Tips for Storing MongoDB Backups in the Cloud

Bart Oles


When it comes to backups and data archiving, IT departments are under pressure to meet stricter service level agreements, deliver more custom reports, and adhere to expanding compliance requirements while continuing to manage daily archive and backup tasks.  With no doubt, database server stores some of your enterprise’s most valuable information. Guaranteeing reliable database backups to prevent data loss in the event of an accident or hardware failure is a critical checkbox.

But how to make it truly DR when all of your data is in the single data center or even data centers that are in the near geolocation? Moreover, whether it is a 24×7 highly loaded server or a low-transaction-volume environment, you will be in the need of making backups a seamless procedure without disrupting the performance of the server in a production environment.

In this blog, we are going to review MongoDB backup to the cloud. The cloud has changed the data backup industry. Because of its affordable price point, smaller businesses have an offsite solution that backs up all of their data.

We will show you how to perform safe MongoDB backups using mongo services as well as other methods that you can use to extend your database disaster recovery options.

If your server or backup destination is located in an exposed infrastructure like a public cloud, hosting provider or connected through an untrusted WAN network, you need to think about additional actions in your backup policy. There are a few different ways to perform database backups for MongoDB, and depending on the type of backup, recovery time, size, and infrastructure options will vary. Since many of the cloud storage solutions are simply storage with different API front ends, any backup solution can be performed with a bit of scripting. So what are the options we have to make the process smooth and secure?

MongoDB Backup Encryption

Security should be in the center of every action IT teams do. It is always a good idea to enforce encryption to enhance the security of backup data. A simple use case to implement encryption is where you want to push the backup to offsite backup storage located in the public cloud.

When creating an encrypted backup, one thing to keep in mind is that it usually takes more time to recover. The backup has to be decrypted before any recovery activities. With a big dataset, this could introduce some delays to the RTO.

On the other hand, if you are using the private keys for encryption, make sure to store the key in a safe place. If the private key is missing, the backup will be useless and unrecoverable. If the key is stolen, all created backups that use the same key would be compromised as they are no longer secured. You can use popular GnuPG or OpenSSL to generate private or public keys.

To perform MongoDBdump encryption using GnuPG, generate a private key and follow the wizard accordingly:

$ gpg --gen-key

Create a plain MongoDBdump backup as usual:

$ mongodump –db db1 –gzip –archive=/tmp/db1.tar.gz
Encrypt the dump file and remove the older plain backup:
$ gpg --encrypt -r ‘[email protected]’ db1.tar.gz

$ rm -f db1.tar.gz
GnuPG will automatically append .gpg extension on the encrypted file. To decrypt,

simply run the gpg command with –decrypt flag:

$ gpg --output db1.tar.gz --decrypt db1.tar.gz.gpg
To create an encrypted MongoDBdump using OpenSSL, one has to generate a private key and a public key:
OpenSSL req -x509 -nodes -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout dump.priv.pem -out

This private key (dump.priv.pem) must be kept in a safe place for future decryption. For Mongodump, an encrypted backup can be created by piping the content to openssl, for example

mongodump –db db1 –gzip –archive=/tmp/db1.tar.gz | openssl smime -encrypt -binary -text -aes256

-out database.sql.enc -outform DER
To decrypt, simply use the private key (dump.priv.pem) alongside the -decrypt flag:

openssl smime -decrypt -in database.sql.enc -binary -inform

DEM -inkey dump.priv.pem -out db1.tar.gz

MongoDB Backup Compression

Within the database cloud backup world, compression is one of your best friends. It can not only save storage space, but it can also significantly reduce the time required to download/upload data.

In addition to archiving, we’ve also added support for compression using gzip. This is exposed by the introduction of a new command-line option “–gzip” in both mongodump and mongorestore. Compression works both for backups created using the directory and the archive mode and reduces disk space usage.

Normally, MongoDB dump can have the best compression rates as it is a flat text file. Depending on the compression tool and ratio, a compressed MongoDBdump can be up to 6 times smaller than the original backup size. To compress the backup, you can pipe the MongoDBdump output to a compression tool and redirect it to a destination file

Having a compressed backup could save you up to 50% of the original backup size, depending on the dataset. 

mongodump --db country --gzip --archive=country.archive

Limiting Network Throughput

A great option for cloud backups is to limit network streaming bandwidth (Mb/s) when doing a backup. You can achieve that with pv tool. The pv utility comes with data modifiers option -L RATE, –rate-limit RATE which limit the transfer to a maximum of RATE bytes per second. Below example will restrict it to 2MB/s.

