Easy and automated backups of a dockerised Ghost blog
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backup.sh update readme Oct 13, 2018



ghost-backup is a simple, automated, backup (and restore) Docker container for a Ghost blog. It supports Ghost configured with either sqlite or mysql/mariadb.

ghost-backup can:

  • Take a full backup of your ghost blog with a single backup command
    • Database backup (mysql or mariadb)
    • Content files backup (images, themes etc)
    • Json file backup (retrieved by accessing the export feature of the ghost api)
  • Automate backups according to any arbitrary schedule (via cron)
  • Allow restore of files selectively and interactively
  • Be extensively customised

By default it will create a backup of your ghost content directory (images, themes, apps etc), the database (actual posts), and the exported json file daily at 3am, keeping the most recent 30 backups of each.

When using sqlite, the db backup/restore is handled using the command line shell of the online backup API. For mysql/mariadb, it uses mysqldump.

Quick Start (Ghost using sqlite)

Ghost uses sqlite by default if you have not changed the configuration to mysql.

Create and run the ghost-backup container with the volumes from your Ghost data container:

docker run --name ghost-backup -d --volumes-from <your-ghost-container> bennetimo/ghost-backup


<your-ghost-container> is either your Ghost blog container, or a separate data-only container/volume holding your blog files. Basically, wherever your blog content lives.

That's it! This will create and run a container named 'ghost-backup' which will create a backup of your Ghost database and content files under /backups inside the ghost-backup container every day at 3am.

If you want json file backup also, a few more options are required

The below sections walk through customizing the backup.

Quick Start (Ghost using mysql/mariadb)

If your Ghost configuration is using mysql/mariadb then you just need to start the ghost-backup container on the same network as your database container, so that it can talk to your database.

docker run --name ghost-backup -d \
    --volumes-from <your-ghost-container> \
    --network=<your network> \
    -e MYSQL_USER=<yourdbuser> \
    -e MYSQL_PASSWORD=<yourdbpassword> \
    -e MYSQL_DATABASE=<yourdatabase> \


  • <your-ghost-container> is as above
  • <your-network> is a network that your database container is connected to. It should be accessible using the hostname 'mysql' which you can set with --network-alias
  • MYSQL_ vars are the details needed to access your database

This could also be setup via container links, but this feature is now considered legacy and deprecated.

Configuring the backup location

By default, the backups will live in /backups inside the ghost-backup container. You can verify they're there with docker exec ghost-backup ls /backups.

To mount the backups directory somewhere on the host add: -v </backup/folder/on/host>:/backups to your docker run command.

To use docker volumes, first create the volume, then attach it to both the ghost container and backup container. See the bottom of this readme for an example docker-compose configuration using volumes.

To change the backups folder used in the container set the env var: BACKUP_LOCATION=/your/new/location

Ghost json file backup/restore setup

Ghost labs has had a feature to export your blog content as a single json file for a long time. Since version 1.x+ it is also possible to import a json file. This is a mandatory step when upgrading from ghost 0.x to 1.x as the database format changed. ghost-backup can be configured to export/import this json file using the exact same api that it used when you initiate this manually via http://yourghostblog/ghost/labs.

If you import a json file twice, all posts will be duplicated. The API does not seem to currently filter out duplicate posts so be careful

To use the json api, ghost-backup needs to authenticate and obtain an access token, and needs to be able to communicate with your ghost service.

You need to configure the following additional environment variables, so that an access token can be retrieved:

  • GHOST_SERVICE_USER_EMAIL # The email address of a user configured in your ghost installation (N.B. this should be uri encoded, e.g. my-email.%40example.com)
  • GHOST_SERVICE_USER_PASSWORD # The password for that user

A good idea would be to create a new user in your ghost admin panel specifically for ghost-backup and use those credentials here

ghost-backup expects to be able to communicate with your ghost service via the hostname ghost using the default port of 2368. If you need to override these, you can override the env vars:


To use the json api a client id and secret is also required. With a standard ghost install there are several clients preconfigured, including 'ghost-frontend' and 'ghost-backup'. Each of these gets a secret randomly generated and put into the database. By default ghost-backup will use the 'ghost-backup' client and read the corresponding secret from the database so you do not need to configure this. However if you need to override the client used for any reason, you can set the CLIENT_SLUG for your ghost-backup container.

