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Agile Planner's Fail-Proof Backups

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the founder of Agile Planner, Graham Ashton. Graham has built a fail-proof database backup routine to protect his customers’ data. Like most sysadmins, Graham takes the security of customer data very seriously, and he’s using Dead Man’s Snitch to keep tabs on his automated backups. In fact, backups are one of the top snitched-on tasks by Dead Man's Snitch users.

Here’s Graham’s story:

"Agile Planner is a planning tool for teams using iterative development, such as XP or Scrum. Agile Planner helps users turn a stack of estimated cards into a plan they can deliver on. I’m using Dead Man’s Snitch to guarantee that customer data is securely backed up off site, multiple times each day.

The site is hosted on Heroku, which runs on Amazon’s cloud services. While we benefit from the Heroku Postgres team’s expertise to keep our databases running smoothly, there’s a small risk that Agile Planner would be affected by downtime at Amazon. I wanted to ensure my customers would still be able to access their data even if Amazon went down.

My solution was to copy a backup of the Agile Planner database to a dedicated VPS, several times a day. Storing backups on multiple service providers reduces Agile Planner’s dependence on third parties, whose downtime is outside of my control.

Ensuring that the backup job runs successfully multiple times per day is where Dead Man’s Snitch comes in. Dead Man's Snitch alerts me promptly if the backup script fails to run successfully. I’m confident that I can quickly move the site to an alternative hosting company should the unthinkable happen over at Heroku.

If you implement something similar on your site, don’t forget to regularly test your restoration procedure so you’ll know your backups will actually work when you need them!”

To learn more about Agile Planner, visit

Happy Snitching!