Containers have become a great facility to easily deploy applications, whether locally or on orchestrated clusters.

However, containers are ephemeral, meaning their data should be stored externally. When possible, they can be stored using databases or object storage. Most often though, you will need to resort to using data volumes, mounted inside your containers. How then can be perform a backup of this data?


Data location is known

Contrarily to the traditional situation in application deployment, the location of critical data in containers is known, since it uses named volumes. We can thus connect to the Docker socket or the API managing the volumes to list them and perform the backups.


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Introducing Bivac

Bivac is a tool created to do just that. It can be plugged to either a Docker socket, a Rancher API, or a Kubernetes server. It will then list the volumes on the platform and automatically back them up on a regular basis, using Restic to transfer the data to an object storage provider (e.g. AWS S3).

In addition, Bivac can provide metrics on the backup statuses as it exposes a Prometheus endpoint.

Using the REST client, backups can be listed, executed on demand, and it is also possible to restore volumes.


Bivac can easily be installed a binary or a container. Here are some examples, deploying it locally on Docker, or using Kubernetes.

Using Docker

The following docker-compose.yml file can be used to deploy the Bivac manager:

version: '3'
    image: camptocamp/bivac:2.2
    command: "manager -v"
      - "8182:8182"
      - "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock:ro"
      BIVAC_AGENT_IMAGE: camptocamp/bivac:2.1
      BIVAC_SERVER_PSK: super-secret-psk
      RESTIC_PASSWORD: not-so-good-password
      BIVAC_TARGET_URL: s3:my-bucket

Additionally, you can also deploy a local Prometheus server to retrieve the metrics. See the full example.

Using Kubernetes

The easiest way to deploy a Bivac manager on Kubernetes is to use Camptocamp’s Helm chart:

$ helm repo add camptocamp
$ helm install camptocamp/bivac --version 1.0.0

Using the CLI

The CLI can be downloaded from the releases page. Once the binary is installed, you can use it to list backups, perform backups, or restore data.

Connecting to the manager

The CLI needs to be connected to the Bivac manager, using its HTTP URL and PSK (defined in the deployment). This can be performed using either the --remote.address and --server.psk options, or by setting the `BIVAC_REMOTE_ADDRESS` and `BIVAC_SERVER_PSK`

Listing backups

The bivac volumed command lets you list the volumes managed by Bivac:

$ bivac volumes

ID Name Hostname Mountpoint LastBackupDate LastBackupStatus Backing up

mysql mysql testing /var/lib/mysql 2019-06-13 01:33:44 Success false

ssh_config ssh_config testing /etc/ssh 2019-06-13 01:43:12 Success false

Perform backups

While Bivac automatically performs backups at a regular interval, the CLI can also be used to trigger backups manually:

$ bivac backup ssh_config

Backing up `ssh_config'...

ID: ssh_config

Name: ssh_sshconfig

Mountpoint: /etc/ssh

Backup date: 2019-06-13 09:35:38

Backup status: Success




backup [0]

Files: 0 new, 0 changed, 11 unmodified

Dirs: 0 new, 1 changed, 0 unmodified

Added to the repo: 702 B

processed 11 files, 299.375 KiB in 0:01

snapshot 1c21ee5b saved

forget [0] Applying Policy: keep the last 15 daily snapshots

snapshots for (host [testing]):

keep 15 snapshots:

ID Time Host Tags Reasons Paths


1c21ee5b 2019-06-13 09:35:32 testing daily snapshot /etc/ssh


1 snapshots

repository contains 18 packs (44 blobs) with 317.585 KiB

processed 44 blobs: 0 duplicate blobs, 0B duplicate

load all snapshots

find data that is still in use for 15 snapshots

[0:00] 100.00% 15 / 15 snapshots

found 42 of 44 data blobs still in use, removing 2 blobs

will remove 0 invalid files

will delete 1 packs and rewrite 0 packs, this frees 763B

counting files in repo

[0:00] 100.00% 17 / 17 packs

finding old index files

saved new indexes as [f027febd]

remove 2 old index files

[0:00] 100.00% 1 / 1 packs deleted


Restore data

Bivac stores restic backups on object storage and lets you restore them using the backup restore command:

$ bivac restore canary

Restoring `canary'...

ID: canary

Name: canary

Mountpoint: /var/lib/docker/volumes/canary/_data

Backup date: 2019-06-13 07:56:36

Backup status: Success


restore [0] restoring <Snapshot 15583d4b of [/var/lib/docker/volumes/canary/_data] at 2019-06-13 07:56:13.905600644 +0000 UTC by root@testing> to /var/lib/docker/volumes/canary/_data/h3bf5TfCxKtisKYF

snapshots [0] [{"time":"2019-06-13T07:56:13.905600644Z","tree":"e6790a6cf2fd100d01b3bcac795c8787411b0879c85d60514f109403d26890bf","paths":["/var/lib/docker/volumes/canary/_data"],"hostname":"testing","username":"root","id":"15583d4b11605ec552be08fd1fd76d7549aefa0104ab4111f629737d5c7f7a17","short_id":"15583d4b"}]

Manage a remote Restic repository

If you want to list volume's snapshots or retrieve some stats, you will have to use Restic and Bivac provides a good abstraction to do it.

Let's say you have volume called canary and you want to list the associate snapshots, then you'll simply run:

$ bivac restic --volume canary snapshots

ID Time Host Tags Paths


9d22678e 2019-01-13 03:35:01 canary /mnt/geoserver_geodata


1 snapshots

In case, you'd like to run a more complex command, you must use -- as follow:

$ bivac restic --volume canary -- forget --prune --keep-daily 15


My backup failed because the remote repository is locked.

The first thing to do is to check the date and the user who created the lock. From these informations, you should be able to determine if the lock is "legit" (a backup is running) or if it's a remnant of a forgotten backup. If you think it's safe to remove it, then you can run:

$ bivac backup [VOLUME_ID] --force

With the option --force, Bivac will unlock the Restic repository before doing a backup.

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Rancher (Cattle)



Backup a volume

Restore a volume

Manage a remote Restic repository





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Going further

More features are available, such as the ability to manage a remote Restic repository. See the documentation for more information.


Bivac allows to easily backup data, monitor their status and restore them, whether you are using raw Docker, Rancher volumes or Kubernetes.

Contact us for more information!

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