A full configuration with support for json import/export might look like this:

docker run --name ghost-backup -d \
    --volumes-from <your-ghost-container> \
    --network=<your-network> \
    -e MYSQL_USER=<yourdbuser> \
    -e MYSQL_PASSWORD=<yourdbpassword> \
    -e MYSQL_DATABASE=<yourdatabase> \
    -e GHOST_SERVICE_USER_EMAIL=<my-email.%40emample.com> \
    -e GHOST_SERVICE_USER_PASSWORD=<mypassword> \

Perform a manual backup

docker exec ghost-backup backup

This will create an immediate backup. You should now have backup files created in the backup folder (/backups by default). One archive is the database, one the archive of your content files, and if configured also a json export of your ghost blog.

Note that backups are tagged with the date and time in the form yyyymmdd-hhmm, therefore if two backups are created in the same minute then the second will overwrite the first.

Restore a backup

A backup is no good if it can't be restored :) You can do that in three ways:

N.B. After a database restore you will likely need to restart your ghost block container to see the changes

Interactive restore

You can launch an interactive backup menu using: docker exec -it ghost-backup restore -i This will display a menu with all of the available backup files. You can select which to restore by number or name.

Using interactive backup you can restore a DB archive separately to a Ghost files archive

By date restore

You can also restore by date:

docker exec ghost-backup restore -d yyyymmdd-hhmm This will restore the backup files from yyyymmdd-hhmm, if found.

Date restore expects to find both a db and content files archive for the corresponding date, or will stop. If you want to restore just one of the other (or a json file), use either file restore or interactive restore

By file restore

You can restore a given file mounted to the container:

docker exec ghost-backup restore -f /path/to/file/filename

N.B. Be sure to use fully qualified path names when restoring a single file

In place restore

By default the restore script will remove the ghost files from GHOST_LOCATION/content before restoring the archive, except for the database which is handled separately.

To restore without removing files first you can specify the command argument capitalised, e.g. -I, -D, -F.

Matching files to restore

ghost-backup uses the following matches to determine whether a file to restore is a db archive, content archive, or json file:


If you rename your backup files, they must match these patterns to be able to restore.

Advanced Configuration

ghost-backup has a number of options which can be configured as you need.

Environment Variable Default Meaning
BACKUP_TIME 0 3 * * * A cron expression controlling the backup schedule.
BACKUP_LOCATION /backups Where the backups are written to
BACKUPS_RETAIN_LIMIT 30 How many backups to keep. Oldest are removed first
LOG_LOCATION /var/log/ghost-backup.log Location of the log file
AUTOMATED_BACKUPS true Whether scheduled backups are on
GHOST_LOCATION /var/lib/ghost/content Location of ghost content and db files
BACKUP_FILE_PREFIX backup Prefix for all created backup files
MYSQL_SERVICE_NAME mysql Hostname of mysql container (if applicable)
MYSQL_SERVICE_PORT 3306 Port of mysql container (if applicable)
SQLITE_DB_NAME ghost.db Name of sqlite database (if applicable)
CLIENT_SLUG ghost-backup client used for authenticating with the ghost json api
GHOST_SERVICE_NAME ghost Hostname of ghost container (if applicable)
GHOST_SERVICE_PORT 2368 Port of ghost container

For example, if you wanted to backup at 2AM to the location /some/dir/backups, storing 10 days of backups you would use:

docker run --name ghost-backup -d \
        --volumes-from <your-data-container> \
        -e "BACKUP_LOCATION=/some/dir/backups" \
        -e "BACKUP_TIME=0 2 * * *" \
        -e "BACKUPS_RETAIN_LIMIT=10" \

This example is for Ghost using sqlite. If you're using mysql/mariadb just add the linked mysql containers as described above.

Disable backup types

By default, the backup will have a Ghost content files archive, a DB archive, an exported json file (if connected to your ghost service) and purge any excess old backups specified by the BACKUPS_RETAIN_LIMIT. Each of these can be disabled with command arguments:

  • -D //Do not include a DB archive
  • -F //Do not include a ghost content files archive
  • -J //Do not include a ghost json file export
  • -P //Do not purge old files

For example to perform a backup of just the DB with no purge:

docker exec ghost-backup backup -FJP

Backup to Dropbox

You can configure the backup location as you wish, which if used in conjunction with bennetimo/docker-dropbox will backup to a Dropbox folder.

