Using Apache HBase to store and access data
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Best practices for backup-and-restore

To perform a successful backup-and-restore operation, you need to formulate a restore strategy and test it, store backup data from a production cluster on a different cluster or a server, secure a full backup image first, define and use backup sets for groups of tables and finally document the backup-and-restore strategy.

  • Formulate a restore strategy and test it. Before you rely on a backup-and-restore strategy for your production environment, identify how backups must be performed, and more importantly, how restores must be performed. Test the plan to ensure that it is workable.
  • At a minimum, store backup data from a production cluster on a different cluster or server. To further safeguard the data, use a backup location that is at a different site. If you have a unrecoverable loss of data on your primary production cluster as a result of computer system issues, you may be able to restore the data from a different cluster or server at the same site. However, a disaster that destroys the whole site renders locally stored backups useless. Consider storing the backup data and necessary resources (both computing capacity and operator expertise) to restore the data at a site sufficiently remote from the production site. In the case of a catastrophe at the whole primary site (fire, earthquake, etc.), the remote backup site can be very valuable.
  • Secure a full backup image first. As a baseline, you must complete a full backup of HBase data at least once before you can rely on incremental backups. The full backup should be stored outside of the source cluster. To ensure complete dataset recovery, you must run the restore utility with the option to restore baseline full backup. The full backup is the foundation of your dataset. Incremental backup data is applied on top of the full backup during the restore operation to return you to the point in time when backup was last taken.
  • Define and use backup sets for groups of tables that are logical subsets of the entire dataset. You can group tables into an object called a backup set. A backup set can save time when you have a particular group of tables that you expect to repeatedly back up or restore. When you create a backup set, you type table names to include in the group. The backup set includes not only groups of related tables, but also retains the HBase backup metadata. Afterwards, you can invoke the backup set name to indicate what tables apply to the command execution instead of entering all the table names individually.
  • Document the backup-and-restore strategy, and ideally log information about each backup. Document the whole process so that the knowledge base can transfer to new administrators after employee turnover. As an extra safety precaution, also log the calendar date, time, and other relevant details about the data of each backup. This metadata can potentially help locate a particular dataset in case of source cluster failure or primary site disaster. Maintain duplicate copies of all documentation: one copy at the production cluster site and another at the backup location or wherever it can be accessed by an administrator remotely from the production cluster.