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RE: Proposal: More flexible backup/restore via pg_dump

From: Peter Mount <petermount(at)it(dot)maidstone(dot)gov(dot)uk>
To: "'Philip Warner'" <pjw(at)rhyme(dot)com(dot)au>, Peter Mount <petermount(at)it(dot)maidstone(dot)gov(dot)uk>, Giles Lean <giles(at)nemeton(dot)com(dot)au>
Cc: Zeugswetter Andreas SB <ZeugswetterA(at)wien(dot)spardat(dot)at>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: RE: Proposal: More flexible backup/restore via pg_dump
Date: 2000-06-27 11:38:40
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-hackers

Peter Mount
Enterprise Support
Maidstone Borough Council
Any views stated are my own, and not those of Maidstone Borough Council

-----Original Message-----
From: Philip Warner [mailto:pjw(at)rhyme(dot)com(dot)au]
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2000 11:31 AM
To: Peter Mount; Giles Lean
Cc: Zeugswetter Andreas SB; pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: RE: [HACKERS] Proposal: More flexible backup/restore via

At 10:55 27/06/00 +0100, Peter Mount wrote:
>comments prefixed with PM...
>PM: So can most other Unix based formats. On the intranet server here, I
>pg_dump into /tmp, then include them in a tar piped to the tape drive.

Since you are using an intermediate file, there would be no change. fseek
is only an issue on tape drives and pipes, not files on disk. I suspect
that most people can afford the overhead of restoring the backup file to
disk before restoring the database, but it'd be nice to start out as
flexible as possible. In the back of my mind is the fact that when the WAL
and storage manager are going, raw data backups should be possible (and
fast) - but then again, maybe it's a pipe dream.

PM: Actually, with MS-SQL here, I use it's "Backup Device" (M$'s name for a
file ;-) ). It then has a scheduled job that backs up into that file (a full
backup empties the file first, then the incremental's append to it). Another
server then just backsup this single file.

PM: Anyhow, when I need to do a restore, I'm presented with a list of what
backup's are stored on that "device", and can restore from there.

>PM: The problem with blobs hasn't been with dumping them (I have some Java
>code that does it into a compressed zip file), but restoring them - you
>can't create a blob with a specific OID, so any references in existing
>tables will break. I currently get round it by updating the tables after
>restore - but it's ugly and easy to break :(

I assumed this would have to happen - hence why it will not be in the first
version. With all the TOAST stuff coming, and talk about the storage
manager, I still live in hope of a better BLOB system...

PM: I do as well. I've got a project coming up soon where the database will
be storing thumbnails of photographs (with details of where the full images
are stored, what film/negative# the original is from (for 35mm), notes, etc.
Anyhow, the current BLOB system may not cope with it, and the kludges I've
used in the past probably won't help.

>PM: Having a set of api's (either accessible directly into the backend,
>and/or via some fastpath call) would be useful indeed.

By this I assume you mean APIs to get to database data, not backup data.

PM: I was thinking of the backup data (in a similar way you can with SQL7).
A user could (if they have permissions) trigger a backup or a restore.

eg, my log database here is backed up using:
	BACKUP DATABASE eventlog TO eventdb WITH INIT, NAME=N'Eventlog
Backup', DESCRIPTION=N'The NT & Exchange Event Logs'

Here, eventlog is the database name, eventdb the "device", ie the file it
writes to, INIT erases the "device" and NAME/DESCRIPTION are written to the
device to help locate the backup when restoring.

Anyhow, this is possible future stuff ;-)

>This is probably an issue. One of the motivations for this utility it to
>allow partial restores (eg. table data for one table only), and
>arbitrarilly ordered restores. But I may have a solution:
>PM: That would be useful. I don't know about CPIO, but tar stores the TOC
>the start of each file (so you can actually join two tar files together and
>still read all the files). In this way, you could put the table name as the
>"filename" in the header, so partial restores could be done.

Well, the way my plans work, I'll use either a munged OID, or a arbitrary
unique ID as the file name. All meaningful access has to go via the TOC.
But that's just a detail; the basic idea is what I'm implementing. 

It's very tempting to say tape restores are only possible in the order in
which the backup file was written ('pg_restore --stream' ?), and that
reordering/selection is only possible if you put the file on disk.

PM: It's an idea for those with large (>=2Gb) databases. Most filesystems
don't like an individual file to be larger (or equal) to 2Gb. You may want
to keep this in mind when writing to a file (ie, break at 1Gb as we do with

>PM: How about IOCTL's? I know that ArcServe on both NT & Unixware can seek
>through the tape, so there must be a way of doing it.

Maybe; I know BackupExec also does some kind of seek to update the TOC at
end of a backup (which is what I need to do). Then again, maybe that's just
a rewind. I don't want to get into custom tape formats...

PM: Some tape drives support a "mark", but I've not seen/used one. When
watching ArcServe, it seems to rewind to the beginning, then "seek" to the
begining of the backup. But once it's done that, it knows where it is, and
seeks forward from there.

Do we have any tape experts out there?

>PM: Tar can do this sequentially, which I've had to do many times over the
>years - restoring just one file from a tape, sequential access is probably
>the only way.

It's just nasty when the user reorders the restoration of tables and
metadata. In the worst cast it might be hundreds of scans of the tape. I'd
hate to have my name associated with something so unfriendly (even if it is
the operators fault).

PM: That's true, but sometimes (and it happens here a lot), it's

>PM: The tar spec should be around somewhere - just be careful, the obvious
>source I was thinking of would be GPL'd, and we don't want to be poluted

That was my problem. I've got some references now, and I'll look at them.
At least everything I've written so far can be put in PG.

Philip Warner                    |     __---_____
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