To do this, you need to have a dropbox container running, linked to your account: docker run -d --name dropbox bennetimo/docker-dropbox

You need to link this container to your Dropbox account first, see docker-dropbox quickstart

Then create your backup container using the Dropbox volume:

docker run --name ghost-backup -d \
        --volumes-from <your-ghost-container> \
        --volumes-from <your-dropbox-container> \
        -e "BACKUP_LOCATION=/root/Dropbox" 

That's it. Now if your Dropbox container has been linked correctly to your account you'll have a backup of your blog added every day at 3am to your Dropbox.

View the logs

docker logs ghost-backup Will display logs of all of backup runs (manual and automated) and restore operations. By default the log file is at: /var/log/ghost-backup.log

Disabling automated backups

If you want to disable automated backups and just perform them manually as necessary, then you can stop the crontab installation by starting your container as:

docker run -d --name ghost-backup \
    --volumes-from <your-ghost-container> 
    -e "AUTOMATED_BACKUPS=false" bennetimo/ghost-backup

Now you can run: docker exec ghost-backup backup

Every time you want to take a backup. You can restore as normal (described above).

Using ghost-backup for cloning an environment locally

You can use ghost-backup to create a local test environment for your blog, with all the posts and content. This allows you to write your posts, tweak your theme and check everything is working locally before cloning it exactly on your live blog. To do this:

  1. Setup your local/dev dockerised ghost blog
  2. Setup the ghost-backup container for your local blog as described in this readme, with e.g. Dropbox as the backup location
  3. Create a live dockerised blog on your remote server, also with ghost-backup configured to use a suitable backups mount

Now your workflow will be:

  1. Write/edit content locally
  2. Take a local backup with docker exec ghost-backup backup
  3. Transfer your backup archives to your remote host (e.g. scp/DropBox) to the mounted backup location
  4. On the remote host docker exec ghost-backup restore -i and restore your backup files
  5. Restart your remote ghost blog to pick up changes

Example Docker Compose Configuration

Using docker-compose makes it easy to configure all the requirement components.

The example configuration below will startup a ghost container, mariadb container and ghost-backup container all on the same network so that ghost backup can work.


  1. docker-compose up
  2. View your blog at http://localhost:2368/
  3. Take a backup with docker exec ghost-backup backup

When first starting up, ghost may try to connect to the mysql container before it is ready for connections generating a few error messages. After a few tries it will succeed, or to avoid this you can start the mysql container separately first, or do something else to control startup order

version: "3.7"

 # Ghost container
  image: ghost:1.25
  restart: always
   - "2368:2368"
   - database__client=mysql
   - database__connection__host=mysql
   - database__connection__database=ghost
   - database__connection__user=yourdbuser
   - database__connection__password=yourdbpassword
  - "data-ghost-content:/var/lib/ghost/content"

 # Database container
  image: mariadb:10.3
  restart: always
   - MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=myrootpassword
   - MYSQL_USER=yourdbuser
   - MYSQL_PASSWORD=yourdbpassword
  - "3306"
  - "data-ghost-db:/var/lib/mysql"

 # Ghost backup container
  image: bennetimo/ghost-backup:1.25
  container_name: "ghost-backup"
   - MYSQL_USER=yourdbuser
   - MYSQL_PASSWORD=yourdbpassword
  - "data-ghost-content:/var/lib/ghost/content"

# Data volumes containing all the persistent storage for the blog

N.B. The above is shown as a self contained file for completeness. But, you'd probably want to look at using env_files or multiple compose files for better separation


Ghost 0.x to 1.x introduced some breaking changes so backups and restores between them are not possible without a little work.

ghost-backup 0.7.3 is an earlier version of this container for ghost 0.x releases.

ghost-backup 1.x is for ghost 1.x+ releases.

Migrating from ghost 0.x to 1.x+

Follow ghosts migration guide.

Database backups will not be compatible between these two major versions. However the json backup is.

For content files that used to live under /var/lib/ghost in 0.x moved to /var/lib/ghost/content in 1.x, as well as there being a few other changes with config/themes etc.

Other Info

This container was inspired by wordpress-backup.

Disclaimer: Will not be held responsible for any loss of files/backups arising from your use of this container. Be sure to test your backup/restore process when you first set everything up to make sure it is all working as you expect.