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Controller Backup and Recovery


You can recover from the catastrophic loss of the controller if you back up the configuration file, root CA, and database.

The three stateful aspects of the controller are the configuration file, PKI, and the database. Ensure you back up all the files mentioned in the controller's configuration file (keys, certs, root CA bundle, and the database), and the config YAML file itself.

If you're using the Linux service you may accomplish this by triggering the database snapshot operation and backing up the /var/lib/ziti-controller directory.

Backing up the Configuration File

The controller's configuration file is specified as a positional parameter when the controller is run. You can back up this file or provide any valid controller configuration file to recover.

Backing up the PKI Files

It is crucial to back up the irreplaceable root CAs. You can ease disaster recovery by issuing all leaf certificates from an intermediate CA and securing the root CA on a different host. This ensures that the controller's PKI files are replaceable. You can safely remove the root CA from the controller host after it is secured elsewhere, or you can begin with the root CA on a different host and issue an intermediate CA for the first controller and any future replacement controllers.

The controller issues leaf certificates during enrollment from its edge signer CA. If the edge signer is an intermediate, then it's unnecessary to back up the intermediate CA cert or private key because every part of the system is configured to trust the root. The controller's leaf certificate files must begin with the leaf and contain their intermediate issuer chain. This configures the controller to present the partial chain during the TLS handshake, allowing the other party to complete the chain with their copy of the root CA.

The following configuration properties refer to PKI files that must be backed up if not using an intermediate CA.

  • identity may appear in several places and always configures keys, leaf certs, and CA certs. When this property appears at the top level of the configuration file, its ca property has a special meaning and configures a bundle of root CAs that all parts of the network should trust.
  • edge.enrollment.signingCert always appears in one place and configures the controller's edge signer CA key and cert.

Backing up the Database

The Controller uses a Bolt database to store its state. You will use the database snapshot to initialize the replacement controller during recovery.

The database is a writeable file in a path specified by the controller's configuration property db (link to config reference).

Use the controller's built-in database snapshot operation to preserve data integrity. The snapshot operation creates a snapshot file in the same filesystem directory as the main database file on the controller host, so you can periodically back up the directory containing the configuration file and database and snapshots.

ziti edge db snapshot


In a scenario where the controller's state was lost, you can recover by restoring the configuration file, PKI, and database snapshot.

Recovering Configuration File

The path to the configuration file is a controller run parameter. You can restore the same configuration file or provide any valid controller configuration. It's not necessary to use the same filesystem paths on the new host, but the configuration file must be edited to reflect the new paths if they change. You may use environment variables within the configuration file for paths within the db and any identity blocks.

Recovering PKI

The controller's configuration file contains URIs for its private keys, leaf certificates, edge signer CA certificate, and trust bundle. If the URI scheme is not specified it is interpreted as a file:// URI, which may be relative to the directory where the configuration file is located or absolute.

You can restore these files from a backup, or, if using intermediate CA(s), you can instead generate new keys, issue a new intermediate CA cert from the same root CA, and issue new leaf certificates from the new intermediate CA (link to certificate renewal guide).

Recovering the Database

If the controller was lost then a new controller can be initialized with a database snapshot.

If you backed up the directory containing the active database and snapshots, ensure you restore the latest snapshot to preserve data integrity. The backed-up active database file may not be internally consistent.