Binary Backups - Enterprise features

Note This feature was introduced in v1.1.0.

Binary backups are full backups of Dgraph that are backed up directly to cloud storage such as Amazon S3 or any Minio storage backend. Backups can also be saved to an on-premise network file system shared by all alpha instances. These backups can be used to restore a new Dgraph cluster to the previous state from the backup. Unlike exports, binary backups are Dgraph-specific and can be used to restore a cluster quickly.

Configure Backup

Backup is only enabled when a valid license file is supplied to a Zero server OR within the thirty (30) day trial period, no exceptions.

Configure Amazon S3 Credentials

To backup to Amazon S3, the Alpha must have the following AWS credentials set via environment variables:

Environment Variable Description AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID or AWS_ACCESS_KEY AWS access key with permissions to write to the destination bucket. AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY or AWS_SECRET_KEY AWS access key with permissions to write to the destination bucket. AWS_SESSION_TOKEN AWS session token (if required).

Configure Minio Credentials

To backup to Minio, the Alpha must have the following Minio credentials set via environment variables:

Environment Variable Description MINIO_ACCESS_KEY Minio access key with permissions to write to the destination bucket. MINIO_SECRET_KEY Minio secret key with permissions to write to the destination bucket.

Create a Backup

To create a backup, make an HTTP POST request to /admin to a Dgraph Alpha HTTP address and port (default, “localhost:8080”). Like with all /admin endpoints, this is only accessible on the same machine as the Alpha unless whitelisted for admin operations. Execute the following mutation on /admin endpoint using any GraphQL compatible client like Insomnia, GraphQL Playground or GraphiQL.

Backup to Amazon S3

mutation {
  backup(input: {destination: "s3://<bucketname>"}) {
    response {

Backup to Minio

mutation {
  backup(input: {destination: "minio://<bucketname>"}) {
    response {

Backup to Minio

Backup to Google Cloud Storage via Minio Gateway

  1. Create a Service Account key for GCS and get the Credentials File
  2. Run MinIO GCS Gateway Using Docker

    docker run -p 9000:9000 --name gcs-s3 \
    -v /path/to/credentials.json:/credentials.json \
    -e "GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS=/credentials.json" \
    -e "MINIO_ACCESS_KEY=minioaccountname" \
    -e "MINIO_SECRET_KEY=minioaccountkey" \
    minio/minio gateway gcs yourprojectid
  3. Run MinIO GCS Gateway Using the MinIO Binary

    export GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS=/path/to/credentials.json
    export MINIO_ACCESS_KEY=minioaccesskey
    export MINIO_SECRET_KEY=miniosecretkey
    minio gateway gcs yourprojectid

Test Using MinIO Browser

MinIO Gateway comes with an embedded web-based object browser that outputs content to To test that MinIO Gateway is running, open a web browser, navigate to, and ensure that the object browser is displayed. ![](upload://vIfitZ4GalE0d5efp7TMWMiMQLl.png)

Test Using MinIO Client

MinIO Client is a command-line tool called mc that provides UNIX-like commands for interacting with the server (e.g. ls, cat, cp, mirror, diff, find, etc.). mc supports file systems and Amazon S3-compatible cloud storage services (AWS Signature v2 and v4). MinIO Client is a command-line tool called mc that provides UNIX-like commands for interacting with the server (e.g. ls, cat, cp, diff, find, etc.). mc supports file systems and Amazon S3-compatible cloud storage services (AWS Signature v2 and v4).

  1. Configure the Gateway using MinIO Client

Use the following command to configure the gateway:

mc config host add mygcs http://gateway-ip:9000 minioaccesskey miniosecretkey
  1. List Containers on GCS

Use the following command to list the containers on GCS:

mc ls mygcs

A response similar to this one should be displayed:

[2017-02-22 01:50:43 PST]     0B ferenginar/
[2017-02-26 21:43:51 PST]     0B my-container/
[2017-02-26 22:10:11 PST]     0B test-container1/

Disabling HTTPS for S3 and Minio backups

By default, Dgraph assumes the destination bucket is using HTTPS. If that is not the case, the backup will fail. To send a backup to a bucket using HTTP (insecure), set the query parameter secure=false with the destination endpoint in the destination field:

mutation {
  backup(input: {destination: "minio://<bucketname>?secure=false"}) {
    response {

Overriding Credentials

The accessKey, secretKey, and sessionToken parameters can be used to override the default credentials. Please note that unless HTTPS is used, the credentials will be transmitted in plain text so use these parameters with discretion. The environment variables should be used by default but these options are there to allow for greater flexibility.

The anonymous parameter can be set to “true” to a allow backing up to S3 or Minio bucket that requires no credentials (i.e a public bucket).

Backup to NFS

mutation {
  backup(input: {destination: "/path/to/local/directory"}) {
    response {

A local filesystem will work only if all the Alphas have access to it (e.g all the Alphas are running on the same filesystems as a normal process, not a Docker container). However, a NFS is recommended so that backups work seamlessly across multiple machines and/or containers.

