Backups Features

Backups are automatically-created disk images of Droplets. Enabling backups for Droplets enables system-level backups at weekly intervals, which provides a way to revert to an older state or create new Droplets.

Backups are taken once per week, and each backup is retained for four weeks. We store backups in the same datacenter as the corresponding Droplet.

You can enable backups for any Droplet, but they may not be ideal for Droplets with heavy I/O workloads, such as database servers, because disk writes have degraded performance while the backup is being created.

DigitalOcean’s automated backups do not include volumes, but you can take manual backups with volume snapshots.

How Do DigitalOcean Backups Work?

DigitalOcean uses a snapshot-based backup system that creates a point-in-time image based on the current state of a Droplet. This process happens automatically within a pre-determined scheduling window, and is completed in the background while the Droplet is running. This provides system-level backups of your server without powering down.

The following process occurs on your Droplet when a backup occurs:

  1. A snapshot of the live system is taken, creating a crash-consistent, point-in-time image.
  2. The snapshot is backed up off-disk.
  3. The snapshot is deleted once the backup is complete.

A crash-consistent backup allows the system to capture all of the data on disk exactly as it was at a single point in time. This means that the data is backed up in a consistent state.

This is called a crash-consistent backup because it saves every piece of data that was committed to the disk at the moment that the snapshot occurs. The data saved is consistent with the data that would be available if the system crashed at that exact point and had to recover on boot.

Backup Schedule

Once you’ve enabled backups, they are scheduled to occur weekly during a specific time window which is automatically assigned by DigitalOcean. To view the time window when your backups start, navigate to your Droplet in the DigitalOcean Control Panel, and click the Backups link.

In the Backups block, there is a line like this:

Backups are currently enabled. They are scheduled to start weekly Sunday 3 PM to Monday 2 PM.

Backups for your Droplet start sometime during the specified time window, but depending on when the backup is started and how large of a disk is being backed up, it may not complete by the end of the window listed.