Recovery

In PostgreSQL terminology, recovery is the process of starting a PostgreSQL instance using an existing backup. The PostgreSQL recovery mechanism is very solid and rich. It also supports point-in-time recovery (PITR), which allows you to restore a given cluster up to any point in time, from the first available backup in your catalog to the last archived WAL. (The WAL archive is mandatory in this case.)

In CloudNativePG, you can't perform recovery in place on an existing cluster. Recovery is instead a way to bootstrap a new Postgres cluster starting from an available physical backup.

Note

For details on the bootstrap stanza, see Bootstrap.

The recovery bootstrap mode lets you create a cluster from an existing physical base backup. You then reapply the WAL files containing the REDO log from the archive.

WAL files are pulled from the defined recovery object store.

Base backups can be taken either on object stores or using volume snapshots (from version 1.21).

Warning

Recovery using volume snapshots had an initial release on 1.20.1. Because of the amount of progress on the feature for 1.21.0, to use volume snapshots, we strongly advise you to upgrade to 1.21 or more advanced releases.

You can achieve recovery from a recovery object store in two ways:

  • We recommend using a recovery object store, that is, a backup of another cluster created by Barman Cloud and defined by way of the barmanObjectStore option in the externalClusters section.
  • Alternatively, you can use an existing Backup object in the same namespace.

Both recovery methods enable either full recovery (up to the last available WAL) or up to a point in time. When performing a full recovery, you can also start the cluster in replica mode (see replica clusters for reference).

Important

If using replica mode, make sure that the PostgreSQL configuration (.spec.postgresql.parameters) of the recovered cluster is compatible with the original one from a physical replication standpoint.

For recovery using volume snapshots:

  • Use a consistent set of VolumeSnapshot objects that all belong to the same backup and are identified by the same cnpg.io/cluster and cnpg.io/backupName labels. Then, recover through the volumeSnapshots option in the .spec.bootstrap.recovery stanza, as described in Recovery from VolumeSnapshot objects.

Recovery from an object store

You can recover from a backup created by Barman Cloud and stored on a supported object store. After you define the external cluster, including all the required configuration in the barmanObjectStore section, you need to reference it in the .spec.recovery.source option.

This example defines a recovery object store in a blob container in Azure:

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
metadata:
  name: cluster-restore
spec:
  [...]

  superuserSecret:
    name: superuser-secret

  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      source: clusterBackup

  externalClusters:
    - name: clusterBackup
      barmanObjectStore:
        destinationPath: https://STORAGEACCOUNTNAME.blob.core.windows.net/CONTAINERNAME/
        azureCredentials:
          storageAccount:
            name: recovery-object-store-secret
            key: storage_account_name
          storageKey:
            name: recovery-object-store-secret
            key: storage_account_key
        wal:
          maxParallel: 8

Important

By default, the recovery method strictly uses the name of the cluster in the externalClusters section as the name of the main folder of the backup data within the object store. This name is normally reserved for the name of the server. You can specify a different folder name using the barmanObjectStore.serverName property.

Note

This example takes advantage of the parallel WAL restore feature, dedicating up to 8 jobs to concurrently fetch the required WAL files from the archive. This feature can appreciably reduce the recovery time. Make sure that you plan ahead for this scenario and correctly tune the value of this parameter for your environment. It will make a difference when you need it, and you will.

Recovery from VolumeSnapshot objects

Warning

When creating replicas after recovering the primary instance from the volume snapshot, the operator might end up using pg_basebackup to synchronize them. This behavior results in a slower process, depending on the size of the database. This limitation will be lifted in the future when support for online backups and PVC cloning are introduced.

CloudNativePG can create a new cluster from a VolumeSnapshot of a PVC of an existing Cluster that's been taken using the declarative API for volume snapshot backups. You must specify the name of the snapshot, as in the following example:

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
metadata:
  name: cluster-restore
spec:
  [...]

