bin/backup script: sensible defaults around bin/repozo

buildout backup repozo zope
pip install collective.recipe.backup==4.1.1


Easy Zope backup/restore recipe for buildout


This recipe is mostly a wrapper around the bin/repozo script in your Zope buildout. It requires that this script is already made available. If this is not the case, you will get an error like this when you run one of the scripts: bin/repozo: No such file or directory. You should be fine when you are on Plone 3 or when you are on Plone 4 and are using plone.recipe.zeoserver. If this is not the case, the easiest way of getting a bin/repozo script is to add a new section in your buildout.cfg (do not forget to add it in the parts directive):

recipe = zc.recipe.egg
eggs = ZODB
# or this for an older version:
# eggs = ZODB3
scripts = repozo
dependent-scripts = true

bin/repozo is a Zope script to make backups of your Data.fs. Looking up the settings can be a chore. And you have to pick a directory where to put the backups. This recipe provides sensible defaults for your common backup tasks. Making backups a piece of cake is important!

  • bin/backup makes an incremental backup.
  • bin/fullbackup always makes a full backup, in the same directory as the normal backups. You can enable this by setting the enable_fullbackup option to true.
  • bin/restore restores the latest backup, created by the backup or fullbackup script.
  • bin/snapshotbackup makes a full snapshot backup, separate from the regular backups. Handy right before a big change in the site.
  • bin/snapshotrestore restores the latest full snapshot backup.
  • bin/zipbackup makes a zip backup. This zips the Data.fs and the blobstorage, handy for copying production data to your local machine, especially the blobstorage with its many files. Note: the Data.fs and blobstorage (or other storages) are not combined in one file; you need to download multiple files. Enable this script by using the enable_zipbackup option.
  • bin/ziprestore restores the latest zipbackup.


The recipe is tested with Python 2.6, 2.7, and 3.6. In Plone terms it works fine on Plone 4 and 5.

Note that the integration with plone.recipe.zope2instance is not tested on Python 3.6. There is not yet a Python 3 compatible version of this recipe and its mailinglogger dependency.


Example usage

The simplest way to use this recipe is to add a part in buildout.cfg like this:

parts = backup

recipe = collective.recipe.backup

You can set lots of extra options, but the recipe authors like to think they have created sane defaults, so this single line stating the recipe name should be enough in most cases.

Running the buildout adds the backup, fullbackup, snapshotbackup, zipbackup, restore, snapshotrestore and ziprestore scripts to the bin/ directory of the buildout. Some are not added by default, others can be switched off.

Backed up data

Which data does this recipe backup?

  • The Zope Object DataBase (ZODB) filestorage, by default located at var/filestorage/Data.fs.
  • Possibly additional filestorages, see the additional_filestorages option.
  • The blobstorage (since version 2.0) if your buildout uses it, by default located at var/blobstorage.

Data that is not backed up

Which data does this recipe not backup? Everything else of course, but specifically:

  • Data stored in RelStorage will not be backed up. (You could still use this recipe to back up the filesystem blobstorage, possibly with the only_blobs option.)
  • Other data stored in SQL, perhaps via SQLAlchemy, will not be backed up.
  • It does not create a backup of your entire buildout directory.

Is your backup backed up?

Note that the backups are by default created in the var directory of the buildout, so if you accidentally remove the entire buildout, you also lose your backups. It should be standard practice to use the location option to specify a backup location in for example the home directory of the user. You should also arrange to copy that backup to a different machine/country/continent/planet.


Calling bin/backup results in a normal incremental repozo backup that creates a backup of the Data.fs in var/backups. When you have a blob storage it is by default backed up to var/blobstoragebackups.

Full backup

Calling bin/fullbackup results in a normal FULL repozo backup that creates a backup of the Data.fs in var/backups. When you have a blob storage it is by default backed up to var/blobstoragebackups. This script is provided so that you can set different cron jobs for full and incremental backups. You may want to have incrementals done daily, with full backups done weekly. Now you can!

Since version 4.0, the fullbackup script is not created by default. Enable it by setting enable_fullbackup to true

You should normally do a bin/zeopack regularly, say once a week, to remove unused objects from your Zope Data.fs. The next time bin/backup is called, a complete fresh backup is made, because an incremental backup is not possible anymore. This is standard bin/repozo behaviour. So you might not need the bin/fullbackup script.


