Backup and Restore

A Tableau Server administrator should perform regular database maintenance, monitor disk usage on the server, clean up unnecessary files to free up space on the server, and back up Tableau Server and its data. Taking these steps can help ensure that Tableau Server runs with maximum efficiency.

You can use the Tableau Services Manager (TSM) command line tool to back up and restore your Tableau data. Tableau data includes data extract files, as well as Tableau Server's own PostgreSQL database, which stores workbook and user metadata, and server configuration data. Tableau Server log files capture activity and can help you diagnose problems. Logs are written to folders on the server and you can archive and remove them to save disk space.

Note: 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.

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.

Platform compatibility

You can use a backup created with Tableau Server on Linux to restore Tableau Server on Windows version 2018.2 and later.

You cannot use a backup created with Tableau Server on Linux to restore earlier versions of Tableau Server on Windows (version 2018.1 and earlier).

You can use a backup created with Tableau Server on Windows (version 2018.2 and earlier) to restore Tableau Server on Linux. For more information about restoring a Windows backup on Tableau Server on Linux, see Migrate Tableau Server from Windows to Linux(Link opens in a new window).

Disk Space Usage for Backup and Restore

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. In multi-node Tableau Server environments you need to estimate the required disk space on each node.

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

Restore disk space requirements

You must have adequate disk space for the database restore process to run successfully.

To restore Tableau Server:

  • On controller nodes, you need free space equal to at least the size of the backup archive.

  • On repository nodes, you need free space equal to at least three times the size of the repository data in the backup archive, plus 250 MB, plus the size of the pgsql data directory.

  • On file store nodes, you need free space equal to at least twice the size of the dataengine folder in the backup archive.

Best Practices for Backing Up Tableau Server

We recommend following these security and performance best practices.

Protect backup file

While configuration secrets are encrypted when stored on disk internally, when these configurations are exported to a backup file, some secrets are written into the file in plain text. It is up to the administrator to take measures to protect the backup file. There are a variety of options available:

  • Write the file to an encrypted file system.
  • Write the file to a disk that is physically protected and restricted to specific users.
  • Encrypt the backup file.

Maximize backup efficiency

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.

Optimizing with topology configurations:

  • 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 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.

Optimizing with backup strategies:

Backup is a resource intensive process. If possible, doing your backups during off peak hours is a generally a good strategy. But this however, depends on your requirements and how often Tableau Server data is updated and what your restore requirements. For a detailed explanation of backup and disaster recovery, see Tableau Server Disaster Recovery. Here are some backup strategies and adopt them to your requirements

  • Type of storage: Solid State disks are recommended in general for backups. SSD helps make your backups faster and complete sooner compared to traditional spinning disks.
  • Backup compression: You have the option of running your backups with or without compression. When you do your backup with compressions, your backup size will be comparatively smaller, but you may see a slower performance. So if your goal is more focused on speed, choose the --skip-compression option:

    Use 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.

  • Snapshot backup: This option is only available if you have configured your Tableau Server with External File Store. Although the performance of snapshot backups depend on the type of network attached storage, in general snapshot backups are faster than the traditional Tableau Server backups. For more information see, Tableau Server External File Store.


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