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Zimbra / Ubuntu Backup and Restore


Ubuntu Backup and Restore

1: Backing-up

To do this, become root with

sudo su

and go to the root of your filesystem (we use this in our example, but you can go anywhere you want your backup to end up, including remote or removable drives.)

cd /

Now, below is the full command I would use to make a backup of my system:

tar cvpzf backup.tgz --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found --exclude=/backup.tgz --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/sys /

Since I always keep an update copy of my mail server, I’ll exclude that from the backup as well

tar cvpzf backup.tgz --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found --exclude=/backup.tgz --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/sys --exclude=/backup --exclude=/opt/zimbra /

Now, lets explain this a little bit.
The ‘tar’ part is, obviously, the program we’re going to use.

‘cvpfz’ are the options we give to tar, like ‘create archive’ (obviously),
‘preserve permissions’(to keep the same permissions on everything the same), and ‘gzip’ to keep the size down.

Next, the name the archive is going to get. backup.tgz in our example.

Next comes the root of the directory we want to backup. Since we want to backup everything; /

Now come the directories we want to exclude. We don’t want to backup everything since some dirs aren’t very useful to include. Also make sure you don’t include the file itself, or else you’ll get weird results.
You might also not want to include the /mnt folder if you have other partitions mounted there or you’ll end up backing those up too. Also make sure you don’t have anything mounted in /media (i.e. don’t have any cd’s or removable media mounted). Either that or exclude /media.

EDIT : kvidell suggests below we also exclude the /dev directory. I have other evidence that says it is very unwise to do so though.

Well, if the command agrees with you, hit enter (or return, whatever) and sit back&relax. This might take a while.

Afterwards you’ll have a file called backup.tgz in the root of your filessytem, which is probably pretty large. Now you can burn it to DVD or move it to another machine, whatever you like!

At the end of the process you might get a message along the lines of ‘tar: Error exit delayed from previous errors’ or something, but in most cases you can just ignore that.

Alternatively, you can use Bzip2 to compress your backup. This means higher compression but lower speed. If compression is important to you, just substitute
the ‘z’ in the command with ‘j’, and give the backup the right extension.
That would make the command look like this:

tar cvpjf backup.tar.bz2 --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found --exclude=/backup.tar.bz2 --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/sys /

2: Restoring

Warning: Please, for goodness sake, be careful here. If you don’t understand what you are doing here you might end up overwriting stuff that is important to you, so please take care!

Well, we’ll just continue with our example from the previous chapter; the file backup.tgz in the root of the partition.

Once again, make sure you are root and that you and the backup file are in the root of the filesystem.

One of the beautiful things of Linux is that This’ll work even on a running system; no need to screw around with boot-cd’s or anything. Of course, if you’ve rendered your system unbootable you might have no choice but to use a live-cd, but the results are the same. You can even remove every single file of a Linux system while it is running with one command. I’m not giving you that command though!

Well, back on-topic.
This is the command that I would use:

 tar xvpfz backup.tgz -C /

Or if you used bz2;

 tar xvpfj backup.tar.bz2 -C /

WARNING: this will overwrite every single file on your partition with the one in the archive!

Just hit enter/return/your brother/whatever and watch the fireworks. Again, this might take a while. When it is done, you have a fully restored Ubuntu system! Just make sure that, before you do anything else, you re-create the directories you excluded:

mkdir proc
mkdir lost+found
mkdir mnt
mkdir sys

And when you reboot, everything should be the way it was when you made the backup!

2.1: GRUB restore
Now, if you want to move your system to a new harddisk or if you did something nasty to your GRUB (like, say, install Windows), You’ll also need to reinstall GRUB.
There are several very good howto’s on how to do that here on this forum, so i’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Instead, take a look here:


There are a couple of methods proposed. I personally recommend the second one, posted by remmelt, since that has always worked for me.

Re: HOWTO: Restore GRUB (if your MBR is messed up)

Isn’t it easier to do this:

1. Pop in the Live CD, boot from it until you reach the desktop.
2. Open a terminal window or switch to a tty.
3. Type “grub
4. Type “root (hd0,6)”, or whatever your harddisk + boot partition numbers are (my /boot is at /dev/sda7, which translates to hd0,6 for grub).
5. Type “setup (hd0)”, ot whatever your harddisk nr is.
6. Quit grub by typing “quit”.
7. Reboot.

I may be missing your point though, if so, please forgive me

Originally Posted by vnbuddy2002
Restore GRUB quite simple in Ubuntu, instead going through all the “gain root access” and play with shell commands, you can use the Ubuntu installation CD to restoreit without going through all kinds of hassles.Here are the steps:1. Boot your computer up with Ubunto CD
2. Go through all the process until you reech “[!!!] Disk Partition”
3. Select Manual Partition
4. Mount your appropriate linux partions


6. Finish the manual partition
7. Say “Yes” when it asks you to save the changes
8. It will give you errors saying that “the system couldn’t install …..” after that
9. Ignore them, keep select “continue” until you get back to the Ubuntu installation menu
10. Jump to “Install Grub ….”
11. Once it is finished, just restart your computer

Good luck!.

Zimbra Emergency Repairs

Preparing to Back Up

Before we begin, make sure that you are logged in as a user that can perform the tasks outlined here.

It is always good practice to backup your copy of Zimbra in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

To prevent changes to any Zimbra databases during the backup processes you may wish to use:

>su zimbra
>zmcontrol stop

to terminate Zimbra.

If you get some kind of error, you may want to make sure that Zimbra has completly stopped by running:

>ps auxww | grep zimbra

and kill any left over processes such as the log.