  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      volumeSnapshots:
        storage:
          name: <snapshot name>
          kind: VolumeSnapshot
          apiGroup: snapshot.storage.k8s.io

In case the backed-up cluster was using a separate PVC to store the WAL files, the recovery must include that too:

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
metadata:
  name: cluster-restore
spec:
  [...]

  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      volumeSnapshots:
        storage:
          name: <snapshot name>
          kind: VolumeSnapshot
          apiGroup: snapshot.storage.k8s.io

        walStorage:
          name: <snapshot name>
          kind: VolumeSnapshot
          apiGroup: snapshot.storage.k8s.io

Warning

If bootstrapping a replica-mode cluster from snapshots, to leverage snapshots for the standby instances and not just the primary, we recommend that you:

  1. Start with a single instance replica cluster. The primary instance will be recovered using the snapshot, and available WALs form the source cluster.
  2. Take a snapshot of the primary in the replica cluster.
  3. Increase the number of instances in the replica cluster as desired.

Recovery from a Backup object

If a Backup resource is already available in the namespace in which you need to create the cluster, you can specify the name using .spec.bootstrap.recovery.backup.name, as in the following example:

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
metadata:
  name: cluster-example-initdb
spec:
  instances: 3

  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      backup:
        name: backup-example

  storage:
    size: 1Gi

This bootstrap method allows you to specify just a reference to the backup that needs to be restored.

The previous example implies the application database and its owning user is the default one, app. If the PostgreSQL cluster being restored was using different names, you can specify them as documented in Configure the application database.

Additional considerations

Whether you recover from a recovery object store, a volume snapshot, or an existing Backup resource, the following considerations apply:

  • The application database name and the application database user are preserved from the backup that's being restored. The operator doesn't currently attempt to back up the underlying secrets, as this is part of the usual maintenance activity of the Kubernetes cluster.
  • To preserve the original postgres user password, you need to properly configure enableSuperuserAccess and supply a superuserSecret.
  • By default, the recovery continues up to the latest available WAL on the default target timeline (latest). You can optionally specify a recoveryTarget to perform a point-in-time recovery (see Point in time recovery (PITR)).

Important

Consider using the barmanObjectStore.wal.maxParallel option to speed up WAL fetching from the archive by concurrently downloading the transaction logs from the recovery object store.

Point in time recovery (PITR)

Instead of replaying all the WALs up to the latest one, after extracting a base backup, you can ask PostgreSQL to stop replaying WALs at any given point in time. PostgreSQL uses this technique to achieve PITR. The presence of a WAL archive is mandatory.

Important

PITR requires you to specify a recovery target by using the options described in Recovery targets.

The operator generates the configuration parameters required for this feature to work if you specify a recovery target.

PITR from an object store

This example uses a recovery object store in Azure that contains both the base backups and the WAL archive. The recovery target is based on a requested timestamp.

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
metadata:
  name: cluster-restore-pitr
spec:
  instances: 3

  storage:
    size: 5Gi

  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      # Recovery object store containing WAL archive and base backups
      source: clusterBackup
      recoveryTarget:
        # Time base target for the recovery
        targetTime: "2023-08-11 11:14:21.00000+02"

  externalClusters:
    - name: clusterBackup
      barmanObjectStore:
        destinationPath: https://STORAGEACCOUNTNAME.blob.core.windows.net/CONTAINERNAME/
        azureCredentials:
          storageAccount:
            name: recovery-object-store-secret
            key: storage_account_name
          storageKey:
            name: recovery-object-store-secret
            key: storage_account_key
        wal:
          maxParallel: 8

In this example, you had to specify only the targetTime in the form of a timestamp. You didn't have to specify the base backup from which to start the recovery.

The backupID option is the one that allows you to specify the base backup from which to initiate the recovery process. By default, this value is empty.

If you assign a value to it (in the form of a Barman backup ID), the operator uses that backup as the base for the recovery.

Important

You need to make sure that such a backup exists and is accessible.

If you don't specify the backup ID, the operator detects the base backup for the recovery as follows:

  • When you use targetTime or targetLSN, the operator selects the closest backup that was completed before that target.
  • Otherwise, the operator selects the last available backup, in chronological order.

