Creating hard-link local backups

You can use the hardLinkLocal option to create a full or object-level backup with hard file links on a local database host.

You can use the hardLinkLocal option to create a full or object-level backup with hard file links on a local database host.

Creating hard-link local backups can provide the following advantages over a remote host backup:

  • Speed: A hard-link local backup is significantly faster than a remote host backup. When backing up, vbr does not copy files if the backup directory exists on the same file system as the database directory.

  • Reduced network activities: The hard-link local backup minimizes network load because it does not require rsync to copy files to a remote backup host.

  • Less disk space: The backup includes a copy of the catalog and hard file links. Therefore, the local backup uses significantly less disk space than a backup with copies of database data files. However, a hard-link local backup saves a full copy of the catalog each time you run vbr. Thus, the disk size increases with the catalog size over time.

Hard-link local backups can help you during experimental designs and development cycles. Database designers and developers can create hard-link local object backups of schemas and tables on a regular schedule during design and development phases. If any new developments are unsuccessful, developers can restore one or more objects from the backup.

If you plan to use hard-link local backups as a standard site procedure, design your database and hardware configuration appropriately. Consider storing all of the data files on one file system per node. Such a configuration has the advantage of being set up automatically for hard-link local backups.

Specifying backup directory locations

The backupDir parameter of the configuration file specifies the location of the top-level backup directory. Hard-link local backups require that the backup directory be located on the same Linux file system as the database data. The Linux operating system cannot create hard file links to another file system.

Do not create the hard-link local backup directory in a database data storage location. For example, as a best practice, the database data directory should not be at the top level of the file system, as it is in the following example:


Instead, Vertica recommends adding another subdirectory for data above the database level, such as in this example:


You can then create the hard-link local backups subdirectory as a peer of the data directory you just created, such as in this example:


When you specify the hard-link backup location, be sure to avoid these common errors when adding the hardLinkLocal=True parameter to the configuration file:

If ... Then... Solution
You specify a backup directory on a different node vbr issues an error message and aborts the backup. Change the configuration file to include a backup directory on the same host and file system as the database files. Then, run vbr again.
You specify a backup location on the same node, but a backup destination directory on a different file system from the database and catalog files. vbr issues a warning message and performs the backup by copying (not linking) the files from one file system to the other. No action required, but copying consumes more disk space and takes longer than linking.

Creating the backup

Before creating a full hard-link local database backup of an Enterprise Mode database, verify the following:

  • Your database is running. All nodes need not be up in a K-safe database for vbr to run. However, be aware that any nodes that are DOWN are not backed up.

  • The user account that starts vbr (dbadmin or other) has write access to the target backup directories.

Hard-link backups are not supported in Eon Mode.

When you create a full or object-level hard link local backup, that backup contains the following:

Backup Catalog Database files
Full backup Full copy Hard file links to all database files
Object-level backup Full copy Hard file links for all objects listed in the configuration file, and any of their dependent objects

Run the vbr script from a terminal using the database administrator account from a node in your database cluster. You cannot run vbr as root.

Hard-link backups use the same vbr arguments as other backups. Configuring a backup as a hard-link backup is done entirely in the configuration file. The following example shows the syntax:

$ vbr --task backup --config fullbak.ini

You can use hard-link local backups as a staging mechanism to back up to tape or other forms of storage media. The following steps present a simplified approach to saving, and then restoring, hard-link local backups from tape storage:

  1. Create a configuration file by copying an existing one or one of the samples described in Sample vbr configuration files.

  2. Edit the configuration file (localbak.ini in this example) to include the hardLinkLocal=True parameter in the [Transmission] section.

  3. Run vbr with the configuration file:

    $ vbr --task backup --config-file localbak.ini
  4. Copy the hard-link local backup directory with a separate process (not vbr) to tape or other external media.

  5. If the database becomes corrupted, transfer the backup files from tape to their original backup directory and restore as explained in Restoring hard-link local backups.

Restoring hard-link local backups requires some additional (manual) steps. Do not use them as a substitute for regular full backups (Creating full backups).

Hard-link local backups are only as reliable as the disk on which they are stored. If the local disk becomes corrupt, so does the hard-link local backup. In this case, you are unable to restore the database from the hard-link local backup because it is also corrupt.

All sites should maintain full backups externally for disaster recovery because hard-link local backups do not actually copy any database files.