Forcing a Full Backup

By default, an incremental backup will be created if there’s another full backup in the specified location. To create a full backup, set the forceFull field to true in the mutation. Each series of backups can be identified by a unique ID and each backup in the series is assigned a monotonically increasing number. The following section contains more details on how to restore a backup series.

mutation {
  backup(input: {destination: "/path/to/local/directory", forceFull: true}) {
    response {

Encrypted Backups

Encrypted backups are a Enterprise feature that are available from v20.03.1 and v1.2.3 and allow you to encrypt your backups and restore them. This documentation describes how to implement encryption into your binary backups. Starting with v20.07.0, we also added support for Encrypted Backups using encryption keys sitting on Vault.

New flag “Encrypted” in manifest.json

A new flag “Encrypted” is added to the manifest.json. This flag indicates if the corresponding binary backup is encrypted or not. To be backward compatible, if this flag is absent, it is presumed that the corresponding backup is not encrypted.

For a series of full and incremental backups, per the current design, we don’t allow mixing of encrypted and unencrypted backups. As a result, all full and incremental backups in a series must either be encrypted fully or not at all. This flag helps with checking this restriction.

AES And Chaining with Gzip

If encryption is turned on an alpha, then we use the configured encryption key. The key size (16, 24, 32 bytes) determines AES-128/192/256 cipher chosen. We use the AES CTR mode. Currently, the binary backup is already gzipped. With encryption, we will encrypt the gzipped data.

During backup: the 16 bytes IV is prepended to the Cipher-text data after encryption.


Backup is an online tool, meaning it is available when alpha is running. For encrypted backups, the alpha must be configured with the “encryption_key_file”. Starting with v20.07.0, the alpha can alternatively be configured to interface with Vault server to obtain keys.

Note encryption_key_file or vault_* options was used for encryption-at-rest and will now also be used for encrypted backups.

Restore from Backup

The restore utility is a standalone tool today. A new flag --encryption_key_file is added to the restore utility so it can decrypt the backup. This file must contain the same key that was used for encryption during backup. Alternatively, starting with v20.07.0, the vault_* options can be used to restore a backup.

The dgraph restore command restores the postings directory from a previously created backup to a directory in the local filesystem. Restore is intended to restore a backup to a new Dgraph cluster not a currently live one. During a restore, a new Dgraph Zero may be running to fully restore the backup state.

The --location (-l) flag specifies a source URI with Dgraph backup objects. This URI supports all the schemes used for backup.

The --postings (-p) flag sets the directory to which the restored posting directories will be saved. This directory will contain a posting directory for each group in the restored backup.

The --zero (-z) flag specifies a Dgraph Zero address to update the start timestamp and UID lease using the restored version. If no zero address is passed, the command will complain unless you set the value of the --force_zero flag to false. If do not pass a zero value to this command, the timestamp and UID lease must be manually updated through Zero’s HTTP ‘assign’ endpoint using the values printed near the end of the command’s output.

The --backup_id optional flag specifies the ID of the backup series to restore. A backup series consists of a full backup and all the incremental backups built on top of it. Each time a new full backup is created, a new backup series with a different ID is started. The backup series ID is stored in each manifest.json file stored in every backup folder.

The --encryption_key_file flag is required if you took the backup in an encrypted cluster and should point to the location of the same key used to run the cluster.

The --vault_* flags specifies the Vault server address, role id, secret id and field that contains the encryption key that was used to encrypt the backup.

The restore feature will create a cluster with as many groups as the original cluster had at the time of the last backup. For each group, dgraph restore creates a posting directory p<N> corresponding to the backup group ID. For example, a backup for Alpha group 2 would have the name .../r32-g2.backup and would be loaded to posting directory p2.

After running the restore command, the directories inside the postings directory need to be manually copied over to the machines/containers running the alphas before running the dgraph alpha command. For example, in a database cluster with two Alpha groups and one replica each, p1 needs to be moved to the location of the first Alpha and p2 needs to be moved to the location of the second Alpha.

By default, Dgraph will look for a posting directory with the name p, so make sure to rename the directories after moving them. You can also use the -p option of the dgraph alpha command to specify a different path from the default.

Restore from Amazon S3

$ dgraph restore -p /var/db/dgraph -l s3://<bucketname>

Restore from Minio

$ dgraph restore -p /var/db/dgraph -l minio://<bucketname>

Restore from Local Directory or NFS

$ dgraph restore -p /var/db/dgraph -l /var/backups/dgraph

Restore and Update Timestamp

Specify the Zero address and port for the new cluster with --zero/-z to update the timestamp.

$ dgraph restore -p /var/db/dgraph -l /var/backups/dgraph -z localhost:5080

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
  • Documentation on Azure Blob Storage, or anything how to integrate this to AKS?
  • For GCS, any documentation for integration with GKE?

The documentation for Azure Blob Storage and GCS are in master.
Example source code is available on implementation (terraform, helm charts):