PITR from VolumeSnapshot objects

The example that follows uses:

  • A Kubernetes volume snapshot for the PGDATA containing the base backup from which to start the recovery process. This snapshot is identified in the recovery.volumeSnapshots section and called test-snapshot-1.
  • A recovery object store in MinIO containing the WAL archive. The object store is identified by the recovery.source option in the form of an external cluster definition.

The recovery target is based on a requested timestamp.

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
metadata:
  name: cluster-example-snapshot
spec:
  # ...
  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      source: cluster-example-with-backup
      volumeSnapshots:
        storage:
          name: test-snapshot-1
          kind: VolumeSnapshot
          apiGroup: snapshot.storage.k8s.io
      recoveryTarget:
        targetTime: "2023-07-06T08:00:39"
  externalClusters:
    - name: cluster-example-with-backup
      barmanObjectStore:
        destinationPath: s3://backups/
        endpointURL: http://minio:9000
        s3Credentials:
          accessKeyId:
            name: minio
            key: ACCESS_KEY_ID
          secretAccessKey:
            name: minio
            key: ACCESS_SECRET_KEY

Note

If the backed-up cluster had walStorage enabled, you also must specify the volume snapshot containing the PGWAL directory, as mentioned in Recovery from VolumeSnapshot objects.

Warning

It's your responsibility to ensure that the end time of the base backup in the volume snapshot is before the recovery target timestamp.

Recovery targets

Here are the recovery target criteria you can use:

targetTime
Time stamp up to which recovery proceeds, expressed in RFC 3339 format. (The precise stopping point is also influenced by the exclusive option.)
targetXID
Transaction ID up to which recovery proceeds. (The precise stopping point is also influenced by the exclusive option.) Keep in mind that while transaction IDs are assigned sequentially at transaction start, transactions can complete in a different numeric order. The transactions that are recovered are those that committed before (and optionally including) the specified one.
targetName
Named restore point (created with pg_create_restore_point()) to which recovery proceeds.
targetLSN
LSN of the write-ahead log location up to which recovery proceeds. (The precise stopping point is also influenced by the exclusive option.)
targetImmediate
Recovery ends as soon as a consistent state is reached, that is, as early as possible. When restoring from an online backup, this means the point where taking the backup ended.

Important

The operator can retrieve the closest backup when you specify either targetTime or targetLSN. However, this isn't possible for the remaining targets: targetName, targetXID, and targetImmediate. In such cases, it's important to specify backupID, unless the last available backup in the catalog is acceptable.

This example uses a targetName-based recovery target:

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
[...]
  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      source: clusterBackup
      recoveryTarget:
        backupID: 20220616T142236
        targetName: 'restore_point_1'
[...]

You can choose only a single one among the targets in each recoveryTarget configuration.

Additionally, you can specify targetTLI to force recovery to a specific timeline.

By default, the previous parameters are considered to be inclusive, stopping just after the recovery target, matching the behavior in PostgreSQL.

You can request exclusive behavior, stopping right before the recovery target, by setting the exclusive parameter to true. The following example shows this behavior, relying on a blob container in Azure for both base backups and the WAL archive:

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
metadata:
  name: cluster-restore-pitr
spec:
  instances: 3

  storage:
    size: 5Gi

  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      source: clusterBackup
      recoveryTarget:
        backupID: 20220616T142236
        targetName: "maintenance-activity"
        exclusive: true

  externalClusters:
    - name: clusterBackup
      barmanObjectStore:
        destinationPath: https://STORAGEACCOUNTNAME.blob.core.windows.net/CONTAINERNAME/
        azureCredentials:
          storageAccount:
            name: recovery-object-store-secret
            key: storage_account_name
          storageKey:
            name: recovery-object-store-secret
            key: storage_account_key
        wal:
          maxParallel: 8

Configure the application database

For the recovered cluster, you can configure the application database name and credentials with additional configuration. To update application database credentials, you can generate your own passwords, store them as secrets, and update the database to use the secrets. Or you can also let the operator generate a secret with a randomly secure password for use. See Bootstrap an empty cluster for more information about secrets.