A quick backup just before updating the production server is a good idea. But you may not want to interfere with the regular backup regime. For that, the bin/snapshotbackup is great. It places a full backup in, by default, var/snapshotbackups.


For quickly grabbing the current state of a production database so you can download it to your development laptop, you want a full and zipped backup. The zipped part is important for the blobstorage, because you do not want to use scp to recursively copy over all those blob files: downloading one tarball is faster.

You can use the bin/zipbackup script for this. This script overrides a few settings, ignoring whatever is set in the buildout config section:

  • gzip is explicitly turned on for the filestorage (this is already the default, but we make sure).
  • archive_blob is turned on.
  • keep is set to 1 to avoid keeping lots of needless backups.
  • keep_blob_days is ignored because it is a full backup.

The script places a full backup in, by default, var/zipbackups and it puts a tarball of the blobstorage in var/blobstoragezips.

This script is not created by default. You can enable it by setting the enable_zipbackup option to true. Also, if backup_blobs is false, the scripts are useless, so we do not create them, even when you have enabled them explicitly.


Calling bin/restore restores the very latest normal incremental repozo backup and restores the blobstorage if you have that.

You can restore the very latest snapshotbackup with bin/snapshotrestore.

You can restore the zipbackup with bin/ziprestore.

You can also restore the backup as of a certain date. Just pass a date argument. According to repozo: specify UTC (not local) time. The format is yyyy-mm-dd[-hh[-mm[-ss]]]. So as a simple example, restore to 25 december 1972:

bin/restore 1972-12-25

or to that same date, at 2,03 seconds past 1:

bin/restore 1972-12-25-01-02-03

Since version 2.3 this also works for restoring blobs. We restore the directory from the first backup at or before the specified date. (Note that before version 4.0 we restored the directory from the first backup after the specified date, which should be fine as long as you did not do a database pack in between.)

Since version 2.0, the restore scripts ask for confirmation before starting the restore, as this is a potentially dangerous command. ("Oops, I have restored the live site but I meant to restore the test site.") You need to explicitly type 'yes':

This will replace the filestorage (Data.fs).
This will replace the blobstorage.
Are you sure? (yes/No)?

Note that for large filestorages and blobstorages it may take long to restore. You should do a test restore and check how long it takes. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? Is that time acceptable or should you take other measures?

Names of created scripts

A backup part will normally be called [backup], leading to a bin/backup and bin/snapshotbackup. Should you name your part something else, the script names will also be different, as will the created var/ directories (since version 1.2):

parts = plonebackup

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
enable_zipbackup = true

That buildout snippet will create these scripts:


Supported options

The recipe supports the following options, none of which are needed by default. The most common ones to change are location and blobbackuplocation, as those allow you to place your backups in some system-wide directory like /var/zopebackups/instancename/ and /var/zopebackups/instancename-blobs/.

