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Proxmox

Proxmox Backup Server: Ultimate Install, Backup, and Restore Guide

Backups are essential to running Proxmox VE in the home lab or production to avoid data loss. Proxmox Backup Server is a free solution to back up and recover Proxmox VE VMs and containers. 

What is Proxmox Backup Server?

Proxmox Backup Server (PBS) is a free solution based on the Debian operating system from Proxmox for backing up Proxmox VE virtual machines and container instances. It provides secure Proxmox Backup Server storage and data management features. Using PBS helps protect your critical data from accidental deletion, corruption, ransomware, or other unforeseen events.

Since many commercial enterprise backup solution products don’t protect Proxmox, it is great to see that Proxmox has a backup server to protect your Proxmox VE virtual machine workloads. Also, you can run it on your own hardware and select your hardware based on your own resource usage. So, the specific CPU, memory, disk, and hardware platform you choose may vary according to your strategy and needs.

Proxmox Backup Server features

Note the following features:

  • Efficient Data Backup and Recovery: It provides reliable and quick backup and restoration of virtual machines, containers, and physical hosts. PBS also features Incremental backups. With incremental backups, only the changes changes made since the last backup are stored. 
  • Incremental Backup Support: Only backs up data that has changed since the last backup, to reduce backup time and storage requirements.
  • Data Deduplication: Reduces the storage space required for backups by only storing unique data blocks.
  • Data Backup Encryption: uses encryption during transfer and at rest.
  • Web user Interface: Using a web browser, you can manage backups, restore data, and configure settings.
  • Compression Options: Supports data compression to further reduce the storage space needed for backups.
  • Snapshot Functionality: Allows for creating snapshots of data, enabling point-in-time recoveries.
  • ZFS Support: Integrates with ZFS (Zettabyte File System) for efficient storage management and high data integrity.
  • Flexible Storage Options: Supports various storage backends, including local directories, NFS targets, and SMB/CIFS.
  • Replication: You can replicate your backup data to remote sites. This helps to create a 3-2-1 disaster recovery model.
  • Role-Based Access Control: Allows granular control over user access and permissions.
  • Backup Scheduling: Automates the backup process through customizable scheduling.
  • Email Notification System: Sends automated email notifications regarding backup jobs and system status.
  • API for Automation: Provides a REST API for easy integration with other systems and automation of backup tasks.
  • Support for Multiple Clients: Compatible with various clients, including Proxmox VE, Linux, and others.
  • Backup Retention Policies: Customizable retention policies to maintain a balance between storage space and backup availability.
  • Bandwidth Throttling: Manages network load by controlling the bandwidth used for backup operations.
  • Plugin System for Extensibility: Supports plugins for extending functionality and integrating with other systems.
  • Backup Verification: Includes features to verify the integrity of backups, ensuring recoverability.
  • Proxmox VE Integration: Seamlessly integrates with Proxmox Virtual Environment for centralized management of virtualized infrastructure and backups.

Proxmox Backup Server installation step-by-step instructions

Like installing Proxmox VE virtualization server, installing PBS is extremely easy and looks very much like installing Proxmox VE. Let’s install PBS and configure backups of Proxmox virtual machines.

First, you will need to download the PBS release ISO image from Proxmox here: Proxmox Backup Server.

Once you have the ISO file, “burn” the software to a USB flash drive or upload it to your Proxmox VE host if you are hosting your backup server as a virtual machine.

Below is a screenshot of the Proxmox Backup Server virtual machines booting from the ISO installation.

Running the proxmox backup server installer
Running the PBS installer

Accept the end user license agreement (EULA).

Proxmox backup server eula
PBS eula

Select the installation drive.

Proxmox backup server disk configuration
PBS disk configuration

Set your country, time zone, and keyboard layout language.

Location timezone and keyboard layout
Location timezone and keyboard layout

Create an administrative password and email address.

Setting the password and email address
Setting the password and email address

Enter the FQDN and IP address configuration.

2023 11 26 22 06 06
2023 11 26 22 06 06

Review the summary screen.

