Previously, I discussed built-in snapshots and backup features in Proxmox VE. Today, I will have a look at Proxmox Backup Server. Proxmox Backup Server is an enterprise-ready backup and recovery solution for VMs, containers, and physical servers. It supports deduplicated and incremental backups to reduce network load and increase storage efficiency.
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Download Proxmox Backup Server

You can download the ISO file of Proxmox Backup Server from the official website and then extract it to a USB flash drive using Rufus or balenaEtcher.

Downloading the ISO file of Proxmox Backup Server

Downloading the ISO file of Proxmox Backup Server

The process of creating a bootable USB flash drive is similar to that of Proxmox VE.

Install Proxmox Backup Server

Once you have the bootable USB ready, plug it in, and boot your server from the USB drive. Then follow these steps:

  1. On the welcome screen, select the Install Proxmox Backup Server option, and press Enter.

    Welcome to Proxmox Backup Server installation

    Welcome to Proxmox Backup Server installation

  2. Read the end user license agreement and click the I agree button to proceed.
    Accepting the end user license agreement for Proxmox Backup Server

    Accepting the end user license agreement for Proxmox Backup Server

    The installer will automatically detect all the hard drives connected to the server.

  3. Select your preferred installation target (hard disk) for Proxmox Backup Server, and click Next.

    Selecting the installation target for Proxmox Backup Server

    Selecting the installation target for Proxmox Backup Server

  4. Now, select your country, time zone, and keyboard layout, and click Next.

    Selecting the location and time zone for Proxmox Backup Server

    Selecting the location and time zone for Proxmox Backup Server

  5. Set a strong password for the root account, enter your email address, and click Next.
    Setting the administrator password and email address for Proxmox Backup Server

    Setting the administrator password and email address for Proxmox Backup Server

    Proxmox Backup Server will send important alert notifications to this email address, so make sure you enter a valid email address here.

  6. Now select a management network interface and configure a hostname, IP address, gateway, and DNS for Proxmox Backup Server.

    Management network configuration for Proxmox Backup Server

    Management network configuration for Proxmox Backup Server

  7. Finally, review all the settings, and click Install.
    Review the configuration summary for Proxmox Backup Server

    Review the configuration summary for Proxmox Backup Server

    The server restarts automatically after installation.

    The management URL for Proxmox Backup Server is displayed on the login screen.

  8. Open this URL in the web browser to start managing your Proxmox Backup Server.
    Viewing the management URL on the Proxmox Backup Server login screen

    Viewing the management URL on the Proxmox Backup Server login screen

    Proxmox Backup Server management GUI login

    Proxmox Backup Server management GUI login

    If you have a private DNS server configured, you can also use the server's hostname, such as https://pbs1.testlab.local:8007/.

Proxmox Backup Server GUI

Let's discuss various options available in the Proxmox Backup Server management interface. The Administration menu option allows you to perform various administrative tasks. Here, you can manage services, updates, repositories, and syslog. You can also restart or shut down Proxmox Backup Server.

Viewing Proxmox Backup Server administration options

Viewing Proxmox Backup Server administration options

Manage your subscription and repository

When you log in to the Proxmox Backup Server GUI, you will see a notification about no valid subscription.

You do not have a valid subscription for this server

You do not have a valid subscription for this server

You can purchase a subscription if you're planning to use this server in a production environment. After purchasing a subscription, click Subscription in the navigation menu and then click the Upload Subscription Key button, as shown in the screenshot below.

Upload subscription key for Proxmox Backup Server

Upload subscription key for Proxmox Backup Server

You can upload the subscription key here, which gives you access to the enterprise repository to receive production-grade updates that are heavily tested.

If you do not want to pay, you can enable a no-subscription repository to receive updates that are not as heavily tested as those of the enterprise repository. To enable the no-subscription repository, you first need to disable the enterprise repository, which is enabled by default. To do so, select Administration > Repositories. Now select the pbs-enterprise.list repository, and click the Disable button. See the following screenshot for reference:

Disabling the enterprise repository in Proxmox Backup Server

Disabling the enterprise repository in Proxmox Backup Server

After disabling the enterprise repository, click the Add button, choose the No-Subscription repository from the dropdown list, and click Add as shown in the screenshot:

Enabling a no subscription repository in Proxmox Backup Server

Enabling a no subscription repository in Proxmox Backup Server

Install updates

Once you have enabled a suitable repository as per your requirements (enterprise or no-subscription), click the Administration menu, select the Updates tab, and then click the Refresh button to check for updates.

Checking for updates in Proxmox Backup Server

Checking for updates in Proxmox Backup Server

If updates are available, click the Upgrade button. The process starts in a new popup window, as you can see in the image.

Viewing updates installation progress in Proxmox Backup Server

Viewing updates installation progress in Proxmox Backup Server

Manage users

There is only a root user that is created by default during the installation of Proxmox Backup Server. You can create a new user by clicking the Access Control submenu under Configuration and then going to the Under Management tab.

Creating a Backup Operator user in Proxmox Backup Server

Creating a Backup Operator user in Proxmox Backup Server

As you can see in the screenshot, I just created a Backup Operator user. Note that the realm for this new user is pbs, whereas the default root user is created under the pam realm. Realms are authentication methods supported by Proxmox VE and Proxmox Backup Server. We don't need to give this user any permissions right now; we will do that later.

Create a datastore

Storage is the heart of any backup system. Proxmox Backup Server supports both block-level and file-level backups. Before you can start using Proxmox Backup Server, you first need to configure a datastore—a location where backups are stored. To do so, click the Storage / Disks menu option. You will see a list of all the hard drives connected to your Proxmox Backup Server. Now select an unused disk and click Initialize Disk with GPT.

