Backing up ownCloud


Depending on how the ownCloud instance has been installed, you may need slightly different steps to do a backup. You may also use different methods as the data directory can be huge. This document is intended as a guideline, but the way you implement it depends on your setup.

In any case, you need the following components to be backed up:

  1. The config/ directory.

  2. The data/ directory.
    Note that the data/ directory may not only contain user files but also keys for encryption.

  3. The apps/ directory.
    Note that this is only necessary if you are not using the apps-external/ directory and have added own apps or themes.

  4. The apps-external/ directory.
    Note that this is only necessary if it exists and is in use.

  5. The ownCloud database.

  6. The custom theme files, if you had any. See Theming ownCloud.
    Note that theme files are usually located in either the apps/ or apps-external/ directory.

If you have customized user home directories or a custom location for encryption keys, you have to manually take care of backing them up and restoring them to the same location.


To ensure a consistent backup, stop your web server to prevent users from trying to access ownCloud via the web. As an alternative, you can stop serving the virtual host for ownCloud:

sudo service apache2 stop

Backup Scenarios

Tarball Installation
  1. If you have installed ownCloud from a tarball, you can safely backup the entire installation, with the exception of your ownCloud database. Databases cannot be copied, instead you must use the database tools to make a correct backup.

  2. You can also back up only the directories mentioned above and the database. To avoid issues, you have to use the same tarball version as the ownCloud version when restoring.

Package Installation

If you have installed your ownCloud server from our deprecated Open Build Service and not from our new package repository site, do not back up your ownCloud server files, which are the other files in your owncloud/ directory such as core/, 3rdparty/, lib/, etc. If you restore these files from backup they may not be in sync with the current package versions and in that case will fail the code integrity check and may also cause other errors.

Backup Directories

If possible, simply copy the directories from your ownCloud installation to your backup location, for example by running the following command from the owncloud directory. The following example command copies all directories mentioned above:

rsync -Aax config data apps apps-external /oc-backupdir/

You can also back up the full ownCloud directory which eases the restore as you do not need to install ownCloud first.

There are many ways to backup normal files. Use whatever method you are accustomed to.

Backup the Database

You can’t just copy a database, but must use the database tools to make a correct database dump.

Before backing up the database, set your ownCloud instance into maintenance mode:

sudo -u www-data ./occ maintenance:mode --on
This guide uses a backup file name like owncloud-dbbackup_<timestamp>.bak.


Depending on the database version and the setup, username and password may not be necessary. The general command to back up MySQL/MariaDB looks like this:

sudo mysqldump \
  --single-transaction \
  -h [server] \
  -u [username] \
  -p [password] \
  [db_name] > owncloud-dbbackup_`date +"%Y%m%d"`.bak

Example, replace username and password according your setup:

sudo mysqldump \
  --single-transaction \
  -h localhost \
  -u username \
  -p password \
  owncloud > owncloud-dbbackup_`date +"%Y%m%d"`.bak


sqlite3 data/owncloud.db .dump > owncloud-dbbackup_`date +"%Y%m%d"`.bak


PGPASSWORD="password" \
  pg_dump [db_name] \
  -h [server] \
  -U [username] \
  -f owncloud-dbbackup_`date +"%Y%m%d"`.bak

Backup Cron Jobs

Use this if you want to protect against an accidental deletion of cron entries, plan to restore to a different server like a physical migration or you need to set up a server from scratch.

sudo crontab -u www-data -l > www-data_crontab.bak

Final Tasks

Reactivate Your Instance

Perform the following tasks to reactivate your ownCloud instance:

Bring back ownCloud into normal operation mode
sudo -u www-data ./occ maintenance:mode --off
Enable browser access

Start your web server, or alternatively enable the virtual host serving ownCloud:

sudo service apache2 start