Summary screen for the installation process with proxmox backup server
Summary screen for the installation process with PBS

Below is a screenshot of the Proxmox Backup Server running on Proxmox VE.

Running the proxmox backup server on proxmox ve
Running the proxmox backup server on proxmox ve

Booting the Proxmox Backup Server after installation.

Booting the proxmox backup server after installation
Booting the proxmox backup server after installation

After the Proxmox Backup Server boots, you will see the default text splash screen directing you to open a browser to start managing the server. Note the port 8007, which is different from the Proxmox VE port 8006 for accessing the GUI. This is the command line interface (CLI) from the console.

Proxmox backup server login
Proxmox backup server login

Logging into the Proxmox Backup client interface

Next, let’s navigate to the web UI and log in to the web UI for the Proxmox Backup Server.

Pbs web interface login
Pbs web interface login

Below, we see the overview of the PBS tool.

Logged into proxmox backup server seeing the dashboard
Logged into PBS seeing the dashboard

Adding a datastore for storing backups

Next, let’s add a datastore for storing Proxmox backups. After logging into the Proxmox Backup Server, click the Add Datastore option under Datastore.

Beginning the process to add a datastore to proxmox backup server
Beginning the process to add a datastore to the PBS

This will launch the Add Datastore dialog box. Name the new datastore and then enter the backing path. You don’t have to create the backing path location as the process will do this for you. Click Add. This will add the backup storage location to local storage on your Proxmox Backup Server.

Naming the datastore and setting the path
Naming the datastore and setting the path

Now, we see the datastore displaying in our Proxmox Backup Server.

Viewing the datastore in proxmox backup server
Viewing the datastore in PBS

Add the Proxmox Backup Server instance to your Proxmox VE server

On our Proxmox VE host, the Proxmox Backup Server is viewed as Storage. So, we first need to add it as storage to our Proxmox VE host.

Navigate to Datacenter > Storage > Add > Proxmox Backup Server.

Adding proxmox backup server storage to your proxmox ve instance
Adding PBS storage to your proxmox ve instance

This will launch the Add: Proxmox Backup Server dialog box. Here we enter the following information:

  • ID
  • Server
  • Username
  • Password
  • Datastore
  • Fingerprint

You may wonder where we get the fingerprint.

Add the proxmox backup server certificate thumbprint
Add the PBS certificate thumbprint

Navigate back to your Proxmox Backup Server and click on the Dashboard > Show Fingerprint button.

Show fingerprint on proxmox backup server
Show fingerprint on PBS

Here, we can copy the fingerprint.

Copy the fingerprint of the proxmox backup server
Copy the fingerprint of the PBS server

Now, we can paste in the fingerprint.

Thumbprint added and ready to save to connect to pbs
Thumbprint added and ready to save to connect to pbs

After adding the fingerprint and clicking the Add button, we see the Proxmox Backup Server listed.

Proxmox backup server storage added successfully
Proxmox backup server storage added successfully

Creating a backup job

Now that we have the Proxmox Backup Server added as storage to our Proxmox VE host, let’s create a backup job.

You might think we would do this from the Proxmox Backup Server side. However, we create the Proxmox backup job from the Proxmox VE host. Proxmox Backup Server offers advanced features like snapshot mode and customizable backup retention policies.

Navigate to Datacenter > Backup > Add.

Beginning to add a new proxmox backup job
Beginning to add a new proxmox backup job

On the general tab, we can set all the main backup option selection for our Proxmox backup job. This includes:

  • Source nodes from which to backup
  • Storage that we want to target for the backup
  • Schedule when your backup job will runReading the previous sentence, it becomes evident that determining the storage and backup schedule are crucial aspects when setting up a Proxmox backup server. 
  • Selection mode (which VMs)
  • Notification mode
  • Send email options
  • Send email to for configuring an email address
  • Backup mode – snapshot, suspend, stop
The general tab on the create backup job box
The general tab on the create backup job box

On the retention screen, you can configure all things retention and archive related, including:

  • Keep all backups
  • Keep last
  • Keep daily
  • Keep monthly
  • Keep hourly
  • Keep yearly
The retention tab on the new proxmox backup job box
The retention tab on the new proxmox backup job box

You can also configure the Note template.

