Choose a Rackspace backup solution

  • Last updated on: 2019-02-06
  • Authored by: Rackspace Community

When you choose a backup solution, it is important to understand the functionality, flexibility, extensibility, cost, and life cycle of the backups that you are using. These factors can significantly influence your requirements. In most cases, Rackspace Cloud Backup or Rackspace Cloud Images is the best fit for backing up your data.

Backup considerations

This section presents factors that you should consider when you are deciding on a backup solution.


Ensure that you answer the following question regarding functionality:

  • What can you do with your backup application functionally?


Answer the following questions regarding extensibility:

  • To what extent will the application be functional, useful, and practical?

  • What limits exist, in terms of the size of the data, and what is the frequency of backups?


Know the following information about cost:

  • How much does it cost to make a single backup?

  • How much does it cost to restore a backup?

Life cycle

Ask the following questions about the life cycles of backups:

  • How long will the backup exist?

  • How permanent does the backup need to be? Will the application that you use still exist in three, five, or 10 years?

  • What measures are in place to ensure accessibility if the level of support changes?


Ensure that the product that you are using is designed for your use case. For example, are you using Cloud Images, which is designed as an environmental backup rather than a file store? Are you using Rackspace Cloud Backups as an environmental store when you should really use Cloud Images?

Rackspace Cloud Backup only takes backups of the file system files and folders of your cloud server. It does not take a copy of the environment.

You cannot boot an operating system by using a restore from Cloud Backups. To perform this action, use Cloud Images.

Cloud Backup

Cloud Backup offers the following benefits and functionality:

  1. Fully manageable through the Cloud Control Panel and an application programming interface (API).

  2. Deduplicates files, reducing costs and disk usage.

  3. Offers Cyclic Redundancy Checking (CRC) of files, which verifies consistency and checks for corruption after archiving.

  4. Logical application written in the C programming language, which adds many features for automating backup to Cloud Files.

  5. No bandwidth charges for data sent through ServiceNet.

  6. Uses Cloud Files, but fully managed.

  7. Backs up by using ServiceNet or PublicNet.

How Cloud Backup works

Rackspace Cloud Backup uses a cloud server backup agent called driveclient. The driveclient agent runs on your cloud server and connects through an API to retrieve schedules from a central API endpoint location. It also connects to Cloud Files to store backup data. The agent enables you to restore the files from any Rackspace cloud server or Rackspace dedicated server to any other cloud server or dedicated server that also runs the agent.

For more information about using Cloud Backup, see the Cloud Backup API Developer Guide.

Cloud Images

Rackspace Cloud Images enables you to copy your cloud server’s environment and operating system (OS) to a bootable image. You can then boot an OS from the Rackspace Cloud Image backup.

The cloud server environment image usually encapsulates your primary hard disk partition. On Windows®, this is commonly referred to as the first hard disk, or the C system disk. In Linux® distributions, this disk is commonly referred to as sda (sda1) or xvda (xvda1), where a indicates the first disk, and 1 indicates the first partition.

How Cloud Images works

A Rackspace Cloud Image is a copy of the primary partition of your cloud server taken in a virtual hard disk (VHD) format and zipped, then uploaded to Cloud Files. When you create a server from that image, the zipped image is uncompressed and downloaded to the new cloud server host. The cloud server boots up when the download to the server is complete.


The nova-agent communicates between the server and the host. Nova-agent is an important Rackspace boot-time service that should be running on all cloud servers that are imaged.

Important: It is critically important that this service is running at boot time before you take a cloud server image that you intend to use later. This step is necessary because nova-agent is used to alter the networking configuration of new cloud servers that are built in different network subnets.

Warning: If the nova-agent isn’t running, it cannot set the new Internet Protocol (IP) address on start, and the server doesn’t get its networking interface. When you use cloud server images as a backup, it is important to ensure that nova-agent is set to start at boot time and test the cloud server image before you rely on it.

For more information about using Cloud Images, see the Cloud Images API developer guide.

Rackspace Cloud Files

Rackspace Cloud Files is a hard disk on the cloud to which you can read and write by using your username and API key credentials. It is not as fast as Rackspace Cloud Block Storage, but it is much bigger.

Rackspace Cloud Files is very similar to the Amazon® Simple Storage Service® (S3®) product. It is a very large disk, and you can store a nearly unlimited number of files and folders. However, there are some limitations, including a limit on the maximum number of containers and files.

Cloud Files has the following characteristics:

  1. Each cloud file that you upload is copied twice, so that you have three consistent copies of the same file.

  2. Because each cloud file is copied two times, the file exists on three different just a bunch of disks (JBODs). Each JBOD is independently backed by a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID).

  3. Each customer can have up to 500,000 containers per account in Cloud Files.

  4. We recommend that you store extremely large numbers of objects in multiple containers.

  5. When writing large numbers of objects to a single container, the limit of 100 object write requests per second per container might reduce overall performance.

The following example Bash script uses Cloud Files to upload all of the files in /var/www/ to Cloud Files:


  # This script uploads an entire file structure to a Cloud Files container


  # Cloud Files token

  TOKEN=`curl -X POST -d '{ "auth":{"RAX-KSKEY:apiKeyCredentials": { "username":"'$USERNAME'", "apiKey": "'$APIKEY'" }} }' -H "Content-type: application/json" |  python -mjson.tool | grep -A5 token | grep id | cut -d '"' -f4`

  # Set the destination folder


  # Set the destination container

  for f in $FILES

  echo "Upload start $f ..."
  FILENAME=`basename $f`

  # Take action on each file

  curl -i -X PUT$FILENAME -T /root/cloud-files/files/$FILENAME -H "X-Auth-Token: $TOKEN"


How Cloud Files works

Rackspace Cloud Files is an API-driven service. It is possible to connect different frameworks and software, such as Bash, Python, PHP, and Node.js.

For more information about using Cloud Files, see the Cloud Files API developer guide.

Cloud Block Storage

Rackspace Cloud Block Storage is not intended as a cloud backup utility. However, a Cloud Block Storage disk store might be superior for some use cases.

For example, if you have a large number of small files for which you don’t have space locally on your cloud server and you previously used Cloud Files to store and retrieve them, using Cloud Block Storage instead significantly speeds up the processing workflow.

How Cloud Block Storage works

By using Cloud Block Storage with your cloud server, you add an additional network-attached storage (NAS) device that your cloud server accesses through an Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (ISCSI) connection between the cloud server hypervisor and a RAID 10-backed Cloud Block Storage node.

The maximum performance of Cloud Block Storage can be much higher than all of the other solutions. However, there are limitations regarding portability and redundancy, which is why Cloud Block Storage is not considered for most backup use cases where consistency, redundancy, and failsafe are required. The greatest advantage of using Cloud Block Storage is its very fast speed and suitability for many small, temporary files.

For more information, see the Cloud Block Storage API developer guide.

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