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Snapshot-based physical backups

Version added: 2.2.0


  1. This is a technical preview feature.
  2. Supported only for full physical backups
  3. Available only if you run Percona Server for MongoDB in your environment as PBM uses the $backupCursor and $backupCursorExtended aggregation stages.

While a physical backup is a physical copy of your data directory, a snapshot is a point in time copy of your disk or a volume where the data files are stored. Restoring from snapshots is much faster and allows almost immediate access to data, while the database is unavailable during physical restore. Snapshot-based backups are especially useful for owners of large data sets with terabytes of data. Yet the snapshots don’t guarantee data consistency in sharded clusters.

This is where Percona Backup for MongoDB steps in. It provides the interface to make snapshot-based physical backups and restores and ensures data consistency. As a result, database owners benefit from increased performance and reduced downtime, and are sure that their data remains consistent.

The snapshot-based physical backup / restore flow consists of three distinct stages:

  • Preparing the database — done by PBM
  • Copying files — done by the user / client app
  • Completing the backup / restore — done by PBM.

This is the first stage of the snapshot-based backups where you can make them manually. Automated snapshot-based backups are planned for the future.

Make a backup

  1. Refer to the Before you start section and make sure that you have made all the preparation steps for the backup.

  2. To make a snapshot-based backup, run the pbm backup command with the type external:

    $ pbm backup -t external 

    When executing the command, PBM does the following:

    • opens the $backupCursor
    • prepares the database for file copy
    • stores the backup metadata on the storage and adds it to the files to copy
    • prints the prompt similar to the following:
    Ready to copy data from:

    You also see the backup name.

  3. (Optional) You can check the backup progress with the pbm describe-backup. The command output provides the backup state and what nodes are running backup.

  4. At this stage, you can copy the dataDir contents to the storage / make a snapshot using the technology of your choice.

  5. After the file copy, run the following command to close the $backupCursor and complete the backup:

    $ pbm backup-finish <backup_name>

Restore a backup

Before you start:

  1. Shut down all mongos nodes. If you have set up the automatic restart of the database, disable it.
  2. Stop the arbiter nodes manually since there’s no pbm-agent on these nodes to do that automatically.

Restore from a backup made through PBM

The following procedure describes the restore from backups made through PBM. See Restore from a backup made outside PBM for how to restore from a backup made outside of PBM.

  1. To make a restore, run the following command:

    $ pbm restore --external 

    Percona Backup for MongoDB stops the database, cleans up data directories on all nodes, provides the restore name and prompts you to copy the data:

    Starting restore <restore_name> from '[external]'.................................................................................................................................Ready to copy data to the nodes data directory.
        After the copy is done, run: pbm restore-finish <restore_name> -c </path/to/pbm.conf.yaml>
        Check restore status with: pbm describe-restore <restore_name> -c </path/to/pbm.conf.yaml>
        No other pbm command is available while the restore is running!
  2. Copy the data. While a backup is made from a single node of a replica set, for the restore you must copy the data on every node of a corresponding replica set in a cluster. For example, copy files from a backup for a replica set rs1 to all nodes in rs1 in the target cluster and so on.

  3. After you copied the files to the nodes, complete the restore with the following command:

    $ pbm restore-finish <restore_name> -c </path/to/pbm-conf.yaml>

    At this stage, Percona Backup for MongoDB reads the metadata from the backup, prepares the data for the cluster / replica set start and ensures its consistency. The database is restored to the timestamp specified in the restore_to_time of the metadata.

  4. Optional. You can track the restore progress by running the pbm describe-restore command.

Post-restore steps

After the restore is complete, do the following:

  1. Start all mongod nodes

  2. Start all pbm-agents

  3. Run the following command to resync the backup list with the storage:

    $ pbm config --force-resync
  4. Start the balancer and start mongos nodes.

  5. Make a fresh backup to serve as the new base for future restores.

Restore form a backup made outside PBM


For external backups made through PBM, PBM performs compatibility checks for the backup and the target cluster. If you restore the backup made outside PBM, it cannot ensure that the backup was made properly and in a consistent manner. Therefore, the backup compatibility is your responsibility.

To restore an external backup made outside PBM, you need to specify the following for the pbm restore command:

  • a path to the configuration file of the mongod node on the source cluster from where the backup was made. This is the configuration file that PBM uses during the restore. It should contain the storage options per replica set name, for example:
        directoryPerDB: true
        directoryPerDB: true

To restore the data encrypted at rest, make sure data-at-rest encryption settings on the source and target clusters are the same.

  • a timestamp to restore to

To restore from a backup, do the following:

  1. Start a restore

    $ pbm restore --external -c </path/to/mongod.conf> --ts 

    If the path to the source cluster mongod.conf is undefined, PBM tries to retrieve the required configuration options from the mongod.conf of the target cluster.

    If the timestamp to restore to is undefined, PBM looks into the actual data during the restore and defines the most recent common cluster time across all shards. PBM restores the database up to this time.

  2. Next, copy the data files. Note that you must copy the data on every data-bearing node of your cluster / replica set.

  3. Complete the restore by running:

    $ pbm restore-finish <restore_name> -c </path/to/pbm.conf.yaml>

    At this stage, Percona Backup for MongoDB prepares the data for the cluster / replica set start and ensures its consistency.

  4. Don’t forget to complete the post-restore steps

Get expert help

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Last update: December 8, 2023
Created: December 8, 2023