MGT Insight: How our backup system works

Ana Oliveira Sousa —  January 25, 2018 — Leave a comment

In any business, it’s imperative to have insurance for primary business tools, such as property insurance. When it comes to e-commerce businesses, a thoroughly thought backup strategy is your insurance. In case of an emergency, you can restore your shop very fast and get back to business as soon as possible.

Every bit of information on a website is of extreme importance and losing any of this information could cause major business’ loss. A 2007 University of Texas study showed that 43 percent of businesses that suffer massive data loss never reopen. Many of these companies end up closing their doors for good within two years of a significant data loss. You cannot predict what is going to happen in the future, but you can insure yourself against it causing a major problem to your business by backing up your Magento shop.

At MGT-Commerce we understand how backups are of extreme importance, so we always strive to create the best backup solutions in the market. Most recently we have developed the MGT System Manager to handle our Full Machine Image Backups (AWS AMIs).

MGT System Manager

MGT System Manager

What is MGT System Manager?

MGT System Manager is an internal software we have developed which enables us to do automatic hourly full backups (AMI) of all customer instances in all AWS regions. In case of a ‘disaster’, we can revert a system back to a specific point in time.
What you should keep in mind is the retention period, backups older than five days are automatically deleted. However, this is just our default setting. A customer can request for a longer period.
We keep them for five days because it is effective and does not cost too much.

In addition to this, the MGT System Manager has a very useful function called Website Monitoring. This checks if the HTTP status code of the website in path /checkout/cart is 200. The status code 200 means the site is healthy. In case it’s not status code 200 we automatically receive an alert, via our support ticketing system, and of course, we will promptly check the issue.

MGT System Manager - Website Monitoring

How does it work?

In order to create full backups of all your AWS instances, we use the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) system. Putting it in simple words, an AMI is an image of your entire shop and thus the actual file/backup of your shop. The process works just as a scheduled job. Every hour the MGT System Manager automatically triggers the creation of AMIs in your AWS account. All AMIs are available and accessible to our customers on their AWS console.

Do I need backup even in AWS?

Yes. We cannot stress enough how backup is necessary even in AWS. Even though Amazon Elastic Block Storage is designed to be highly reliable, no system is completely resistant to data loss. For instance, there is no way to fully prevent human error as incorrect deletes and crypto-ware attacks.

Tackling over 20000 backups a day: What is the challenge behind any Backup-solution?

Having to do more than 20000 backups per day is a serious business especially when the Amazon Console does not offer the possibility to create automatic AMIs. Besides, we came to the conclusion that our original solution, in which Full Machine Image backups were done daily, was still too risky – a lot can happen within 24 hours – and we wanted to offer our customers more precision.

Following this, we saw the need to create an efficient solution to provide our customers with the ability to roll back/restore their shop smoothly to a specific point in time. We wanted something secure, with no latency, that would not affect performance, and that of course, would not incur extra costs to our customers.

How do we restore files?

There are two options:

  • Restoring an instance by using an AMI: This restores the whole instance to the state that it was when the backup was done, in a new instance. This approach might be needed in sporadic cases, for example, when your instance has a failed state in AWS due to underlying host problems.
  • Restoring specific files by mounting volumes: Through this method, we can restore specific files or folder, depending on customers request, to the state they were before.

What can you get out of it?

  • Security: Access is restricted, and all backups are encrypted.
  • Fast service: This system allows us to access the data very fast in case of an emergency, and in only about 20 minutes we can restore your full shop.
  • Precision: Restore it to any point in time.
  • Flexible data recovery: Backup and restore anything— from a single file to an entire instance.

Conclusion: What have we achieved?

With MGT System Manager we were finally able to provide the customers with an efficient way to have hourly automatic full backups, which otherwise would not be possible via the Amazon console. In addition, we are delighted to have developed a solution which does not affect the performance of your shop since there is no loss of performance on creating AMIs as they are also in the Cloud. With today’s 24×7 always-on business model, failure is not an option, but unfortunately, disasters can occur for many unforeseen reasons.
That’s when a trusted backup solution, as MGT System Manager, can come to the rescue.

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