In this guest blog post, W. Curtis Preston (aka “ Mr Backup”) poses the question ‘Do you need to backup EC2 VMs?’. W. Curtis Preston is an expert in backup & recovery systems; a space he has been working in since 1993. He has written three books on the subject, Backup & Recovery, Using SANs and NAS, and Unix Backup & Recovery. As well as being the Chief Technical Architect at Druva, Mr. Preston is also an independent consultant and writer and has spoken at over 300 seminars and conferences around the world.
Why and how to backup EC2 VMs
So let’s consider a typical Amazon EC2 VM. It’s got a root volume, and one or more data volumes. So, in an Amazon EC2 VM there a few things that can happen. The same things that can happen in VMs in physical servers anywhere else. Something can happen and just randomly corrupt the data, that does happen. Another thing that can happen is that the data becomes corrupted accidentally or maliciously by someone hacking that VM and then deleting a database, or deleting a file-system or just deleting a whole bunch of files. Or, think about this being a Windows VM and it actually gets some sort of RansomWare virus so you end up corrupting or encrypting all of this data, and you need to go back to the pre-encrypted version.
But there is something that can happen to an Amazon EC2 VM that might not happen to a VM anywhere else and that is someone accidentally or maliciously just deletes the VM or deletes the data. If someone either accidentally or maliciously deletes the VM and you don’t have a snapshot of it or some other kind of backup of it, that VM is gone forever.
What can happen if you don’t backup EC2 VMs?
There’s a story, if you haven’t heard of it, you need to know about it, and it’s a company called codespaces.com. Go google that phrase and read the very sad story of a company that was in AWS, had an EC2 VM, probably multiple EC2 VMs. Their account was hacked and they were held for ransom, things didn’t go well with the hacker and he just deleted their EC2 VMs and with it, their entire company, and they ceased to exist that day.
Options to backup EC2 VMs
There are a couple of different ways to backup EC2 VMs. One is to put an agent inside of the VM, the other we might call it, the official way to backup an EC2 VM is to create an EBS snapshot. You can create the snapshot in one of three ways. You can either do it manually, say on-demand. You can do it automatically, you can schedule the VM to automatically create a snapshot of itself every so often. There are challenges with that because you might need to interface with something going on in the application, and then you end up writing scripts and other things that get more complicated.
You can also use third-party manager such as what Druva provides, with the CloudRanger product, to manage this whole process so you don’t need to any kind of scripting or anything like that.
Druva CloudRanger: Amazon EC2 VM Backup Dashboard
But there is no question that you need to backup these VMs, because if someone deletes it or if something bad happens to the data inside the VM just like it can happen in any other kind of VM or physical server anywhere, you need to be able to recover from that, and you are only going to be able to do that if you are backing it up.
I hope I have answered the question on whether or not you need to backup your EC2 VMs.
The Druva CloudRanger EC2 VM backup solution
If you are would like to know more about the Druva CloudRanger solution which will manage the whole process of managing your EC2 VM backups without the need for any scripting, get in touch today to arrange a free demo where we discuss your specific EC2 VM backup requirements in more detail. If you want to get started straight away, you can sign up for a free trial of Druva CloudRanger and link up your AWS environment with a simple IAM role in just a few minutes.