Backing up a Liferay Portal Installation

Once you have an installation of Liferay Portal running, you should implement a comprehensive backup plan. You’ll be very thanking for your backup procedures in case some kind of catastrophic hardware failure occurs. Liferay Portal isn’t very different from any other Java web application that might be running on your application server. Nevertheless, there are some specific components you should include in your backup plan.

Backing up Source Code

If you have extended Liferay Portal or have written any plugins, they should be stored in a source code repository such as Git, Subversion, or CVS, unless you’re Linus Torvalds, and then tarballs are okay too (that’s a joke). Your source code repository should be backed up on a regular basis to preserve your ongoing work. This probably goes without saying in your organization since nobody wants to lose source code that’s taken months to produce. Nevertheless, it’s important to include source code in a Liferay Portal backup plan.

Next, let’s examine the items that need to be backed up in your Liferay Portal installation.

Backing up Liferay Portal’s File System

Liferay Portal’s properties configuration files, such as portal-setup-wizard.properties and portal-ext.properties, are stored in the Liferay Home folder, which is generally one folder up from where your application server is installed (see the Installation and Setup (not yet written) article for specific details for your application server). Your Liferay Portal installation’s properties configuration files should absolutely be backed up. In fact, it’s best to back up your entire application server and entire the contents of your Liferay Home folders.

If you’ve followed the non-plugin procedure (see the (not yet written) article) to modify your Ehcache configuration, you’ll have cache configuration files in the deploy location of Liferay Portal. You’ll need to back up this location. If you’re using the plugin procedure (i.e., the recommended procedure), your cache configuration settings are stored in your source code repository, which should be backed up separately.

Liferay Portal stores configuration files, search indexes, and cache information in a folder called /data in Liferay Home. If you’re using the File System store or the Advanced File System store, the documents and media repository (a.k.a., document library) is also stored here by default. It’s always import to back up your /data folder.

The files that comprise Liferay Portal’s OSGi runtime are stored in a folder called /osgi in Liferay Home. This folder contains the JAR files for all of the apps and modules that you’ve deployed to Liferay Portal. The /osgi folder also contains other required JAR files, configuration files, and log files. It’s also important to back up your /osgi folder.

The /logs folder in Liferay Home contains Liferay Portal’s log files. Liferay Portal’s log files are important to back up since if a problem occurs on Liferay Portal, the information in Liferay Portal’s log files often provides valuable information for determining what went wrong. The /data, /osgi, and /logs folders are all contained in the Liferay Home folder. Thus, if you’re backing up both your application server folder and your Liferay Home folder, you’re in good shape.

Remember that if you’ve modified the location where the document library stores files, you should also back up this location.

That covers the file system locations used by Liferay Portal. Next, let’s discuss how to back up Liferay Portal’s database.

Backing up Liferay Portal’s Database

Liferay Portal’s database is the central repository for all of the portal’s information. It’s the most important component that needs to be backed up. You can do this by backing up the database live (if your database allows this) or by exporting the database and then backing up the exported file. For example, MySQL ships with a mysqldump utility which allows you to export the entire database and data into a large SQL file. This file can then be backed up. In case of a database failure, this file can be used to recreate the state of the database at the time the dump was created.

If you’re using Liferay Portal’s Documents and Media Library with the Jackrabbit JSR-170 repository to store documents in a database, the Jackrabbit database should also be backed up. If you’ve placed your search index into a database (not recommended; see the (not yet written) article for information on using Cluster Link or Solr), that database should be backed up as well

Search indexes can be backed up as well, if you wish to avoid reindexing your entire portal after restoring your database. This is easiest to do if you have a separate Solr environment on which your index is stored. If you’re in a clustered configuration and you’re replicating indexes, you’ll need to back up each index replica.

Restoring your application server, your Liferay Home folder, the locations of any file system-based media repositories, and your database from a backup system should give you a functioning portal. Restoring search indexes should avoid the need to reindex when you bring your site back up after a catastrophic failure. Good, consistent backup procedures are key to successfully recovering from a hardware failure.

If you’re a Liferay Portal subscriber, you should apply the patches provided by Liferay whenever they’re available. Liferay provides tools to make this process easy. See the (not yet written) article to learn how to apply patches to your Liferay Portal installation.

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