The note template for the new proxmox backup job
The note template for the new proxmox backup job

After creating the backup job.

The newly created backup job proxmox virtual machine
The newly created backup job proxmox virtual machine

We can choose to run the backup job now:

Choosing to run the new proxmox backup job now
Choosing to run the new proxmox backup job now

Confirm you want to run the backup now.

Confirm you want to run the new proxmox backup job
Confirm you want to run the new proxmox backup job

You will also note, that you can navigate to the Proxmox VE host virtual machine and select Backup and you will have the option to backup your VM from here. Make sure you choose your PBS storage location.

Confirm your backup storage
Confirm your backup storage

After you run the backup, you can see the vzdump backups details for the VM by selecting your PBS storage location.

Look at the backups on your remote proxmox backup server datastore
Look at the backups on your remote PBS datastore

Restoring a Proxmox virtual machine from backup

After selecting your PBS backup location, you can select one of the restore points and select Restore

Beginning the restore process for a proxmox virtual machine
Beginning the restore process for a proxmox virtual machine

You can select to start the VM and also perform a Live restore. 

Choosing to overwrite with a live restore and power on the vm
Choosing to overwrite with a live restore and power on the vm

Confirm you want to restore the VM.

Confirm you want to overwrite the vm
Confirm you want to overwrite the vm

The task will progress and should finish successfully. The speed will depend on the network bandwidth you have between your Proxmox VE host and your Proxmox Backup Server.

The restore task completes successfully
The restore task completes successfully

Granular file restore

You can also click the File Restore button to restore individual files from the backups.

Running a file restore for a proxmox virtual machine
Running a file restore for a proxmox virtual machine

Frequently Asked Questions

How does PBS ensure the security of my backups?

Proxmox Backup Server improves data security with features like backup encryption and secure data transfer protocols. This means your backups are protected from unauthorized access and potential threats.

Can I use PBS for backing up physical servers as well as virtual environments?

Yes, it can handle backups for both virtual machines and physical hosts. However, it seems this functionality as documented from Proxmox is more on the roadmap for better integration and functionality. It is mentioned you can use the Proxmox Backup Server client to back up a physical host. Check the thread here: PBS: How to back up physical servers?

What are the advantages of using incremental backups in PBS?

These save time and storage space. By only backing up data that has changed since the last backup, the load on the network and storage is reduced.

Is it possible to automate backup jobs with Proxmox Backup Server?

Proxmox Backup Server allows you to automate backup jobs through its scheduling feature. This automation ensures regular backups without manual intervention, making backup management more efficient.

What storage options are available with Proxmox Backup Server?

You can configure ZFS pools and RAID configurations for internal storage. You can also configure external storage solutions like NFS and SMB/CIFS. 

What can you do with the web interface in managing Proxmox Backup Server?

In the web interface, you can configure backups, settings, and restore data. In the interface you can configure network traffic settings, user access, and 2FA.

How does Proxmox Backup Server handle network load during backup operations?

It includes features for managing network load, such as bandwidth throttling. This ensures that backup operations do not overwhelm the network, maintaining optimal performance.

What are the best practices for configuring user permissions in Proxmox Backup Server?

Configuring user permissions involves assigning roles and access rights based on user responsibilities and requirements. This ensures that users have appropriate access to backup functions while maintaining data security.

How does Proxmox Backup Server perform quick data restoration?

With features like the file restore button and snapshot mode, it enables quick and efficient data restoration. These capabilities are crucial for minimizing downtime in case of data loss.

Proxmox Backup Server as a Comprehensive Solution for Backup and Restore

Proxmox Backup Server is a solution that provides Proxmox administrators what they need to protect critical data. It is also great for those with home lab environments to protect VMs and containers they don’t want to lose or configurations that are hard to reproduce. As shown, the solution is not hard to install. It is easy to set up backup jobs, and you can quickly restore your backups in the Proxmox VE environment.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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