Learn How To Encrypt Every Database Backup And Save On Google Cloud Platform

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Encrypt Database Backup And Save On Google Cloud Platform

To improve backup functionality I add syncing encrypted backups to GCP.

Paul Knulst  in  Programming Dec 7, 2021 4 min read

To improve my backup strategy I add syncing encrypted backups to GCP with a CronJob, OpenSSL, and a simple Bash script. This Tutorial will explain how everyone can implement my personal strategy.


After I set up my database backup using a cronjob I was thinking about a good solution to have also backups in case of a server crash.

You can read how I created my own simple backup strategy here:

Everybody Needs Backups - A Lesson Learned The Hard Way
A big incident within my Docker Swarm and the solution I developed after it occurs.

The first idea was something like a rsync job which runs on my laptop and downloads the DB every day. But this is not a really good solution so I thought about one including cloud storage. Because GCP has $300 in free credits at the moment I choose it over AWS.

I created a free account here and then I created my first Storage Bucket.

Installing Google Cloud SDK

After the initial setup within the cloud console was done I performed the following steps to connect my server to the google storage. If you are working with a Docker Swarm this procedure has to be repeated on EVERY worker within my swarm. If you want to set up a Docker Swarm, you can read about it in another article from me.

Downloading Google Cloud SDK

curl -O https://dl.google.com/dl/cloudsdk/channels/rapid/downloads/google-cloud-sdk-353.0.0-linux-x86_64.tar.gz

Extract it

tar -xf google-cloud-sdk-353.0.0-linux-x86_64.tar.gz

Install the SDK


After the installation process is done you have to reconnect the shell!

Initialize the SDK

./google-cloud-skd/bin/gcloud init

During the initialization, I had to login into my google account

Find the bucket

gsutil ls

Now the machine is connected to GCP and I can use gsutil to backup my data.


Now that I have a google connection on every server I could start to create the backup script. But I first gathered information on how to zip the database backups and store them in an encrypted way. Google should not have my database! I know: paranoia

I choose a procedure for encryption that uses a password file on the system (which I also downloaded to my machine). So I had to create a secure password and export it into a variable which then can be used within a script.

Generate a random password in a file:

head -c 100 /dev/urandom | strings -n1 | tr -d '[:space:]' | head -c 40 >> ~/.pass

Export file to .bashrc to use it while I am within the shell:

echo "export PASS=~/.pass" >> ~/.bashrc && source ~/.bashrc

Make file โ€œsafeโ€:

chmod 400 ~/.pass

With these .pass file I can encrypt and zip a folder with:

tar czf - . | openssl enc -e -aes-256-cbc -pbkdf2 -iter 100000 -salt -out archive.enc -pass env:PASS

To decrypt I have to use:

openssl enc -d -aes-256-cbc -pbkdf2 -iter 100000 -salt -in archive.enc -pass env:PASS | tar zxf - --directory backup_restore

Creating the backup shell script

The last step was to really create a shell-script which will then be executed within a cronjob. After researching and testing this script was created:

TIME=$(date +%Y-%m-%d)

if [ -z "$(ls -A .)" ]; then
   exit 1
  tar czf - . | openssl enc -e -aes-256-cbc -pbkdf2 -iter 100000 -salt -out $BACKEDUPFILE -pass env:PASS
  /PATH_TO_GOOGLE_SDK_FOLDER/google-cloud-sdk/bin/gsutil -m rsync -r $BACKUPSAVEPATH $TARGET || exit 1
  rm -rf /YOUR_BACKUP_STORAGE_PATH/backups/*

Important to know if you read/use this file:

  1. Replace YOUR_BACKUP_STORAGE_PATH with your path where you store your backups. This folder has to have two subdirectories: backups_encrypted and backups
  2. YOUR_BUCKET_HERE should be replaced with your bucket which you want to use. Find it with gsutil ls
  3. PATH_TO_GOOGLE_SDK_FOLDER is the folder in which you installed the Google Cloud SDK

This script can now be used within a cronjob:

30 1 * * 6 export PASS=/root/.pass; /bin/sh /PATH_TO_SCRIPT/SCRIPTNAME.sh

This cronjob is executed at 1:30 every Saturday. Use crontab.guru for crontab creation

VERY IMPORTANT: You have to export the PASS variable before executing the script because a cronjob is not executed within the same bash in which you are as a user and then the prior exported PASS variable does not exist

ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: Remember to recreate the cronjob on every worker node within the swarm (if you use a Docker Swarm). Otherwise, data will be lost.

Closing Notes

Within this simple How-To, I explained how I used Google Cloud SDK to save an encrypted zip file in my Google Bucket here.

I have another Tutorial that explains How you can upload files to Amazon. You can copy the encryption part from this tutorial and combine it with the file upload to S3:

How To Backup Your Files To AWS S3
This article will guide you on how to backup your data to AWS S3. S3 is an abbreviation of Simple Storage Service and provides multiple ways to upload a file or folder. To create a FREE AWS accountโ€ฆ

I hope you find this article helpful and are also able to save your valuable backup within the Cloud. I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have any questions please contact me.

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By Paul Knulst

I'm a husband, dad, lifelong learner, tech lover, and Senior Engineer working as a Tech Lead. I write about projects and challenges in IT.