vmbackup creates VictoriaMetrics data backups from instant snapshots.

Supported storage systems for backups:

  • GCS. Example: gcs://<bucket>/<path/to/backup>
  • S3. Example: s3://<bucket>/<path/to/backup>
  • Any S3-compatible storage such as MinIO, Ceph or Swift. See -customS3Endpoint command-line flag.
  • Local filesystem. Example: fs://</absolute/path/to/backup>

Incremental backups and full backups are supported. Incremental backups are created automatically if the destination path already contains data from the previous backup. Full backups can be sped up with -origin pointing to already existing backup on the same remote storage. In this case vmbackup makes server-side copy for the shared data between the existing backup and new backup. This saves time and costs on data transfer.

Backup process can be interrupted at any time. It is automatically resumed from the interruption point when restarting vmbackup with the same args.

Backed up data can be restored with vmrestore.

See this article for more details.

See also vmbackuper tool built on top of vmbackup. This tool simplifies creation of hourly, daily, weekly and monthly backups.

Use cases

Regular backups

Regular backup can be performed with the following command:

vmbackup -storageDataPath=</path/to/victoria-metrics-data> -snapshotName=<local-snapshot> -dst=gcs://<bucket>/<path/to/new/backup>
  • </path/to/victoria-metrics-data> - path to VictoriaMetrics data pointed by -storageDataPath command-line flag in single-node VictoriaMetrics or in cluster vmstorage. There is no need to stop VictoriaMetrics for creating backups, since they are performed from immutable instant snapshots.
  • <local-snapshot> is the snapshot to backup. See how to create instant snapshots.
  • <bucket> is already existing name for GCS bucket.
  • <path/to/new/backup> is the destination path where new backup will be placed.

Regular backups with server-side copy from existing backup

If the destination GCS bucket already contains the previous backup at -origin path, then new backup can be sped up with the following command:

vmbackup -storageDataPath=</path/to/victoria-metrics-data> -snapshotName=<local-snapshot> -dst=gcs://<bucket>/<path/to/new/backup> -origin=gcs://<bucket>/<path/to/existing/backup>

This saves time and network bandwidth costs by performing server-side copy for the shared data from the -origin to -dst.

Incremental backups

Incremental backups are performed if -dst points to already existing backup. In this case only new data is uploaded to remote storage. This saves time and network bandwidth costs when working with big backups:

vmbackup -storageDataPath=</path/to/victoria-metrics-data> -snapshotName=<local-snapshot> -dst=gcs://<bucket>/<path/to/existing/backup>

Smart backups

Smart backups mean storing full daily backups into YYYYMMDD folders and creating incremental hourly backup into latest folder:

  • Run the following command every hour:
vmbackup -snapshotName=<latest-snapshot> -dst=gcs://<bucket>/latest

Where <latest-snapshot> is the latest snapshot. The command will upload only changed data to gcs://<bucket>/latest.

  • Run the following command once a day:
vmbackup -snapshotName=<daily-snapshot> -dst=gcs://<bucket>/<YYYYMMDD> -origin=gcs://<bucket>/latest

Where <daily-snapshot> is the snapshot for the last day <YYYYMMDD>.

This apporach saves network bandwidth costs on hourly backups (since they are incremental) and allows recovering data from either the last hour (latest backup) or from any day (YYYYMMDD backups). Note that hourly backup shouldn’t run when creating daily backup.

Do not forget removing old snapshots and backups when they are no longer needed for saving storage costs.

See also vmbackuper tool for automating smart backups.

How does it work?

The backup algorithm is the following:

  1. Collect information about files in the -snapshotName, in the -dst and in the -origin.
  2. Determine files in -dst, which are missing in -snapshotName, and delete them. These are usually small files, which are already merged into bigger files in the snapshot.
  3. Determine files from -snapshotName, which are missing in -dst. These are usually small new files and bigger merged files.
  4. Determine files from step 3, which exist in the -origin, and perform server-side copy of these files from -origin to -dst. This are usually the biggest and the oldest files, which are shared between backups.
  5. Upload the remaining files from setp 3 from -snapshotName to -dst.

The algorithm splits source files into 100MB chunks in the backup. Each chunk is stored as a separate file in the backup. Such splitting minimizes the amounts of data to re-transfer after temporary errors.

vmbackup relies on instant snapshot properties:

  • All the files in the snapshot are immutable.
  • Old files are periodically merged into new files.
  • Smaller files have higher probability to be merged.
  • Consecutive snapshots share many identical files.

These properties allow performing fast and cheap incremental backups and server-side copying from -origin paths. See this article for more details. vmbackup can work improperly or slowly when these properties are violated.


  • If the backup is slow, then try setting higher value for -concurrency flag. This will increase the number of concurrent workers that upload data to backup storage.
  • If vmbackup eats all the network bandwidth, then set -maxBytesPerSecond to the desired value.
  • If vmbackup has been interrupted due to temporary error, then just restart it with the same args. It will resume the backup process.
  • Backups created from single-node VictoriaMetrics cannot be restored at cluster VictoriaMetrics and vice versa.

