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  • Was is the operating environment?
  • How large of a dataset?
  • Are offline backups acceptable?
  • Is point-in-time restoration a requirement?
  • What storage engine?

CONTEXT: Want to ask how to do MySQL backups on CentOS, but want to make sure I understand what I should be asking first. If you have any questions, just ask -- thanks!!

UPDATE: Just a note to say thanks for ALL the great input so far, really glad I asked. Again, thanks!!

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think in your examples you should ask the business type question (i.e. is point-in-time recovery needed - but in business speak) but not the others which are technical and should be figured out later once the business needs are clear.

Managers may well then ask how much more PIT recovery would cost. On investigation you will probabably find it is not that much more expensive nowadays.

Also as well as the other very good answers already:


How long should long term backups be kept? For example in your country there might be a law that financial data be kept for a certain number of years. Or conversely there could be a law that transitory personal data be deleted after a certain number of years. This should be in the SLA mentioned by Tom.

If you are required to take very long term backups you also need to consider how to get the information back again if the metadata (sorry I do not know MS SQL so not sure if it is called a schema there) has changed in the meantime. Therefore you may want to long term back up the schema or perhaps take occasional exports as well as backups.


Get a disaster recover exercise put in the plan at an early stage otherwise management may not include it in the budget. You may find you need both onsite backups (for quick recovery as in most cases it will not be a complete disaster) and offsite (for disaster recovery in case the whole site is unavailable).

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  • What is the budget we can spend on?
  • What is the acceptable downtime?
  • Where will the backups be located?
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@adamo: Thanks for posting, I'll select an answer in the next 24-72 hours. Cheers! – blunders Oct 16 '10 at 14:12


  • How long do I have to take the backups
  • How long do I have to restore the backups

Coupled with the size of the dataset that'll give you the minimum transfer speed you need, which should help you identify how you have to back it up.

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What are the service level agreements for downtime. The only reason to backup is to recover so make sure you understand the recovery requirements before you plan backup.

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