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Etcd Backup and Restore

In this section, you'll learn how to create backups of the rke2 cluster data and to restore the cluster from backup.

Note: /var/lib/rancher/rke2 is the default data directory for rke2, it is configurable however via data-dir parameter.

Creating Snapshots

Snapshots are enabled by default.

The snapshot directory defaults to /var/lib/rancher/rke2/server/db/snapshots.

To configure the snapshot interval or the number of retained snapshots, refer to the options.

In RKE2, snapshots are stored on each etcd node. If you have multiple etcd or etcd + control-plane nodes, you will have multiple copies of local etcd snapshots.

Cluster Reset

RKE2 enables a feature to reset the cluster to one member cluster by passing --cluster-reset flag, when passing this flag to rke2 server it will reset the cluster with the same data dir in place, the data directory for etcd exists in /var/lib/rancher/rke2/server/db/etcd, this flag can be passed in the events of quorum loss in the cluster.

To pass the reset flag, first you need to stop RKE2 service if its enabled via systemd:

systemctl stop rke2-server
rke2 server --cluster-reset

Result: A message in the logs say that RKE2 can be restarted without the flags. Start rke2 again and it should start rke2 as a 1 member cluster.

Restoring a Cluster from a Snapshot

When RKE2 is restored from backup, the old data directory will be moved to /var/lib/rancher/rke2/server/db/etcd-old-%date%/. Then RKE2 will attempt to restore the snapshot by creating a new data directory, then starting etcd with a new RKE2 cluster with one etcd member.

To restore the cluster from backup, first you need to stop RKE2 service if its enabled via systemd. Once stopped, run RKE2 with the --cluster-reset option, with the --cluster-reset-restore-path also given:

systemctl stop rke2-server
rke2 server \
  --cluster-reset \

Result: A message in the logs says that RKE2 can be restarted without the flags. Start RKE2 again and should run successfully and be restored from the specified snapshot.

When rke2 resets the cluster, it creates an empty file at /var/lib/rancher/rke2/server/db/reset-flag. This file is harmless to leave in place, but must be removed in order to perform subsequent resets or restores. This file is deleted when rke2 starts normally.


These options can be set in the configuration file:

Options Description
etcd-disable-snapshots Disable automatic etcd snapshots
etcd-snapshot-schedule-cron value Snapshot interval time in cron spec. eg. every 5 hours * */5 * * *(default: 0 */12 * * *)
etcd-snapshot-retention value Number of snapshots to retain (default: 5)
etcd-snapshot-dir value Directory to save db snapshots. (Default location: ${data-dir}/db/snapshots)
cluster-reset Forget all peers and become sole member of a new cluster. This can also be set with the environment variable [$RKE2_CLUSTER_RESET].
cluster-reset-restore-path value Path to snapshot file to be restored

S3 Compatible API Support

rke2 supports writing etcd snapshots to and restoring etcd snapshots from systems with S3-compatible APIs. S3 support is available for both on-demand and scheduled snapshots.

The arguments below have been added to the server subcommand. These flags exist for the etcd-snapshot subcommand as well however the --etcd-s3 portion is removed to avoid redundancy.

Options Description
--etcd-s3 Enable backup to S3
--etcd-s3-endpoint S3 endpoint url
--etcd-s3-endpoint-ca S3 custom CA cert to connect to S3 endpoint
--etcd-s3-skip-ssl-verify Disables S3 SSL certificate validation
--etcd-s3-access-key S3 access key
--etcd-s3-secret-key S3 secret key"
--etcd-s3-bucket S3 bucket name
--etcd-s3-region S3 region / bucket location (optional). defaults to us-east-1
--etcd-s3-folder S3 folder

To perform an on-demand etcd snapshot and save it to S3:

rke2 etcd-snapshot \
  --s3 \
  --s3-bucket=<S3-BUCKET-NAME> \
  --s3-access-key=<S3-ACCESS-KEY> \

To perform an on-demand etcd snapshot restore from S3, first make sure that rke2 isn't running. Then run the following commands:

rke2 server \
  --cluster-reset \
  --etcd-s3 \
  --cluster-reset-restore-path=<SNAPSHOT-NAME> \
  --etcd-s3-bucket=<S3-BUCKET-NAME> \
  --etcd-s3-access-key=<S3-ACCESS-KEY> \