Advanced usage

Run vmbackup -help in order to see all the available options:

  -concurrency int
    	The number of concurrent workers. Higher concurrency may reduce backup duration (default 10)
  -configFilePath string
    	Path to file with S3 configs. Configs are loaded from default location if not set.
    	See https://docs.aws.amazon.com/general/latest/gr/aws-security-credentials.html
  -configProfile string
    	Profile name for S3 configs. If no set, the value of the environment variable will be loaded (AWS_PROFILE or AWS_DEFAULT_PROFILE), or if both not set, DefaultSharedConfigProfile is used
  -credsFilePath string
    	Path to file with GCS or S3 credentials. Credentials are loaded from default locations if not set.
    	See https://cloud.google.com/iam/docs/creating-managing-service-account-keys and https://docs.aws.amazon.com/general/latest/gr/aws-security-credentials.html
  -customS3Endpoint string
    	Custom S3 endpoint for use with S3-compatible storages (e.g. MinIO). S3 is used if not set
  -dst string
    	Where to put the backup on the remote storage. Example: gcs://bucket/path/to/backup/dir, s3://bucket/path/to/backup/dir or fs:///path/to/local/backup/dir
    	-dst can point to the previous backup. In this case incremental backup is performed, i.e. only changed data is uploaded
    	Whether to enable reading flags from environment variables additionally to command line. Command line flag values have priority over values from environment vars. Flags are read only from command line if this flag isn't set
  -envflag.prefix string
    	Prefix for environment variables if -envflag.enable is set
    	Whether to use pread() instead of mmap() for reading data files. By default mmap() is used for 64-bit arches and pread() is used for 32-bit arches, since they cannot read data files bigger than 2^32 bytes in memory. mmap() is usually faster for reading small data chunks than pread()
  -loggerErrorsPerSecondLimit int
    	Per-second limit on the number of ERROR messages. If more than the given number of errors are emitted per second, then the remaining errors are suppressed. Zero value disables the rate limit (default 10)
  -loggerFormat string
    	Format for logs. Possible values: default, json (default "default")
  -loggerLevel string
    	Minimum level of errors to log. Possible values: INFO, WARN, ERROR, FATAL, PANIC (default "INFO")
  -loggerOutput string
    	Output for the logs. Supported values: stderr, stdout (default "stderr")
  -maxBytesPerSecond value
    	The maximum upload speed. There is no limit if it is set to 0
    	Supports the following optional suffixes for values: KB, MB, GB, KiB, MiB, GiB (default 0)
  -memory.allowedBytes value
    	Allowed size of system memory VictoriaMetrics caches may occupy. This option overrides -memory.allowedPercent if set to non-zero value. Too low value may increase cache miss rate, which usually results in higher CPU and disk IO usage. Too high value may evict too much data from OS page cache, which will result in higher disk IO usage
    	Supports the following optional suffixes for values: KB, MB, GB, KiB, MiB, GiB (default 0)
  -memory.allowedPercent float
    	Allowed percent of system memory VictoriaMetrics caches may occupy. See also -memory.allowedBytes. Too low value may increase cache miss rate, which usually results in higher CPU and disk IO usage. Too high value may evict too much data from OS page cache, which will result in higher disk IO usage (default 60)
  -origin string
    	Optional origin directory on the remote storage with old backup for server-side copying when performing full backup. This speeds up full backups
  -snapshot.createURL string
    	VictoriaMetrics create snapshot url. When this is given a snapshot will automatically be created during backup. Example: http://victoriametrics:8428/snaphsot/create
  -snapshot.deleteURL string
    	VictoriaMetrics delete snapshot url. Optional. Will be generated from -snapshot.createURL if not provided. All created snaphosts will be automatically deleted. Example: http://victoriametrics:8428/snaphsot/delete
  -snapshotName string
    	Name for the snapshot to backup. See https://github.com/VictoriaMetrics/VictoriaMetrics/blob/master/README.md#how-to-work-with-snapshots
  -storageDataPath string
    	Path to VictoriaMetrics data. Must match -storageDataPath from VictoriaMetrics or vmstorage (default "victoria-metrics-data")
    	Show VictoriaMetrics version

How to build from sources

It is recommended using binary releases - see vmutils-* archives there.

Development build

  1. Install Go. The minimum supported version is Go 1.13.
  2. Run make vmbackup from the root folder of the repository. It builds vmbackup binary and puts it into the bin folder.

Production build

  1. Install docker.
  2. Run make vmbackup-prod from the root folder of the repository. It builds vmbackup-prod binary and puts it into the bin folder.

Building docker images

Run make package-vmbackup. It builds victoriametrics/vmbackup:<PKG_TAG> docker image locally. <PKG_TAG> is auto-generated image tag, which depends on source code in the repository. The <PKG_TAG> may be manually set via PKG_TAG=foobar make package-vmbackup.

By default the image is built on top of alpine image. It is possible to build the package on top of any other base image by setting it via <ROOT_IMAGE> environment variable. For example, the following command builds the image on top of scratch image:

ROOT_IMAGE=scratch make package-vmbackup