The Need to Backup Cloud Managed Databases

Simon Bennett
Simon Bennett · Apr 07, 2021
The Need to Backup Cloud Managed Databases Artwork

If you’ve built a web application, large or small, chances are you are pushing a good amount of data in and out of a database. For many apps, the database either lives on the same server as your code, or on its own machine for performance reasons. If you don’t want to babysit a database server and be constantly worried about availability, rollovers, and standby nodes, then a “Managed Database as a Service” setup may be of interest to you.

DigitalOcean is the latest company to jump on this trend and in 2020 began offering managed database services for MySQL and PostgreSQL. It can be great for setups of any size and it’s easy to scale up the resources the database has access to instantly. Plus, you leave the mundane tasks of running a high performance database server to the experts while you focus on your code and app.

But there’s something you need to be aware of with these types of services. There’s always a but…

If you keep your database on a server you manage, you can include database backups as part of your SnapShooter snapshot or full machine backup. You can also set up a standalone database dump using mysqldump or our MySQL backup service. You know that your database data is being backed up regularly.

However, if you use a MDaaS (I made up that acronym,) there may be some catastrophic recovery services but otherwise, these providers don’t tend to actively backup your databases as often or in a way that you perhaps would.

That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom with these providers. DigitalOcean, in regards to its managed database service, does offer point in time backups for its managed databases. They will back up your database daily and allow you to restore to any point within the previous seven days.

Not bad, but there are some things to be aware of with this strategy. You can’t control when the backup is made. The other big issue is that you are keeping all your eggs in their basket. We trust them, but we like to have full control over our data, including where our data is stored and when the backups are run. More backups is always better than less backups.

That said, it’s critical that you have a database backup strategy no matter where your database lives or who manages it. The good news is that SnapShooter’s database snapshot tools can connect to these managed databases and back them up on a schedule you determine. This means you can leverage the performance of a managed system while still protecting your data. It’s a win-win.