Advanced option, only needed when you have split for instance a catalog.fs out of the regular Data.fs. Use it to specify the extra filestorages. (See Advanced usage: multiple Data.fs files).
Use tar archiving functionality. false by default. Set it to true and backup/restore will be done with tar command. Note that tar command must be available on machine if this option is set to true. This option also works with snapshot backup/restore commands. As this counts as a full backup keep_blob_days is ignored. See the compress_blob option if you want to compress the archive.
You can restore from an alternative source. Use case: first make a backup of your production site, then go to the testing or staging server and restore the production data there. See Alternative restore sources
Backup the blob storage. Default is True on Python 2.6 (Plone 4) and higher, and False otherwise. This requires the blob_storage location to be set. If no blob_storage location has been set and we cannot find one by looking in the other buildout parts, we quit with an error (since version 2.22). If backup_blobs is false, enable_zipbackup cannot be true, because the zipbackup script is not useful then.
Location of the directory where the blobs (binary large objects) are stored. This is used in Plone 4 and higher, or on Plone 3 if you use This option is ignored if backup_blobs is false. The location is not set by default. When there is a part using plone.recipe.zeoserver, plone.recipe.zope2instance or plone.recipe.zope2zeoserver, we check if that has a blob-storage option and use that as default. Note that we pick the first one that has this option and we do not care about shared-blob settings, so there are probably corner cases where we do not make the best decision here. Use this option to override it in that case.
Alternative spelling for the preferred blob_storage, as plone.recipe.zope2instance spells it as blob-storage and we are using underscores in all the other options. Pick one.
New in version 4.0. Default is false. By default we create blobstorage.0. The next time, we rotate this to blobstorage.1 and create a new blobstorage.0. With blob_timestamps = true, we create stable directories that we do not rotate. They get a timestamp, the same timestamp that the ZODB filestorage backup gets. For example: blobstorage.1972-12-25-01-02-03. Or with archive_blob = true: blobstorage.1972-12-25-01-02-03.tar.gz. Because the filename is unpredictable, since version 4.1 we create a latest symlink to the most recent backup.
Directory where the blob storage will be backed up to. Defaults to var/blobstoragebackups inside the buildout directory.
Directory where the blob storage snapshots will be created. Defaults to var/blobstoragesnapshots inside the buildout directory.
Directory where the blob storage zipbackups will be created. Defaults to var/blobstoragezips inside the buildout directory.
New in version 4.0. Default is false. This is only used when the archive_blob option is true. When switched on, it will compress the archive, resulting in a .tar.gz instead of a tar file. When restoring, we always look for both compressed and normal archives. We used to always compress them, but in most cases it hardly decreases the size and it takes a long time anyway. I have seen archiving take 15 seconds, and compressing take an additional 45 seconds. The result was an archive of 5.0 GB instead of 5.1 GB.
In case the Data.fs isn't in the default var/filestorage/Data.fs location, this option can overwrite it.
In rare cases when you want to know exactly what's going on, set debug to true to get debug level logging of the recipe itself. repozo is also run with --verbose if this option is enabled.
Create fullbackup script. Default: false (changed in 4.0).
Having a snapshotrestore script is very useful in development environments, but can be harmful in a production buildout. The script restores the latest snapshot directly to your filestorage and it used to do this without asking any questions whatsoever (this has been changed to require an explicit yes as answer). If you don't want a snapshotrestore script, set this option to false.
Create zipbackup and ziprestore scripts. Default: false. If backup_blobs is not on, these scripts are always disabled, because they are not useful then.
By default, incremental backups are made. If this option is set to true, bin/backup will always make a full backup. This option is (obviously) the default when using the fullbackup script.
Use repozo's zipping functionality. true by default. Set it to false and repozo will not gzip its files. Note that gzipped databases are called *.fsz, not *.fs.gz. Changed in 0.8: the default used to be false, but it so totally makes sense to gzip your backups that we changed the default.
Backwards compatibility alias for archive_blob option.
New in version 4.0. Default is false. When switched on, it will use the --listed-incremental option of tar. Note: this only works with the GNU version of tar. On Mac you may need to install this with brew install gnu-tar and change your PATH according to the instructions. It will create a metadata or snapshot file so that a second call to the backup script will create a second tarball with only the differences. For some reason, all directories always end up in the second tarball, even when there are no changes; this may depend on the used file system. This option is ignored when the archive_blob option is false. This option requires the blob_timestamps option to be true, because it needs the tarball names to be stable, instead of getting rotated. If you have explicitly set blob_timestamps to false, buildout will exit with an error. Note that the latest symlink to the most recent backup is not created with incremental_blobs true. For large blobstorages it may take long to restore, so do test it out. But that is wise in all cases. Essentially, this feature seems to trade off storage space reduction with restore time.
Number of full backups to keep. Defaults to 2, which means that the current and the previous full backup are kept. Older backups are removed, including their incremental backups. Set it to 0 to keep all backups.
Number of days of blob backups to keep. Defaults to 14, so two weeks. This is only used for partial (full=False) backups, so this is what gets used normally when you do a bin/backup. This option has been added in 2.2. For full backups (snapshots) we just use the keep option. Recommended is to keep these values in sync with how often you do a zeopack on the Data.fs, according to the formula keep * days_between_zeopacks = keep_blob_days. The default matches one zeopack per seven days (2*7=14). Since version 4.0, this option is ignored unless only_blobs is true. Instead, we remove the blob backups that have no matching filestorage backup.
Location where backups are stored. Defaults to var/backups inside the buildout directory.
Location of the folder where all other backup and snapshot folders will be created. Defaults to var/. Note that this does not influence where we look for a source filestorage or blobstorage.
Only backup the blobstorage, not the Data.fs filestorage. False by default. May be a useful option if for example you want to create one bin/filestoragebackup script and one bin/blobstoragebackup script, using only_blobs in one and backup_blobs in the other.
Command to execute after the backup has finished. One use case would be to unmount the remote file system that you mounted earlier using the pre_command. See that pre_command above for more info.
Command to execute before starting the backup. One use case would be to mount a remote file system using NFS or sshfs and put the backup there. Any output will be printed. If you do not like that, you can always redirect output somewhere else (mycommand > /dev/null on Unix). Refer to your local Unix guru for more information. If the command fails, the backup script quits with an error. You can specify multiple commands.