Initializing a disk in Proxmox Backup Server

Initializing a disk in Proxmox Backup Server

Once the disk is initialized, click the Directory tab, and then click the Create: Directory button, as shown in the screenshot.

Creating a backup datastore directory in Proxmox Backup Server

Creating a backup datastore directory in Proxmox Backup Server

Now, create a backup directory, as shown in the screenshot below:

Backup directory settings

Backup directory settings

Make sure the Add as Datastore checkbox is selected and click the Create button. This adds the newly created directory as a datastore. If you have multiple unused hard disks, you can click the ZFS option and create a ZFS pool. ZFS makes your backups more resilient to single-disk failures.

As soon as the backup directory is created, a new datastore appears in the Proxmox Backup Server interface. See the screenshot below for reference:

Viewing the newly created datastore in Proxmox Backup Server

Viewing the newly created datastore in Proxmox Backup Server

At this point, our new Proxmox Backup Server is ready for use with Proxmox VE.

Datastore permissions

By default, the root user on Proxmox Backup Server gets full access to the datastore. However, we will use the Backup Operator user that we created earlier and give it the required permissions. To do so, click the Permissions tab, then click Add, and select the User Permission option.

Assigning datastore permissions in Proxmox Backup Server

Assigning datastore permissions in Proxmox Backup Server

Now, select the Backup Operator user and assign a role to it. For our use case, the DatastoreAdmin role is sufficient, as it will allow our Backup Operator user to create and manage backups in the datastore.

Add user permissions to the datastore in Proxmox Backup Server

Add user permissions to the datastore in Proxmox Backup Server

Integrate with Proxmox VE

We can now integrate our new Proxmox Backup Server with Proxmox VE. To do so, log in to your Proxmox VE GUI and make sure the Datacenter node is selected at the top. Now, click the Storage option, click the Add button, and then choose Proxmox Backup Server from the dropdown list, as shown in the screenshot below:

Integrating Proxmox Backup Server with Proxmox VE

Integrating Proxmox Backup Server with Proxmox VE

Now, fill in all the fields, as shown in the screenshot below:

Adding a Proxmox Backup Server datastore to Proxmox VE

Adding a Proxmox Backup Server datastore to Proxmox VE

Notice how the username is specified here. Just entering the username (e.g., root or backup) is not sufficient; you also need to specify the realm. To specify the root user, you need to type root@pam in the username field. The fingerprint can be obtained from the Proxmox Backup Server Dashboard, as shown in the screenshot below:

Viewing the fingerprint of Proxmox Backup Server

Viewing the fingerprint of Proxmox Backup Server

Backup encryption can be enabled under the Encryption tab.

Configure backup encryption in Proxmox VE

Configure backup encryption in Proxmox VE

If you enable encryption, don't forget to download your encryption key, and keep it safe. Without this key, you will not be able to restore your encrypted backups.

Saving the encryption key for Proxmox backup

Saving the encryption key for Proxmox backup

Once Proxmox Backup Server is added under the Proxmox VE datacenter, it is immediately attached to every server (node) in your Proxmox cluster, as shown in the screenshot below:

Proxmox Backup Server is automatically attached to all nodes of the Proxmox VE cluster

Proxmox Backup Server is automatically attached to all nodes of the Proxmox VE cluster

Configure backups in Proxmox VE

We are now ready to create a backup job in the Proxmox VE datacenter to save the backups in Proxmox Backup Server. To do so, make sure Datacenter is selected in Proxmox VE. Now click the Backup option, and then click the Add button.

Adding a backup job in the Proxmox VE datacenter with Proxmox Backup Server as the target

Adding a backup job in the Proxmox VE datacenter with Proxmox Backup Server as the target

Now specify the following settings:

  • Under Node, select All to back up all Proxmox VE servers. If you want, you can exclude specific servers here.
  • Under Storage, select Proxmox Backup Server ID (pbs, in our case).
  • Under Schedule, select a backup schedule as required. I set the backup to happen at 11:59 p.m. every day.
  • Under Selection mode, choose All to back up all VMs and containers in the selected Proxmox servers. You may choose a different option to include or exclude any VM or container, as required.
  • Under the Send email to and Email fields, enter your email address and configure it to receive alerts as required. I set it to receive alerts about backup failures only.
  • Under the Mode field, choose a backup mode. Snapshot mode is the fastest and requires no downtime, but it can cause backup inconsistencies. For highly reliable and consistent backups, you may want to change the backup mode to Stop; keep in mind that this could cause VM downtime.
  • Finally, the Enable checkbox ensures that the backup job is enabled.
Backup job settings in Proxmox VE

Backup job settings in Proxmox VE

The backup pruning settings can be configured on the Retention tab.

Backup retention settings in Proxmox VE

Backup retention settings in Proxmox VE

Our new backup job is now visible under the Backup option.

Viewing the backup job in Proxmox VE

Viewing the backup job in Proxmox VE

I will now click the Run now button to manually run the backup job. You will see detailed information about backups under the datastore in the Proxmox Backup Server interface.

Viewing backup content in Proxmox Backup Server

Viewing backup content in Proxmox Backup Server

Restore from backup

To restore a VM or container from backup, all you need to do is select the Proxmox Backup Server ID, locate the appropriate backup, select it, and then click the Restore button, as shown in the screenshot below:

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Restoring a VM or container from Proxmox Backup Server

Restoring a VM or container from Proxmox Backup Server

If you want to restore a particular file or folder, you can do so by clicking the File Restore button. You can also perform an on-demand backup and restore an individual VM or container to Proxmox Backup Server. You just need to select pbs as the storage target for your on-demand backup. For more details on Proxmox VE backup and restore, check out my previous post.

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