If you ever thought of backing up your data, you have probably heard of the terms “native database backups” and “snapshots”. In this blog post we will try to figure out the benefits and the drawbacks of using them.
What Are Native Database Backup Solutions?
Native database backup solutions are solutions implemented within the database. In other words, these are the “default” solutions - many databases incorporate some mechanism for performing backups, be it hot backups or some kinds of incremental backups of the database itself. Native backups often complete quickly and effectively and they usually include all database objects: tables, indexes etc. Such backups are frequently used to migrate databases between different servers and they can be used for a wide variety of different things including data ingestion, disaster recovery and so on.
What Are Snapshots?
A snapshot on the other hand essentially is a quick record of your data storage at a given moment. A snapshot is a copy of the data at the time you are doing the snapshot. That’s why snapshots can be very useful in certain situations, for example, when testing a feature in development. Snapshots then usually act as “failsafe” solutions: if something fails developers can simply rollback to a previous version. Snapshots can also be used to recover from cyber attacks: infected virtual machines can be reverted back to older snapshots which can be useful if you know that, for example, older snapshots are not affected by some kind of an issue.
Main Differences Between Native Backup Solutions and Snapshots
As already stated above, backups and snapshots are not the same. Backups are copies of your data (physical backups) or the commands to create your data (logical backups). Snapshots, as the name suggests, are copies of your storage at a certain point-in-time:
- Backups are copies of your data - snapshots are “pictures” of your server storage at a specific period of time.
- Backups can take a long time to complete - snapshots usually complete quicker.
- Backups usually only back up the data files - snapshots backup the files, software and settings.
- Backups can be stored in a different location - snapshots are usually stored in the same location as the original data.
- Backups are usually slower to restore than snapshots.
- Snapshots are not backups, but they can be used as a part of the backup process.
- Snapshots are features of the underlying storage infrastructure, which means that you can only restore it on similar infrastructure.
- Native database backups allow greater control on restoration, for instance, restoring from a point in time in the past, or restoring just one table that was dropped by mistake.
Managing Backups with Backup Ninja
As far as backups of databases and files are concerned, they can be easily managed with Backup Ninja. Backup Ninja offers the following features:
- Backup scheduling
- Backup monitoring
- Backup notifications
- Backup encryption
- Backup compression
- Cloud storage
- Retention management
- File name formatting
Backup Ninja also supports both database and file backups. If you want to back up your database, you have a couple of options:
- For MySQL, you can either use mysqldump or Percona XtraBackup (xtrabackup).
- For MariaDB, you can either use mysqldump or MariaDB Backup (mariabackup).
- For PostgreSQL or TimeScaleDB, you can use pg_dumpall or pg_basebackup.
- For MongoDB, you can use mongodump.
If you want to back up selected directories or files, you can use the file backup method.
For more information on available backup methods, take a look at Backup Ninja’s documentation.
Native backup solutions are usually used to migrate databases between different systems, they can also be used for other tasks such as data ingestion, disaster recovery and so on. Snapshots on the other hand are “pictures” of your server storage at a specific period of time. Both native backup solutions and snapshots have their use cases, so when deciding what to use, know their benefits and drawbacks and choose wisely. For more information on how these backups relate to Backup Ninja, have a look at Backup Ninja’s documentation.