The Cost of Backups

I’ve been putting together a recent series on how to easily run backups on Kubernetes and it struck me that there’s a range of theory that underpins the decisions one must make when designing a backup system. This theory is not often discussed and in many cases you “take backups in case something bad happens” without having a clear understanding of why different backups should be taken, how long they should be retained for or when you should be taking them.

In this post I’ll go over some of the costs associated with backups (both the direct and indirect) and how those will affect various decisions you make when designing a system that uses backups.

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Rotating Backups

Recently I wrote a blog post on how to execute scheduled backups using Kubernetes CronJobs. In that post I showed how easily one could dump backup files to an S3 bucket on a schedule using some trivially simple containers, but the astute among you will have noticed that I didn’t touch on the topic of backup rotation…

Backup rotation is the process of removing old or extraneous backups to make the best of your available storage space and before I write a post on how we do that, I’d like to discuss what backup rotation implies and how it should be done to maximize business value and minimize risk.

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