This example configures the application database app with owner app and supplied secret app-secret.

apiVersion: postgresql.cnpg.io/v1
kind: Cluster
[...]
spec:
  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      database: app
      owner: app
      secret:
        name: app-secret
      [...]

With this configuration, the following happens after recovery is complete:

  1. If database app doesn't exist, a new database app is created.
  2. If user app doesn't exist, a new user app is created.
  3. if user app isn't the owner of the database, user app is granted as owner of database app.
  4. If the value of username matches the value of owner in the secret, the password of application database is changed to the value of password in the secret.

Important

For a replica cluster with replica mode enabled, the operator doesn't create any database or user in the PostgreSQL instance. These are recovered from the original cluster.

How recovery works under the hood

You can use the data uploaded to the object storage to bootstrap a new cluster from an existing backup. The operator orchestrates the recovery process using the barman-cloud-restore tool (for the base backup) and the barman-cloud-wal-restore tool (for WAL files, including parallel support, if requested).

For details and instructions on the recovery bootstrap method, see Bootstrap from a backup.

Important

If you're not familiar with how PostgreSQL PITR works, we suggest that you configure the recovery cluster as the original one when it comes to .spec.postgresql.parameters. Once the new cluster is restored, you can then change the settings as desired.

The way it works is that the operator injects an init container in the first instance of the new cluster, and the init container starts recovering the backup from the object storage.

Important

The duration of the base backup copy in the new PVC depends on the size of the backup, as well as the speed of both the network and the storage.

When the base backup recovery process is complete, the operator starts the Postgres instance in recovery mode. In this phase, PostgreSQL is up, though not able to accept connections, and the pod is healthy according to the liveness probe. By way of the restore_command, PostgreSQL starts fetching WAL files from the archive. (You can speed up this phase by setting the maxParallel option and enabling the parallel WAL restore capability.)

This phase terminates when PostgreSQL reaches the target (either the end of the WAL or the required target in case of PITR. You can optionally specify a recoveryTarget to perform a PITR. If left unspecified, the recovery continues up to the latest available WAL on the default target timeline (latest).

Once the recovery is complete, the operator sets the required superuser password into the instance. The new primary instance starts as usual, and the remaining instances join the cluster as replicas.

The process is transparent for the user and is managed by the instance manager running in the pods.

Restoring into a cluster with a backup section

A manifest for a cluster restore might include a backup section. This means that,after recovery, the new cluster starts archiving WALs and taking backups if configured to do so.

For example, this section is part of a manifest for a cluster bootstrapping from the cluster cluster-example-backup. In the storage bucket, it creates a folder named recoveredCluster, where the base backups and WALs of the recovered cluster are stored.

  backup:
    barmanObjectStore:
      destinationPath: s3://backups/
      endpointURL: http://minio:9000
      serverName: "recoveredCluster"
      s3Credentials:
        accessKeyId:
          name: minio
          key: ACCESS_KEY_ID
        secretAccessKey:
          name: minio
          key: ACCESS_SECRET_KEY
    retentionPolicy: "30d"

  externalClusters:
  - name: cluster-example-backup
    barmanObjectStore:
      destinationPath: s3://backups/
      endpointURL: http://minio:9000
      s3Credentials:

Don't reuse the same barmanObjectStore configuration for different clusters. There might be cases where the existing information in the storage buckets could be overwritten by the new cluster.

Warning

The operator includes a safety check to ensure a cluster doesn't overwrite

a storage bucket that contained information. A cluster that would overwrite existing storage remains in the state Setting up primary with pods in an error state. The pod logs show: ERROR: WAL archive check failed for server recoveredCluster: Expected empty archive.

Important

If you set the cnpg.io/skipEmptyWalArchiveCheck annotation to enabled in the recovered cluster, you can skip the safety check. We don't recommend skipping the check because, for the general use case, the check works fine. Skip this check only if you're familiar with the PostgreSQL recovery system, as severe data loss can occur.