Backups are crucial for protecting your data from catastrophic loss and preparing a recovery procedure. The chef-automate backup create command creates a single backup that contains data for all products deployed with Chef Automate, including Chef Infra Server and Chef Habitat Builder on-prem. By default, Chef Automate stores backups to the filesystem in the directory /var/opt/chef-automate/backups. You can also configure Chef Automate to store backups in Amazon S3 buckets.

Backup Space Requirements

This amount of space needed for a backup varies depending on your Chef Automate use. You need enough free space for:

  • Complete copies of each Chef Automate service PostgreSQL database
  • Complete copies of your configuration files
  • Elasticsearch snapshots of your Chef Automate configuration and data, such as converge, scan, and report data. You will need enough disk space for the each Elasticsearch snapshot and the delta–or the list of changes–for each successive snapshot
  • Chef Habitat Builder artifacts

Backup to a Filesystem

To store backups in a configurable backup directory, the backup directory should be on network-attached storage or synced periodically to a disk on another machine. This best practice ensures that you can restore from your backup data during a hardware failure.

The default backup directory is /var/opt/chef-automate/backups. If it does not exist, the deployment process creates it.

To configure your Chef Automate installation’s backup directory to another location:

  1. Create a backup_config.toml file in your current directory with the following content. Replace /path/to/backups with the path to your backup directory:

      path = "/path/to/backups"
  2. Run the following command to apply your configuration:

    chef-automate config patch backup_config.toml
  3. Remove the now-redundant backup_config.toml file.

Store a Filesystem Backup in a Single-file Archive

To store backups offline in single-file archives, single-file archives must include both the configuration data and the reporting data contained in the standard backup.

The configured backup directory contains both the timestamp-based directory for the configuration and the reporting data stored in the automate-elasticsearch-data directory.

A timestamp-based directory has a date-based name, such as 20180518010336, in the automate-elasticsearch-data directory.

To provide externally-deployed Elasticsearch nodes access to Chef Automate’s built-in backup storage services, you must configure Elasticsearch backup settings separately from Chef Automate’s primary backup settings.

Backup to S3

To store backups in an existing Amazon S3 bucket, use the supported S3-related settings below:

  location = "s3"
  # name (required): The name of the bucket
  name = "<bucket name>"

  # endpoint (required): The endpoint for the region the bucket lives in.
  # See
  endpoint = "https://<region endpoint>"

  # base_path (optional):  The path within the bucket where backups should be stored
  # If base_path is not set, backups will be stored at the root of the bucket.
  base_path = "<base path>"

  # Optionally, AWS credentials may be provided. If these are not provided, IAM instance
  # credentials will be used. It's also possible for these to be read through the standard
  # AWS environment variables or through the shared AWS config files.
  access_key = "<access_key>"
  secret_key = "<secret_key>"
  session_key = "<session_key>"

  # root_cert (optional): The root certificate used for SSL validation.
  # For S3 compatible APIs, you can set the SSL root cert if needed
  root_cert = """

S3 Permissions

The following IAM policy describes the basic permissions Chef Automate requires to run backup and restore operations.

  "Statement": [
      "Action": [
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Resource": [
      "Action": [
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Resource": [
  "Version": "2012-10-17"

Backup Commands

Create a Backup

Make a backup with the backup create command:

chef-automate backup create

The output shows the backup progress for each service. A successful backup displays a success message containing the timestamp of the backup:

Success: Created backup 20180518010336

Restores from a filesystem backup may fail with incorrect directory permissions. Run the fix-repo-permissions command to address such issues:

sudo chef-automate backup fix-repo-permissions <path>

List Backups

You can list existing backups with the backup list command:

chef-automate backup list

The output shows each backup and its age:

        Backup        State  Age
20180508201548    completed  8 minutes old
20180508201643    completed  8 minutes old
20180508201952    completed  4 minutes old

By default, this command communicates with your running Chef Automate installation to list the backups. If the Chef Automate installation is down, you can still list the backups.

To list filesystem backups:

chef-automate backup list /var/opt/chef-automate/backups
Listing backups from local directory /var/opt/chef-automate/backups
        Backup        State  Age
20180508201548    completed  12 minutes old
20180508201643    completed  11 minutes old
20180508201952    completed  8 minutes old

For backups stored in an Amazon S3 bucket, use:

chef-automate backup list s3://bucket_name/base_path

where bucket_name is the name of the S3 bucket and base_path is an optional path within the bucket where the backups live.

Delete Backups

To delete backups from a running instance of Chef Automate, first find the backup ID with chef-automate backup list and then delete the backup using chef automate backup delete ID.

chef-automate backup list
        Backup        State  Age
20181026183901    completed  1 minute old
20181026183954    completed  33 seconds old
20181026184012    completed  15 seconds old

Delete a single backup with chef-automate backup delete:

chef-automate backup delete 20181026183901
The following backups will be permanently deleted:
Are you sure you want to continue? (y/n)
Success: Backups deleted

To delete two or more backups, use chef-automate backup delete followed by the backup IDs:

chef-automate backup delete 20181026183954 20181026184012
The following backups will be permanently deleted:
Are you sure you want to continue? (y/n)
Success: Backups deleted

To prune all but a certain number of the most recent backups manually, parsing the output of chef-automate backup list and applying the command chef-automate backup delete. For example:

export KEEP=10; chef-automate backup list --result-json backup.json > /dev/null && jq "[.result.backups[].id] | sort | reverse | .[]" -rM backup.json | tail -n +$(($KEEP+1)) | xargs -L1 -i chef-automate backup delete --yes {}


To debug a failed backup, set the log level to debug and re-run the backup. This outputs the debug information to the Chef Automate log:

chef-automate debug set-log-level deployment-service debug


See the chef-automate backup command reference.