability built into the Veritas File System

During backup runs Symantec Veritas file systems (a.k.a VxFSs) allows two technologies to minimize application downtime:

  1. Snapshot devices- They mirror the primary storage and allow “freezing” for backup while the original data stays live.
  2. Storage checkpoints- They use the same filesystem volumes as to the original to only mirror changed data.

Additionally, ZRM for MySQL includes an optional VxFS plugin that integrates with the Veritas File System to leverage native Storage Checkpoint capability.

EMC SnapView

Snapshot capability on the EMC CLARiiON storage systems

EMC Clariion Storage features EMC SnapView, a snapshot technology that eases near-instantaneous hot backups and rapid restores.

ZRM for MySQL comprises of an optional snapshot plugin that integrates with EMC SnapView to create consistent MySQL full backups. It creates temporary snapshots of the EMC SnapView volumes to perform a full backup. Once the snapshots are enabled, ZRM for MySQL performs backups with minimal impact on MySQL applications. During the snapshot creation database, writes will be blocked, which typically takes less than a second regardless of database size.

IBM FlashCopy

A feature is available in the IBM Storage Subsystems (DS8000, DS6000, ESS 800, SAN VC).

EqualLogic Smart Copy

A feature in the Dell EqualLogic PS Series.

Our ZRM for MySQL, a product of Zmanda, uses storage snapshots as one of the technologies to do a quick full backup of the MySQL database. We currently support LVM, ZFS, NetApp, VSS and VxFS Snapshots. We have more to come!


Also, be sure to check out 10 Points to Include in Your Disaster Recovery Plan

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