A sensible naming scheme for backup files

It’s important to back up a database regularly. But how do balance being thorough with being reasonable? If you save a full backup, every day, indefinitely, you will need more and more storage space. And really, do you care if you have to go back to the Tuesday backup from a year and a half ago, rather than the Thursday backup? No.

What you want is a lot of recent backups, and a few older backups, saved regularly.

My strategy is this:

  1. Make a backup every day
  2. Make a copy.
  3. Give the two copies the following names: “Wednesday.sql” and “February.sql” (or whatever the current day and month are). Always overwrite any file with the same name.

What results is a manageable list of only 19 backup files. I have 7 backups that are less than a week old, and I have a backup every month going back one year.

So far, the only backup I’ve ever needed was the most recent one. But I feel good that I’m making backups and keeping some history, without bloating my server with near-duplicates of files I will never read.

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