A PHP backup solution using S3

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1.0.2 2017-10-01 20:15 UTC




  • P as in PHP since that's what it's written in.
  • aws as in Amazon Web Services S3 since that is where it backs things up to.
  • Back as in backup since that is what it does.

PawsBack is a PHP CLI tool which allows you to configure multiple backup sources in a configuration file and sync them to S3. The AWS PHP SDK is used for bucket checking and creation, but not for uploading since it offers no intelligent syncing (everything is uploaded every time). PawsBack generates commands for the aws cli tool which does have an intelligent sync mode, allowing you to upload only changed files and delete ones that no longer exist.


  • PHP - developed and tested with v7.0.x but should work on v5.6 as well (see test build with PHP v5.6.22 and PHPUnit v5.7.19). To install with PHP 5.6 change the require version in composer.json, and optionally set the PHPUnit version to ^5.0 to run tests.
  • The aws cli tool, which requires Python. The bundled installer is very simple to install.


To install globally into ~/.composer/vendor/bin:

composer global require chronon/pawsback

You can then symlink ~/.composer/vendor/bin to an existing directory in your PATH (such as ~/bin) or add the directory to your PATH.


A sample configuration file can be found at tests/test_app/test.json and is similar to the one below.


  • required bucket: the bucket to backup to
  • optional region: S3 region, default is "us-east-1"
  • optional profile: aws cli tool profile, default is "default"
  • optional delete: whether to delete S3 files if removed from source, default is true
  • optional options: any additional aws cli tool options to add globally, default is ""


  • required name: the directory on S3 that will be be created and store the data for this source
  • required root: an absolute path to the backup root directory
  • required dirs: and array of directories as key and backup optional options as values

The S3 command documentation has lots of useful examples explaining --exclude, --include, etc. An example is in the sample configuration file below, where in the prefixed subdirectory only files that start with baz_ would be backed up.

PawsBack sample configuration file:

    "provider": {
        "S3": {
            "bucket": "chronon-pawsback-test-1"
    "backups": {
        "sources": [
                "name": "",
                "root": "/home/ubuntu/pawsback/tests/test_app/",
                "dirs": {
                    "shared/img": "",
                    "shared/files": ""
                "name": "",
                "root": "/home/ubuntu/pawsback/tests/test_app/",
                "dirs": {
                    "shared/files": "",
                    "prefixed": "--exclude '*' --include 'baz_*'"


The single entry point is bin/pawsback, which can be run with the -h options for help:

pawsback help:

  -p    The full path to the backup config file
  -v    Verbose output, can be used with dry run
  -d    Dry run, display what would happen without action
  -g    Generate mode, display a list of commands without validating anything
  -h    This help message


  • The -d option for dry run will check and create a bucket if it doesn't exist as it's using the aws cli tool's dry run mode. To just see the commands that will run without checking/creating a bucket or verifying backup paths, use the -g mode to generate a list of commands.
  • All options can be used together.

AWS CLI Configuration

Once installed the aws cli tool can be configured by running aws configure, or by creating the simple configuration files config and credentials in ~/.aws. If multiple profiles are needed, configure the profiles in the aws configuration (see named profiles) and use the named profile in your provider:S3:profile configuration.


Tests (PHP Codesniffer and PHPUnit) can be run with bin/run-tests. Code coverage is 100%, and any pull requests must include applicable tests.