I have a VPS on Digitalocean. They do provide 2 ways of backup (snapshots and "regular backups"), but neither of them can be downloaded from them.

My goal is to find a reasonably universal way to back up everything at once. (including system files/settings, etc.)

I have 1 idea currently — to download everything via rsync. With a command like this:

rsync -aHz --exclude=swapfile root@MY_HOST_ADDRESS:/ SOME_LOCAL_FOLDER

I think, root should have read access to all stuff, right?

Am I missing something critical with this approach? And what could be a better way?

NB: The server is running Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS (GNU/Linux 3.13.0-62-generic x86_64)

My home computer is running OS X, although it's not a problem to use a VM with whatever OS and software, as long as it's free.


the idea does not work in practice, even if I exclude folders like /proc, /boot, /mnt, /sys, /dev — after restoring the backup to new droplet it's no longer able to correctly boot.

  • Can you access the backups from the VPS (to extract only one file from the backup, which might be a reasonable question to ask the provider)? Maybe via a local ftp connection or something? if so, you can download via the VPS. – Silent-Bob Oct 19 '15 at 8:50
  • From what I understand (or guess), the backups done by Digitalocean are external to the VPS. Something like "Snapshot" feature in VirtualBox, for example. I do not know why are they not letting the customers download them… – Display Name Oct 19 '15 at 9:06
  • how do you plan to restore your databases once you retrieve all your files from the server? – the_velour_fog Oct 19 '15 at 10:33
  • @user4668401 I think, revert to a "clean installation" of that Ubuntu version and then use rsync to overwrite all differing files with the files from the backup – Display Name Oct 19 '15 at 10:35
  • I am not using any DBs which do raw disk access (ignoring file system) – Display Name Oct 19 '15 at 10:36

Have you thought but doing this a different way ? Use a configuration management system to do the system configuration and then just backup the user data ?

Doing it this way allows you to quickly deploy consistent VMs and reduces the size of your backups.

Once you are only backing up user data then rsync is a good tool to use.

  • Yes, that's also an option in theory, but (if I understood correctly) I'd have to pay for more RAM. (because running a VM is additional overhead) – Display Name Oct 19 '15 at 12:08
  • I don't think you have the faintest clue what you are talking about. – user9517 Oct 19 '15 at 12:09
  • sure, that's hard to understand if I never heard about configuration management software (although I did use Vagrant and know what it does). I'll try to read and understand something… – Display Name Oct 19 '15 at 12:19

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