Alternatively as root you could run the following command to kill all Zimbra user owned processes instantly (use wisely):

>ps auxww | awk '{print $1" "$2}' | grep zimbra | kill -9 `awk '{print $2}'`

Backing Up

Make sure that the copy location has enough space to support your backup copy (i.e. the /tmp folder probably isn’t the best location).

Since all of the components Zimbra needs are stored in the Zimbra folder itself, you can simply copy the folder to a safe location.

It may be possible to create a cron job to do these tasks automatically.

Copy Command: cp -Rp /opt/zimbra [location path]

Depending on your hardware and the amount of data contained in your Zimbra installation, this process can take a while.

Note: It is a very good idea to tag your installation with the version/build of zimbra that will be backed up (ie 3.0.0_GA_156) and the date of backup. You’ll need this later.


Before restoring, you should make sure that all of the processes accociated with the damaged/failed Zimbra installation are terminated. Failure to terminate all of the processes could have dire consquences. See “Preparing to Backup” for additional info.

====Rename your “broken” Zimbra installation.’

You may be able to scavenge data, if needed. If you simply do not want the old data, you can skip this part.

>mv /opt/zimbra [new location i.e. /tmp/zimbra-old]

You may want to move it completly out of the /opt folder just to be safe.

Copy your backup Zimbra installation to the /opt folder and name it “zimbra”.

>cp -rp [location of backup] /opt
>mv /opt/[backup name] /opt/zimbra

Restore to Existing/Backup Zimbra Server

In the event of a failure, you can either restore your /opt/zimbra folder to a server that is not currently running Zimbra and download a dummy copy of Zimbra and run an upgrade in order to clean everything up and make it run correctly again (see next section), or you may restore the backup to an existing Zimbra server. This will only work if the existing server is running the EXACT SAME VERSION of Zimbra as the backup you want to restore. Also, this has been tested and seems to work well with CE 4.5.8, but did not work with 4.5.7. This may be, for example, a backup email server that you want to always keep current with last night’s backup, so it can replace the production server on short notice in the event of a disaster.

Simply set up your backup server identical to your production server (preferably the same OS, but necessarily the exact same version of Zimbra). Any modifications you made or packages you added for your production server with regards to extra anti-spam protection, etc., should also be added to this server. Shut down Zimbra on the backup server. Copy /opt/zimbra from your backup to the backup server.

chown -R zimbra:zimbra /opt/zimbra

Start Zimbra. Everything should work. The advantage to this method is that you can retain all your customizations (anti-spam modifications, for example) that would otherwise have been lost in the “upgrade” method. Also, this allows you to use a script to keep a backup server current without having to reinstall Zimbra after each time the backup server is made current, or before putting the backup server into production in the event of a failure.

Downloading a Dummy Copy of Zimbra

Now, we need to know what build/version of zimbra you were running. If you followed the backup instructions above, then the backup folder should be tagged with the version/build you have backed up.

You need to download the full install of the Zimbra version you were running. You may find all Zimbra releases at:Sourceforge.

If you don’t know your version number, you can find it by:

Method 1– view install_history file.

cat /opt/zimbra/.install_history

Method 2– dont think this will work unless you did a bunch of chroots.

zmcontrol -v

Both of the above listed methods were from thisforum post

Installing the Dummy Copy of Zimbra

Once you have downloaded the tar file, you will need to uncompress it by:

>tar -xvzf [name of file].tgz

This will create a folder in the directory named “zcs”, cd to it and run the install script:

>cd zcs

WARNING: Do not run the script with the -u option. You will remove all of your backup data & you must run the script as root, NOT ZIMBRA.

The script will remove the existing packages, and install them again.The script will attempt to stop Zimbra Services and “UPGRADE FAILED – exiting”. This is okay, simply rerun the script, and it will install normally.

If you experence error 389, -1, connection refused errors, please search the Forums. These errors are covered extensivly.

Resetting Permissions

If you are up and running now, you may have one more hurdle to overcome: permissions.

You may need to reset the permissions on the message store by running the following:


This is potentially a dangerous suggestion, but if you have trouble getting tomcat to start even after you run zmfixperms, try running (worked for ZCS 4.5.7 CE)

chown -R zimbra:zimbra /opt/zimbra

Of course, you must run


again after that. It appears that zmfixperms is supposed to chown zimbra:zimbra on something, but it misses it. This way, you chown EVERYTHING zimbra:zimbra, and zmfixperms puts back things that need to be owned as root, postfix, etc.

Disaster Recovery

In the unfortunate event of losing your complete server or installation, the following will get you up and running.

This has been tested successfully on v5.0.5

  • The machine you are recovering tomusthave the same hostname as the original machine.
  • Once you have your OS and all pre-requisites installed. Download and install Zimbra as normal.
  • Once Zimbra is installed, stop all Zimbra services and move/rename the /opt/zimbra folder:
sudo -u zimbra /opt/zimbra/bin/zmcontrol shutdown
mv /opt/zimbra /tmp/zimbra-old
  • Uncompress the most recent backup file to the /opt/zimbra folder
mkdir /opt/zimbra
tar zxvf [backup file] -C /opt/zimbra

or if you prefer…

tar zxvf [backup file] -C /tmp/zimbra-backup
cp -Rp /tmp/zimbra-backup /opt/zimbra
  • Fix the Zimbra permissions
chown -R zimbra:zimbra /opt/zimbra
  • Restart all Zimbra services
sudo -u zimbra /opt/zimbra/bin/zmcontrol startup
zmcontrol startup

You should now be able to access Zimbra as normal.