Backup and Recovery Strategies

Learn essential backup and recovery strategies for Docker Swarm, ensuring your data and services can be restored quickly and reliably in case of failure.

By Kevin McAleer,    3 Minutes

Essential Backup and Recovery for Docker Swarm

In any computing environment, having a robust backup and recovery plan is crucial to protect against data loss and ensure quick recovery from failures. This lesson focuses on strategies for backing up and recovering your Docker Swarm environment, including data volumes, service configurations, and Swarm state.

Understanding What to Backup

In a Docker Swarm cluster, you should consider backing up:

  • Data Volumes: Persistent data used by your services.
  • Service Configurations: Docker Compose files or service definitions.
  • Swarm Configuration: Includes the Swarm state and configuration.

Backup Strategies

Data Volume Backups

  • Manual Backups: Use docker cp or rsync to copy data from volumes to a backup location.
  • Automated Backup Tools: Implement tools like restic, borgbackup, or Docker volume backup plugins to automate the backup process.

Service Configuration Backups

  • Version Control: Keep your Docker Compose files and service definitions in a version control system (e.g., Git) to track changes and facilitate recovery.
  • Export and Backup: Regularly export service definitions using docker service inspect > service_backup.json and back them up.

Swarm Configuration Backups

  • Backup Swarm State: Use docker swarm backup --output <BACKUP_FILE> to create a backup of the Swarm state. This includes Raft data, such as service definitions and network configurations.
  • Secure Your Backups: Store backups in a secure, off-site location. Consider encryption for sensitive data.

Recovery Strategies

Restoring Data Volumes

  • Manual Restoration: Copy data back into the appropriate volumes using docker cp, rsync, or similar tools.
  • Automated Restoration Tools: Use your chosen backup tool’s restore functionality to recover data volumes.

Restoring Service Configurations

  • Re-deploy Services: Use your version-controlled Docker Compose files or service definitions to redeploy your services.
  • Import Service Definitions: For exported service definitions, use docker service create with the backup JSON files to recreate your services.

Restoring Swarm Configuration

  • Restore Swarm State: In the event of a complete Swarm failure, initialize a new Swarm and use docker swarm restore --input <BACKUP_FILE> to restore the Swarm state from your backup.

Testing Your Backup and Recovery Plan

Regular testing of your backup and recovery process is essential to ensure:

  • Reliability: Confirm that backups are being created as expected and contain all necessary data.
  • Recovery Time: Understand how long it takes to recover from different types of failures.
  • Data Integrity: Verify that restored data is intact and usable.


A comprehensive backup and recovery strategy is vital for the resilience of your Docker Swarm cluster. By regularly backing up data volumes, service configurations, and Swarm state, you can safeguard against data loss and ensure minimal downtime. Regularly testing your recovery procedures ensures that you’re prepared for any scenario, keeping your Docker Swarm services running smoothly and reliably.

< Previous Next >