A Ruby gem called safe provides a DSL for generating the commands to perform the backup. We used this fork which fixed some AWS issues.

The gist of what safe does is run pg_dump to create a backup file, encrypt it, then push it to Amazon S3. We added a command to run the script daily.

We also use the whenever gem to generate our crontab file. Our configuration is below, see GitHub for the complete set of options. Encryption via gpg can use public and private keys, or a simple passphrase.

safe do
  local :path => "/tmp/backups/:kind/:id"

  s3 do
    key s3['access_key_id']
    secret s3['secret_access_key']
    bucket "my-backups"
    path ":kind/:id"

  gpg do
    command "/usr/bin/gpg"
    options  "--no-use-agent --no-tty"
    password "test1234"

  keep do
    local 10
    s3 20

  pgdump do
    options "-i -x -O"
    user your_db_user
    database :your_database

The variables like s3 in our configuration are coming from config files in the app. The database config could be loaded like this:

require "yaml"
db = YAML.load_file(File.join(Dir.getwd, 'config', 'database.yml'))[environment]


Once the safe configuration file is specified, the astrails-safe executable can be run. We use cron to run this once a day. The whenever gem supplies a config/schedule.rb for crontab entries. The whenever command can be run to see what will be generated. Whenever also provides Capistrano tasks to update the crontab file on every deploy.

We used the job_template option to so that the command was run from the app directory and is run with bundle exec.

every 1.day, :at => '4:30 am' do
  set :job_template, "cd :path && RAILS_ENV=production :task"
  command "bundle exec astrails-safe -v config/database_backup.rb >/dev/null 2>&1"


This script has been running for a few days so far and is meeting our needs.