Backing up a CollectiveAccess installation

Three types of data need to be backed up on a regular basis:

  • The database

  • Digital media

  • Configuration files

All of the procedures outlined in this document assume that you’re using a tool that backs up files - something that copies files on your system to some other archival medium, and can restore them from that medium as needed. This could be a program such as BRU (, AMANDA ( or Bacula ( archiving your files to digital tape or a command-line Unix program such as rsync mirroring files from your server to another server or an external hard drive.

Backing up your database

To back-up your CollectiveAccess database, you need to have MySQL “dump” it to a file and then have your back-up tool archive that file. MySQL comes with a command-line program called mysqldump that can create a complete snapshot of a database in a single file. The snapshot file will contain SQL commands to restore both the structure of the database and all of the data. A typical command-line invocation of mysqldump would look something like this:

mysqldump -udb_login_name -pdb_login_password database_name > /path/ to/dumpfile/my_database_backup.dump

where the db_login_name, db_login_password and database_name reflect the settings on your system, and my_database_backup.dump is the name of the newly created file.

You can automate the execution of mysqldump by adding an invocation to your crontab (on Unix- like systems) or equivalent on Windows. A more featureful solution is a MySQL backup automation script such as AutoMySQLBackup which can take care of naming and compression of snapshots, and can easily handle multiple databases.

Backing up your digital media

CollectiveAccess stores all uploaded and derived digital media in a series of sub-directories under /media in the root of your installation. Simply backing up the entire contents of media is sufficient in most cases.

Backing up your configuration files

CollectiveAccess configuration files are stored in a sub-directory named conf under app (aka. app/conf). This entire directory should be backed up. Your setup.php file, located in the root of your installation and which contains some basic configuration information such as the locations of the application configuration file, should also be backed up.


For a typical CollectiveAccess installation where media and configuration files are stored in the typical (and pre-configured) locations, and assuming that you are writing database snapshots into a “dumps” directory in a location outside of the web server root, you should be backing-up, at a minimum, the following directories:

  • /path/to/mysql/dumps

  • /path/to/collectiveaccess/app/conf

  • /path/to/collectiveaccess/media

  • /path/to/collectiveaccess/setup.php

Depending upon the setup and size of your CollectiveAccess installation, server and back-up system you may elect to simply back-up the entire CollectiveAccess directory structure including the application code and supporting directories, rather than specifically selecting the directories above. This has the advantage of providing a complete ready-to-run backup and is the preferred option if it is possible. If you cannot do this, you can always download the CollectiveAccess application code at