Free PostgreSQL Backup Book? Yes Please!

April 26th, 2013 | Published in Database, News, Tech Talk | 16 Comments


A little while ago, I wrote to the PostgreSQL general mailing list that I’d been approached by Packt Publishing to contribute a quick manual on doing PostgreSQL backups: Instant PostgreSQL Backup and Restore How-to. They’re the same guys who published Greg Smith’s PostgreSQL 9.0 High Performance book which everyone seems to swear by.

The goal of the backup book was to distill the PostgreSQL documentation, tools, and Wiki down to a collection of short step-by-step guides much like the O’Reilly nutshell series. A lot of the backup recipes we DBAs trade back and forth as a matter of course may not be so obvious, and I threw a couple tricks in for advanced users, to boot.

Well, here’s your chance to spring a free copy! The marketing folks have given the go-ahead to hold a giveaway, and have set aside four copies for lucky winners. A longer description of the How-to is on their site.

All they want to know is what you, as a prospective reader, find most interesting or potentially useful about the book. My comment section will be open until May 8th for replies along these lines. If you are selected, Packt will email you with information on how to get your free digital copy. If your comment catches our attention, you’re one step closer. If you want a print copy, they’re available from Amazon separately.

So remember:

  • Free book
  • What interests you about it?
  • Submit a comment
  • You’re entered

I look forward to forcing Packt to do some community service by handing out free copies of the book, and you should too. :)


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16 Comments

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  1. SAB says:

    April 26th, 2013 at 11:31 am [#]


    Streaming replication is the most important for me.

    Best regards


  2. Darren Duncan says:

    April 26th, 2013 at 6:54 pm [#]


    You know, this ebook is only $5. I think its better off to just buy a copy and support it rather than trying to get that for free. For anyone it would help, it would be $5 well spent. And even to take a chance, its inexpensive anyway. I bought one as soon as I heard about it.


    1. Shaun says:

      April 27th, 2013 at 9:52 am [#]


      Hey, I appreciate it. I didn’t really do it for the money, if you’ll believe that. Packt is pretty well known, and it’s a great way to distribute necessary material. If they’re willing to market and get the word out, I can host a giveaway or two on their dime. :)


      1. Darren Duncan says:

        April 28th, 2013 at 10:11 pm [#]


        When I said support the book by buying it, I wasn’t just thinking about the author, but also the publisher; I assume Packtd would have spent a reasonable amount of resources in editing and formatting it, and that Shaun didn’t do all that, even if a majority of the overall work was the author.


        1. Shaun says:

          April 29th, 2013 at 10:45 am [#]


          You’re totally right. Better them than me. ;)


  3. Rob Hansen says:

    April 27th, 2013 at 6:19 am [#]


    Backups are useless unless they get made. I’ve seen too many sites with complex manual backup strategies wherein people rarely actually do the backups because it’s too hard, and they don’t automate it because the methodology is too complex for their programming abilities. I’d be very interested in seeing strategies for completely automating complex backup plans.

    (This may seem like low-hanging fruit, but I really do believe this is a real need.)


    1. Shaun says:

      April 27th, 2013 at 10:06 am [#]


      True. Unfortunately though I do mention a couple spots where the commands could be scripted and automated, and even recommend the reader do so, it’s not explicitly described. It’s kinda hard to boil that down into a step-by-step without providing the actual backup scripts. Packt only wanted about 30-ish pages, which to me seems more like a long-ish chapter of a larger book. Automating things in UNIX is kinda beyond the scope of this kind of book.

      At the same time, even the longest and most complex recipes I go over are easily automated. I know because I’ve used these exact techniques since at least 2005. Command-line tools are good for that, at least. :)

      The real question is: what to do with the backups after they’re created? Tape magazine? Deduplicated SAN? Offsite? Disaster recovery data center? Pick at least two. We use all four. I strongly urged readers to give it some thought, but hopefully they already have.


    2. Greg Smith says:

      April 30th, 2013 at 9:05 pm [#]


      Right now the only tool that’s directly addressing the need for plug and play disaster recovery tools is barman. It’s free software. I’m glad that Shaun’s book has documented a lot more of the hard work that goes into doing this yourself. Given how complicated it is though, a lot of people would be way better off to just figure out how to install barman and use it instead. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than you’ll do yourself until you’ve put a lot of work into it.


      1. Shaun says:

        May 1st, 2013 at 4:10 pm [#]


        This is going to sound retarded, but I’ve never heard of barman before. I’ve been “rolling my own” so long, I haven’t even looked for alternatives. I’ll have to check it out.

        Thanks, Greg!


  4. Stephan says:

    April 27th, 2013 at 7:31 am [#]


    Looking forward to gain some insights on how to improve our postgres backup strategies.


  5. Aziz Sharief says:

    April 27th, 2013 at 2:10 pm [#]


    Not to say that the official Postgres documentation is not good enough for a typical Postgres DBA to implement the backup and recovery mechanisms. Also, it would be unfair to say there is not much of a support available online, especially when several experts on the IRC (RhodiumToad, Davidfetter, Depesz, Peerce, Andrew and so many more) are almost available 24/7 and offer super elegant custom solutions for free to scores of seekers on several Postgres implementation issues not just limited to backup/recovery. All this truly helps but then a newcomer to Postgres is bogged down by the issue of “a thousand ways to skin a cat” and it is difficult to say which one is best suited to their situation. This is especially true when it comes to physical backups. The “Postgres Backup Book” can help iron out a lot of that confusion by elaborating and throwing in a lot of detail like actual scripts and commands. The book, I believe, must narrow down on a select few standard techniques of skinning the cat and should do so by providing as much detail as possible. It would be nice to aggregate the most common problems encountered during backup/recovery and solutions to fix the same. The book should also support these techniques per supported major version on Postgres because the newer versions have advanced mechanisms to the same things when compared to older versions. I look forward to enjoying more such books in future and hopefully a lot thicker.


    1. Shaun says:

      April 27th, 2013 at 8:08 pm [#]


      Yeah. They specifically asked for about 30-ish pages. Maybe someone else will write a real backup manual, or they’ll have me do a longer one some time later.


  6. Jeff says:

    April 29th, 2013 at 8:48 am [#]


    I’ll be honest, I’m still learning the ropes so any concise information is appreciated. I’ve deployed dozens of PostgreSQL servers these past few months but I’m afraid our backup policy isn’t up to par. Would love to learn straight from the pros!


  7. hao says:

    April 29th, 2013 at 4:19 pm [#]


    I bought this book two weeks ago.

    When I got the book, I thought it was a total rip-off, I paid $20+ (price+shipping) for a book with effective pages of 34?

    But after I went through the book. I really liked the book. I consider the dollars very well spent, because those step by step instructions are clear, and easy to follow. And the commands are mostly correct.

    To improve it:

    It would be better if you put a backup and restore together. For example, page 14 talk about how to do a simple backup, but, the restore is explained on page 27.

    Also, when you explain advanced topics, I could use more explanations.

    I would put future emphsis in advanced topics, things like pg_dump can be found everywhere.

    I like this focused-topics approach, maybe a book on replication exclusively, more than 2 nodes and how to failover etc.


  8. markgeng says:

    April 30th, 2013 at 2:55 am [#]


    Seriously, the hope learns to backup and restore. Thank you to provide technical and valuable experience. thank you


  9. Pierre says:

    May 3rd, 2013 at 8:04 am [#]


    This seems like a nice addition to my collection :) More seriously, summing up in a few pages how to set up streaming replication, how to do pitr… These are things any DBA should have on his desk to help restoring a database after a crash at 2AM.


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