[Solved]-Django backup strategy with dumpdata and migrations



I am taking the following steps to backup, restore or transfer my postgresql database between any instance of my project:

The idea is to keep the least possible migrations as if manage.py makemigrations was run for the first time on an empty database.

Letโ€™s assume that we have a working database to our development environment. This database is a current copy of the production database that should not be open to any changes. We have added models, altered attributes etc and those actions have generated additional migrations.

Now the database is ready to be migrated to production which -as stated before- is not open to public so it is not altered in any way. In order to achieve this:

  • I perform the normal procedure in the development environment.
  • I copy the project to the production environment.
  • I perform the normal procedure in the production environment

We make the changes in our development environment. No changes should happen in the production database because they will be overridden.

Normal Procedure

Before anything else, I have a backup of the project directory (which includes a requirements.txt file), a backup of the database and -of course- git is a friend of mine.

  1. I take a dumpdata backup in case I need it. However, dumpdata has some serious limitations regarding content types, permissions or other cases where a natural foreignkey should be used:

    ./manage.py dumpdata --exclude auth.permission --exclude contenttypes  --exclude admin.LogEntry --exclude sessions --indent 2 > db.json
  2. I take a pg_dump backup to use:

    pg_dump -U $user -Fc $database --exclude-table=django_migrations > path/to/backup-dir/db.dump
  3. Only if I want to merge existing migrations in one, I delete all migrations from every application.

    In my case the migrations folder is a symlink, so I use the following script:

    for dir in $(find -L -name "migrations")
      rm -Rf $dir/*
  4. I delete and recreate the database:

    For example, a bash script can include the following commands:

    su -l postgres -c "PGPASSWORD=$password psql -c 'drop database $database ;'"
    su -l postgres -c "createdb --owner $username $database"
    su -l postgres -c "PGPASSWORD=$password psql $database -U $username -c 'CREATE EXTENSION $extension ;'"
  5. I restore the database from the dump:

    pg_restore -Fc -U $username -d $database path/to/backup-dir/db.dump
  6. If migrations were deleted in step 3, I recreate them in the following way:

    ./manage.py makemigrations <app1> <app2> ... <appn>

    โ€ฆ by using the following script:

    for app in $(find ./ -maxdepth 1 -type d ! -path "./<project-folder> ! -path "./.*" ! -path "./")
    all_apps=$(printf "%s "  "${apps[@]}")
    ./manage.py makemigrations $all_apps
  7. I migrate using a fake migration:

    ./manage.py migrate --fake

In case something has gone completely wrong and everything is ***, (this can happen, indeed), I can use the backup to revert everything to its previous working state. If I would like to use the db.json file from step one, it goes like this:

When pg_dump or pg_restore fails

I perform the steps:

  • 3 (delete migrations)
  • 4 (delete and recreate the database)
  • 6 (makemigrations)

and then:

  • Apply the migrations:

    ./manage.py migrate
  • Load the data from db.json:

    ./manage.py loaddata path/to/db.json

Then I try to find out why my previous effort was not successful.

When the steps are performed successfully, I copy the project to the server and perform the same ones to that box.

This way, I always keep the least number of migrations and I am able to use pg_dump and pg_restore to any box that shares the same project.


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