Call repozo with the --quick option. This option was introduced to collective.recipe.backup in version 2.19, with default value true. Due to all the checksums that the repozo default non-quick behavior does, an amount of data is read that is three to four times as much as is in the actual filestorage. With the quick option it could easily be just a few kilobytes. Theoretically the quick option is less safe, but it looks like it can only go wrong when someone edits the .dat file in the repository or removes a .deltafs file.

The quick option only influences the created bin/backup script. It has no effect on the snapshot or restore scripts.

The repozo help says about this option: "Verify via md5 checksum only the last incremental written. This significantly reduces the disk i/o at the (theoretical) cost of inconsistency. This is a probabilistic way of determining whether a full backup is necessary."

Add extra options to the default rsync -a command. Default is no extra parameters. This can be useful for example when you want to restore a backup from a symlinked directory, in which case rsync_options = --no-l -k does the trick.
Location where snapshot backups of the filestorage are stored. Defaults to var/snapshotbackups inside the buildout directory.
Use rsync with hard links for backing up the blobs. Default is true. rsync is probably not available on all machines though, and I guess hard links will not work on Windows. When you set this to false, we fall back to a simple copy (shutil.copytree from Python in fact).
Location where zip backups of the filestorage are stored. Defaults to var/zipbackups inside the buildout directory.

An example buildout snippet using various options, would look like this:

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
location = ${buildout:directory}/myproject
keep = 2
datafs = subfolder/myproject.fs
full = true
debug = true
snapshotlocation = snap/my
gzip = false
enable_snapshotrestore = true
pre_command = echo 'Can I have a backup?'
post_command =
    echo 'Thanks a lot for the backup.'
    echo 'We are done.'

Paths in directories or files can use relative (../) paths, and ~ (home dir) and $BACKUP-style environment variables are expanded.

Cron job integration

bin/backup is of course ideal to put in your cronjob instead of a whole bin/repozo .... line. But you don't want the "INFO" level logging that you get, as you'll get that in your mailbox. In your cronjob, just add -q or --quiet, and bin/backup will shut up unless there's a problem. This option ignores the debug variable, if set to true in buildout.

Speaking of cron jobs? Take a look at zc.recipe.usercrontab if you want to handle cronjobs from within your buildout. For example:

recipe = z3c.recipe.usercrontab
times = 0 12 * * *
command = ${buildout:directory}/bin/backup

Advanced usage: multiple Data.fs files

Sometimes, a filestorage is split into several files. Most common reason is to have a regular Data.fs and a catalog.fs which contains the portal_catalog. This is supported with the additional_filestorages option:

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
additional_filestorages =

This means that, with the standard Data.fs, the bin/backup script will now backup three filestorages:


The additional backups have to be stored separate from the Data.fs backup. That's done by appending the file's name and creating extra backup directories named that way:


The various backups are done one after the other. They cannot be done at the same time with repozo. So they are not completely in sync. The "other" databases are backed up first as a small difference in the catalog is just mildly irritating, but the other way around users can get real errors.

In the additional_filestorages option you can define different filestorages using this syntax:

additional_filestorages =
    storagename1 [datafs1_path [blobdir1]]
    storagename2 [datafs2_path [blobdir2]]

So if you want more control over the filestorage source path, you can explicitly set it, with or without the blobstorage path. For example:

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
additional_filestorages =
    foo ${buildout:directory}/var/filestorage/foo/foo.fs ${buildout:directory}/var/blobstorage-foo
    bar ${buildout:directory}/var/filestorage/bar/bar.fs

If the datafs_path is missing, then the default value will be used (var/filestorage/storagename1.fs). If you do not specify a blobdir, then this means no blobs will be backed up for that storage. Note that if you specify blobdir you must specify datafs_path as well.

