Table of contents
This page describes what to do in case of an Icinga alert. For more information you could search the govuk-puppet repo for the source of the alert

Icinga alerts

PostgreSQL: S3 Backups

There are two passive checks related to PostgreSQL S3 backups:

  • PostgreSQL WAL-E base backup push
  • PostgreSQL WAL-E archiving to S3

PostgreSQL WAL-E base backup push

Every morning WAL-E will push a “base backup” to an S3 bucket. This base backup represents the point in time when, if a restore is required, the data is taken from. The WAL logs will be restored and replayed from that time.

This means that if this base backup fails but the WAL archiving continues successfully, we aren’t losing backup data, but it would take longer to restore and replay the WAL logs from an older checkpoint.

If it fails check Kibana to see if you can see the error using the following query:


There may be a problem with PostgreSQL or it may have trouble connecting to the S3 bucket.

You can try to re-take the base backup. In theory this is a “hot” backup, which means it should not impact, but as it’s running on the Primary machine some caution is advised. As detailed above, you could wait until the next morning for the backup to try again since we are not losing data due to the archiving process:

sudo -iu postgres /usr/local/bin/wal-e_postgres_base_backup_push

PostgreSQL WAL-E archiving to S3

PostgreSQL has a concept of WAL archiving which means it makes a copy of a WAL log to the chosen destination. If this job fails it means that archiving may not correctly be uploading to the S3 bucket.

Fortunately if it is unable to correctly archive a log, it will not just “miss” the log, but will error until that log has been successfully archived. This means that we won’t have missing data, but we won’t have an offsite backup from the point that it errors, which subsequently means the WAL archiving is more important to offsite backups than the base backup itself.

WAL logs will continue to write on the filesystem of the local server. Check the status of the archiving with the following Kibana query:

This page was last reviewed on 18 April 2019. It needs to be reviewed again on 18 October 2019 by the page owner #govuk-2ndline .
This page was set to be reviewed before 18 October 2019 by the page owner #govuk-2ndline. This might mean the content is out of date.