I have inherited a server that has somewhat non-standard config, e.g. NFS mount and lighthttpd. I don't have a handle on all the way it is setup quite yet.
So my question is: If I rsync backup the hard disk to an offsite backup, then in case of a crash, can I restore the whole thing (again using rsync) without any tweaking necessary (which I may not be able to do). In other words, would the webserver start working without any tweaks?
Interesting, Marc. I like the idea of bare metal restore. Since we are in a hosted situation, how does this work in practice. I figure the hosting co. will bring up the server into some working condition, then we upload the app to the server, and then have it bare metal restore? Have you ever had to restore?
Also I wonder if slight differences in disks (e.g. disk brands) would cause this to fail.
You can restore to another similar server, I am not sure about the size of the HDs, if they were smaller that might be a problem. But you can restore just the data too, it even backs up MySQL with a Plugin and you can do table level restores, just ask them, they are very helpful.
Don't trust any backup process that you haven't tested a restore on, period.
Bare metal always carries some risk, especially if you can't restore on the same hardware.
If you've inherited the server, you may want to look at replacing it in the medium term - start on a virtual machine locally, building it from a known base OS configuration and install/test your application, then once your satisfied its reliable get a new hosted server, and build in a way that you know how to repeat. Ideally, write a shell script that installs the necessary applications and restores your data backups so that you can use it to commission a new server quickly in an emergency.
Baremetal: I think it can easily be corrupted or fail on new hardware (my guess), so I think additional backup of db and script would be wise. Backup storage is cheap these days.
Yes, I am very uncomfy with the inherited server, not being LAMP/cpanel, which I know how to deal with, so per your advice, I am looking at (a) first stablizeing the situation, and (b) start dev/migrate to a standard LAMP/cpanel server.
Any other advice is appreciated. I think all of us grapple with how to do backups (that would also restore!!).