Note that collective.recipe.filestorage creates additional filestorages in a slightly different location, but you can explictly define the paths of filestorage and blobstorage for all the parts defined in the recipe. Work is in progress to improve this.

Blob storage

Added in version 2.0.

We can backup the blob storage. Plone 4 uses a blob storage to store files (Binary Large OBjects) on the file system. In Plone 3 this is optional. When this is used, it should be backed up of course. You must specify the source blob_storage directory where Plone (or Zope) stores its blobs. As indicated earlier, when we do not set it specifically, we try to get the location from other parts, for example the plone.recipe.zope2instance recipe:

parts = instance backup

recipe = plone.recipe.zope2instance
user = admin:admin
blob-storage = ${buildout:directory}/var/somewhere

recipe = collective.recipe.backup

If needed, we can tell buildout that we only want to backup blobs or specifically do not want to backup the blobs. Specifying this using the backup_blobs and only_blobs options might be useful in case you want to separate this into several scripts:

newest = false
parts = filebackup blobbackup

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
backup_blobs = false

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
blob_storage = ${buildout:directory}/var/blobstorage
only_blobs = true

With this setup bin/filebackup now only backs up the filestorage and bin/blobbackup only backs up the blobstorage.

New in version 4.0: you may want to specify blob_timestamps = true. Then we create stable directories that we do not rotate. For example: blobstorage.1972-12-25-01-02-03 instead of blobstorage.0.


By default we use rsync to create backups. We create hard links with this tool, to save disk space and still have incremental backups. This probably requires a unixy (Linux, Mac OS X) operating system. It is based on this article by Mike Rubel:

We have not tried this on Windows. Reports are welcome, but best is probably to set the use_rsync = false option in the backup part. Then we simply copy the blobstorage directory.

Alternative restore sources

Added in version 2.17.

You can restore from an alternative source. Use case: first make a backup of your production site, then go to the testing or staging server and restore the production data there.

In the alternative_restore_sources option you can define different filestorage and blobstorage backup source directories using this syntax:

alternative_restore_sources =
    storagename1 datafs1_backup [blobdir1_backup]
    storagename2 datafs2_backup [blobdir2_backup]

The storagenames must be the same as in the additional_filestorages option, plus a key Data (or 1) for the standard Data.fs and optionally its blobstorage.

The result is a bin/altrestore script.

This will work for a standard buildout with a single filestorage and blobstorage:

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
alternative_restore_sources =
    Data /path/to/production/var/backups /path/to/production/var/blobstoragebackups

The above configuration uses repozo to restore the Data.fs from the /path/to/production/var/backups repository to the standard var/filestorage/Data.fs location. It copies the most recent blobstorage backup from /path/to/production/var/blobstoragebackups/ to the standard var/blobstorage location.

Calling the script with a specific date is supported just like the normal restore script:

bin/altrestore 2000-12-31-23-59

If you have additional filestorages, it would be like this:

recipe = collective.recipe.backup
additional_filestorages =
    foo ${buildout:directory}/var/filestorage/foo/foo.fs ${buildout:directory}/var/blobstorage-foo
    bar ${buildout:directory}/var/filestorage/bar/bar.fs
alternative_restore_sources =
    Data /path/to/production/var/backups /path/to/production/var/blobstoragebackups
    foo /path/to/production/var/backups_foo /path/to/production/var/blobstoragebackups_foo
    bar /path/to/production/var/backups_bar

The recipe will fail if the alternative sources do not match the standard filestorage, blobstorage and additional storages. For example, you get an error when the alternative_restore_sources is missing the Data key, when it has extra or missing keys, when a key has no paths, when a key has an extra or missing blobstorage.

During install of the recipe, so during the bin/buildout run, it does not check if the sources exist: you might have the production backups on a different server and need to setup a remote shared directory, or you copy the data over manually.

Note that the script takes the archive_blob and use_rsync options into account. So if the alternative restore source contains a blob backup that was made with archive_blob = true, you need an altrestore script that also uses this setting.