Back up Tableau Server data

Regularly backing up Tableau Server is an important step in proper administration and maintenance of your server. You can use the tsm maintenance restore command to restore Tableau Server backups created using tabadmin backup and tsm maintenance backup. Database backups made in other ways, and virtual machine snapshots are not valid sources for restoring Tableau Server, so it is critical that you have an up-to-date backup.

You can only restore from a backup that has the same type of identity store as the running server. For example, a backup from a server using local authentication can be restored to a Tableau Server initialized with local authentication, but a backup from a server using Active Directory authentication cannot be restored to a server initialized with local authentication.

Tableau Server data includes data extract files, as well as the Tableau PostgreSQL database, which contains workbook and user metadata, and configuration data. When you use TSM to create a backup, all of this data is saved in a single file with a .tsbak extension. If you are running a distributed installation of Tableau Server data from all the nodes is backed up.

The frequency of your backups depends on your environment, including how much use your server gets and how much and frequently the content and users change. Any changes or updates that happen after your backup will be lost if there is a system failure and you need to restore Tableau Server. The more activity there is, the more often you need to back the server up.

In addition to regular backups, you should always create a backup before upgrading to a new version of Tableau Server.

To help protect against data loss, after you create the backup, you should store the .tsbak file on a computer that is not a part of your Tableau Server installation.

Disk Space Usage for Backup

The free disk space required to create a backup varies depending on the amount of data in the Tableau Server repository and file store services, and their collocation with the tabadmincontroller service. During backups, the background tasks for cleaning up old extracts are temporarily paused. This means that, for the duration of the backup, extract refreshes will leave extra files in place, adding to disk space usage. If your backup takes a long time, or if your organization uses many extracts that are regularly updated, this can result in a significant amount of temporary disk space usage. These temporary files will be removed after the backup is complete.

The following table lists the disk space requirements for backup based on whether the node hosts the repository, file store, controller, or some combination of them.

Repository File Store Controller Disk Space Required
   

3x repository data + 250 MB

To obtain an estimate of the repository data, check the size of <data directory>/pgsql/data/base directory.

To obtain the exact size of the repository data, open the backup file and use the size of the workgroup.pg_dump file.

   

1.5x file store data

To obtain an estimate of file store data (extracts, flows, etc.), check the size of <data directory>/dataengine directory.

    3x repository data + 250 MB + 2.5x file store data
  3x repository data + 250 MB + 1.5x file store data
  3x repository data + 250 MB + 1.5x file store data
  3x repository data + 250 MB + 2.5x file store data
3x repository data + 250 MB + 1.5x file store data

Optimizing Tableau Server Backup

There are several ways you can maximize backup efficiency. Your environment can impact how effective each of these is, so test with your data to see what works best.

  • Co-locating File Store on the same node as the Administration Controller can reduce the length of time it takes to back up Tableau Server by reducing or eliminating the need to compress and transfer data between nodes during the backup process. This is especially true if your organization uses many extracts.

    Co-locating the repository (pgsql) with the Administration Controller node can also help to reduce back up time, but the time savings is less significant than that of the File Store.

    The Administration Controller is usually on the initial node, unless you have had an initial node failure and moved the controller to another node.

  • Use the the --skip-compression option when backing up Tableau Server. This creates the backup without using compression, and results in a larger backup file but can reduce the amount of time it takes for the backup to complete. For more information, see tsm maintenance backup.

Create a backup using the TSM command line interface (CLI)

Use the tsm maintenance backup command to create a backup of the data managed by Tableau Server. This data includes data extract files and the Tableau PostgreSQL database, which contains workbook and user metadata.

Note: When backing up Tableau Server on Linux to a network location, the unprivileged user must have write access to the network share where the backup files are written or the backup will fail.

To back up server configuration data, use the tsm settings command. When you use the tsm maintenance backup command, the current date is appended to the backup file:

tsm maintenance backup -f <backup_file> -d

For more information, see tsm maintenance backup.

Create a pre-upgrade backup

You should always create a backup before upgrading Tableau Server. You can create a backup while Tableau Server is running and minimize the amount of time the server is unavailable during upgrade. The process for creating a pre-upgrade backup is the same as for creating regular backups, with one additional consideration for distributed installations.

Note: Uninstall Tableau Server from any nodes that you are not including in your new installation to avoid conflicts between the older nodes and the new installation.

Script the backup process

If you back up often, you might want to create a script that performs the backup and related tasks for you. These tasks include:

  • Clean up files and folders before running the backup.

  • Running the backup itself.

  • Copying the backup file to a separate computer for safekeeping.

This section discusses tsm commands you can use together to perform a backup and related tasks.

For additional information about scripting TSM commands, see the Tableau Community Forums(Link opens in a new window).

Remove log files and clear temporary folders

You can clean old Tableau Server log file and temporary files to reduce the time it takes to create a backup, and to ensure the backup file is as small as possible.

To clean log files older than a few days, run the following command:

tsm maintenance cleanup

Run the backup

Note: When backing up Tableau Server on Linux to a network location, the unprivileged user must have write access to the network share where the backup files are written or the backup will fail.

To create the backup, use the tsm maintenance backup command:

tsm maintenance backup --file <backup_file> --append-date

Note the following about the command:

  • Add --append-date to the command to include the date in the backup file name.

  • The backup file is assembled in a temporary location in the data directory and then written to the directory defined in the TSM basefilepath.backuprestore variable:

    /var/opt/tableau/tableau_server/data/tabsvc/files/backups/<filename>.tsbak

    For more information about where backup files are written, and how to change that location, see tsm File Paths. Note: Even when you change the backup location, the backup process uses a temporary location in the data directory to assemble the backup file.

Copy the backup file to another computer

As a best practice, after the backup is created, copy the backup file to another location that is separate from Tableau Server.

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