$ pv -q -L 2m

Transferring MongoDB Backups to the Cloud

Now when your backup is compressed and secured (encrypted), it is ready for transfer.

Google Cloud

The gsutil command-line tool is used to manage, monitor and use your storage buckets on Google Cloud Storage. If you already installed the gcloud util, you already have the gsutil installed. Otherwise, follow the instructions for your Linux distribution from here.

To install the gcloud CLI you can follow the below procedure:

curl | bash
Restart your shell:
exec -l $SHELL
Run gcloud init to initialize the gcloud environment:
gcloud init
With the gsutil command line tool installed and authenticated, create a regional storage bucket named MongoDB-backups-storage in your current project.
gsutil mb -c regional -l europe-west1 gs://severalnines-storage/

Creating gs://MongoDB-backups-storage/

Amazon S3

If you are not using RDS to host your databases, it is very probable that you are doing your own backups. Amazon’s AWS platform, S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Service) is a data storage service that can be used to store database backups or other business-critical files. Either it’s Amazon EC2 instance or your on-prem environment you can use the service to secure your data.

While backups can be uploaded through the web interface, the dedicated s3 command line interface can be used to do it from the command line and through backup automation scripts. If backups are to be kept for a very long time, and recovery time isn’t a concern, backups can be transferred to Amazon Glacier service, providing much cheaper long-term storage. Files (amazon objects) are logically stored in a huge flat container named bucket. S3 presents a REST interface to its internals. You can use this API to perform CRUD operations on buckets and objects, as well as to change permissions and configurations on both.

The primary distribution method for the AWS CLI on Linux, Windows, and macOS is pip, a package manager for Python. Instructions can be found here.

aws s3 cp severalnines.sql s3://severalnine-sbucket/MongoDB_backups
By default, S3 provides eleven 9s object durability. It means that if you store (1 billion) objects into it, you can expect to lose 1 object every 10 years on average. The way S3 achieves that an impressive number of 9s is by replicating the object automatically in multiple Availability Zones, which we’ll talk about in another post. Amazon has regional data centers all around the world.

Microsoft Azure Storage

Microsoft’s public cloud platform, Azure, has storage options with its control line interface. Information can be found here. The open-source, cross-platform Azure CLI provides a set of commands for working with the Azure platform. It gives much of the functionality seen in the Azure portal, including rich data access.

The installation of Azure CLI is fairly simple, you can find instructions here. Below you can find how to transfer your backup to Microsoft storage.

az storage blob upload --container-name severalnines --file severalnines.gz.tar --name severalnines_backup

Hybrid Storage for MongoDB Backups

With the growing public and private cloud storage industry, we have a new category called hybrid storage. The typical approach is to keep data on local disk drives for a shorter period while cloud backup storage would be held for a longer time. Many times the requirement for longer backup retention comes from legal obligations for different industries (like telecoms having to store connection metadata).This technology allows the files to be stored locally, with changes automatically synced to remote in the cloud. Such an approach is coming from the need of having recent backups stored locally for fast restore (lower RTO), as well as business continuity objectives.

The important aspect of efficient resource usage is to have separate backup retentions. Data that is stored locally, on redundant disk drives would be kept for a shorter period while cloud backup storage would be held for a longer time. Many times the requirement for longer backup retention comes from legal obligations for different industries (like telecoms having to store connection metadata).

Cloud providers like Google Cloud Services, Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3 each offer virtually unlimited storage, decreasing local space needs. It allows you to retain your backup files longer, for as long as you would like and not have concerns around local disk space.

ClusterControl Backup Management – Hybrid Storage

When scheduling backup with ClusterControl, each of the backup methods are configurable with a set of options on how you want the backup to be executed. The most important for the hybrid cloud storage would be:

  • Network throttling
  • Encryption with the built-in key management
  • Compression
  • The retention period for the local backups
  • The retention period for the cloud backups
06 AM Today ClusterControl Encryption

ClusterControl advanced backup features for cloud, parallel compression, network bandwidth limit, encryption, etc. Your company can take advantage of cloud scalability and pay-as-you-go pricing for growing storage needs. You can design a backup strategy to provide both local copies in the datacenter for immediate restoration, and a seamless gateway to cloud storage services from AWS, Google and Azure.

ClusterControl with upload to backup
ClusterControl Encryption
ClusterControl Encryption

Advanced TLS and AES 256-bit encryption and compression features support secure backups that take up significantly less space in the cloud.

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