Backup and restore

Timescale Cloud has a range of automated backup and restore mechanisms. All automated backups in Timescale Cloud are created using the pgBackRest tool. There is no need for you to manually perform backups for your Timescale Cloud service.

Timescale Cloud allows a point-in-time recovery to any point since the service was created, regardless of when a failure occurs. To achieve this, Timescale Cloud automatically creates one full backup every week. We also take incremental backups every day, which store any changes since the last full backup. Finally, all generated WAL (Write-Ahead Log) files are streamed to S3. The two most recent full backups are also stored securely on an Amazon S3 service with the most recent incremental backups. This means that you always have a full "base" backup for the current and the previous week, and we can restore your backup to any point up to the point of failure.

To perform a point-in-time recovery, your database is first restored using the full backup, then any available incremental backups, and finally by replaying any WAL to cover any gap in time between the incremental backup and the target recovery point. For more information about how backup and restore works, see the blog post on high availability.

When you delete an instance, a backup of your instance is retained for at least seven days. If you need to restore your database from a backup, contact support.

If you want to verify that your service is being backed up, you can run this query from the psql prompt:

SELECT pg_is_in_backup()::text

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Weekly backups

A full database backup is performed weekly. The two most recent full backups are automatically saved to a secure Amazon S3 service. For every successful weekly backup, the logs show DB BACKED UP.

If a weekly backup fails to complete, the logs show DB DIDN'T BACKUP, with the time and day that the backup failed to complete. In this case, the backup is automatically attempted again.

If the backup failed because it took too long to complete, you might need to increase the CPU size of your system. This can happen if you service has a lot of data, but not enough CPU processing capability. Increasing the size of the CPU can help alleviate this bottleneck.

Daily backups

Incremental database backups are performed daily. This backs up the database first against the weekly full backup, and then against the previous day's incremental backup. This means that each day has a full record that can be used to restore the service, but does not take as long to run as a full backup.

Because writes to the database occur in real time, the service commits write-ahead log (WAL) segments of all changes by streaming them to an Amazon S3 service. This ensures that any data committed is available for recovery.

If an incremental backup fails to complete, it will try again the next day. In this case, the backup contains the difference between the last complete backup and the current day.

Restore from backup

If your database fails, the restore process begins automatically. This occurs in two stages:

  1. Restore: The PostgreSQL service uses pgBackRest to restore from the most recent successful backup. In most cases, the most recent successful backup is no more than a day old; either a full weekly backup, or an incremental daily backup. How quickly this occurs is limited by the CPU size of the service. Large services can take a long time to restore.
  2. Recovery: When the restore is complete, recovery can begin. This is where the database replays the WAL segments that have been created since the last successful backup. This stage is processed using a single thread, so the speed of this stage is dependent not on the size of the service, but on the amount of data between the last successful backup and the WAL segments stored. If your last successful backup was recent, this step will be quicker than the restore step.

If you want to check if your service is in the recovery phase, you can run this query from the psql prompt:

SELECT pg_is_in_recovery()::text

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