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Sleep Well: Create a $10.50 Incredible Backup Server in the Cloud with WebDAV

With the impending demise of Copy.com, it seemed like a good time to revisit the subject of backups and to do a little advance preparation for that rainy day when your Incredible PBX™ server decides it’s taken its last breath. We recently documented how to build an Incredible PBX in the Cloud for a one-time cost of $10.50. And we showed you how to build a Linux Sandbox in the Cloud for the same bargain-basement price. Today, we’re adding a third way to spend one day’s lunch money with our new Backup Server in the Cloud at CloudAtCost. And, like the other two, a one-time investment of $10.50 gets you a 10GB cloud repository to store your most important Asterisk® files for life!1 If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can double or quadruple your resources and your storage capacity at the same great 70% off rates with CloudAtCost coupon code: TAKE70. Some have asked us for a referral code to give credit where credit is due. Thanks for thinking of us, but we already have all of the CloudAtCost resources we could ever use. So this one, like the two before it, is on us!


We recommend you start by building an Incredible PBX platform at CloudAtCost using our previous tutorial. Is it production-ready? Probably not. Is it a good standby server which can swing into action when your primary server croaks? Absolutely. Can it be used for off-site storage of backups from your primary Incredible PBX server? You bet. And today we’ll show you how. It’s about a 10-minute process once you have Incredible PBX up and running in the Cloud. We’ll also provide an updated Incredible Backup script to transparently upload backup images to your new CloudAtCost backup server.

Got DAV?It’s been quite a while since we first explored WebDAV back in 2005. Today we’re going to bolt on WebDAV to your existing Incredible PBX platform so that some of that spare storage space in the Cloud can be used to house snapshot images of your Incredible PBX production server. Since this will be a fully-functioning Incredible PBX server in addition to serving as a backup server, it can perform double-duty as a hot standby on a moment’s notice. When disaster strikes, restore the latest backup which happens to be colocated on your Cloud server, and you’ll be back in business.

Overview. As you probably know, WebDAV is an acronym for Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning. Simply put, it is an HTTP protocol extension that allows people anywhere on the Internet to edit and manage documents and other files using the same protocol and port used for surfing the web. In the Mac and Linux worlds, WebDAV provides a Disk Volume that “looks and feels” like any other networked hard disk. In the Windows world, WebDAV is called Web Folders. They can be used like any other mapped drive in Network Neighborhood. If you’re still a little fuzzy about the WebDAV concept, think of how you link to another drive on your local area network. WebDAV gives you the same functionality across the entire Internet with virtually the same ease of use. Depending upon user privileges, of course, you can copy files to and from a WebDAV volume, and the protocol imposes versioning control through file locking to assure that multiple people with access rights don’t change the same file at the same time.

Initial Setup of WebDAV in the Cloud. For today, we’re assuming you already have a functioning Incredible PBX server at CloudAtCost running under CentOS 6.7. If not, start with our tutorial here. If you’d prefer to use the Linux Sandbox configuration for your WebDAV platform, skip down to the next section. To keep things simple, we’re going to set up a separate dav directory within your existing Incredible PBX cloud server to use for WebDAV storage. This means files and folders managed with WebDAV will appear in /var/www/html/dav on your server. We’ll password-protect the directory using Apache web credentials for the admin user. You first must set up these credentials by issuing the following command while logged into your server as root:

htpasswd /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin

To activate WebDAV on your Incredible PBX server at CloudAtCost, while still logged into your server as root, issue the following commands:

mkdir /var/www/html/dav
chown asterisk:asterisk /var/www/html/dav
chown asterisk:asterisk /var/lib/dav
cd /etc/pbx/httpdconf
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/dav.conf
service httpd restart

Keep in mind that WebDAV is running on an Incredible PBX server which means that remote HTTP access will require that your remote IP address be in the IPtables WhiteList. You can add it easily using the add-ip or add-fqdn utilities in /root. Don’t forget, or none of this will work.

Setting Up WebDAV on a CloudAtCost Linux Sandbox. If you’d prefer to set up WebDAV on a Linux Sandbox at CloudAtCost rather than the Incredible PBX platform, begin by installing the sandbox by following along in the Nerd Vittles tutorial. Once you’re up an running, issue the following commands to activate WebDAV:

mkdir /etc/pbx
htpasswd -c /etc/pbx/wwwpasswd admin
mkdir /var/www/html/dav
chown apache:apache /var/www/html/dav
cd /etc/httpd/conf.d
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/dav.conf
service httpd restart

You won’t have to whitelist the IP address of your local Incredible PBX server in the IPtables firewall running on your WebDAV server at CloudAtCost because port 80 already is whitelisted in the default Linux Sandbox setup.

Accessing WebDAV in the Cloud. As installed, you’ll need your username (admin) and your Apache password assigned above to access your WebDAV server in the Cloud. Use a browser for read only access to the dav directory at the IP address of your server, e.g. Or establish a network share to the WebDAV resource for read and write access.

Configuring a Local CentOS/SL Server for WebDAV Access. Linux needs something special in order to treat remote WebDAV resources as part of your local file system. Fortunately, there is a packaged solution that does all the heavy lifting for you. On every CentOS/Scientific Linux server from which you want to access remote WebDAV resources, issue the following commands while logged into the server as root:

yum -y install davfs2
mkdir /dav
cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblebackup-dav
chmod +x incrediblebackup-dav

Configuring a Local Debian/Ubuntu/Raspbian Server for WebDAV Access. The setup drill is much the same as it is for CentOS except the package installation syntax needs to be adjusted. On every Debian, Ubuntu, or Raspbian (Raspberry Pi) server from which you want to access remote WebDAV resources, issue the following commands while logged into the server as root:

apt-get -y install davfs2
mkdir /dav
cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblebackup-dav
chmod +x incrediblebackup-dav

Connecting to Your WebDAV Server in the Cloud. The new Incredible Backup script, /root/incrediblebackup-dav, will automatically make a connection to your new WebDAV server in the Cloud once you’ve entered your admin credentials and the IP address of your WebDAV server. Do this by editing incrediblebackup-dav. Just plug in your admin password and the IP address of your WebDAV server in the Cloud. Then save the file.

In case you’re curious, here is the command to access WebDAV as a file system from your local server. Assuming admin:passwd555 were your remote Apache credentials and was the IP address of your CloudAtCost server, the mount command would look like this:

echo passwd555 | mount.davfs /dav -o username=admin

All of the /dav files on the WebDAV server in the Cloud then would be accessible in the /dav directory on your local server until the WebDAV connection was closed/unmounted. You can add, edit, and delete files and directories. All of your local changes will automatically be synchronized with your WebDAV server in the Cloud.

To close the WebDAV connection, issue the following command:

umount.davfs /dav

Making a Backup to Your WebDAV Server in the Cloud. This is the easy part. Once everything is in place and you have configured the Incredible Backup script with your admin credentials and WebDAV server’s IP address, you’re ready to kick off a backup. Just issue the following command while logged into your server as root:


Restoring a Backup from Your WebDAV Server in the Cloud. There are two ways to do this. If your local server and Cloud-based server are running identical versions of Incredible PBX, then you can restore the backup image to your Cloud server and run Incredible PBX in the Cloud. Simply move the desired backup file from /var/www/html/dav on the Cloud server to /backup and then run incrediblerestore from the /root folder. Once the restore completes, reboot your Cloud server, reconfigure the IP addresses of your phones, and you’re back in business.

If you’d prefer to restore a backup from the Cloud to a local server, then you would first build a new server to match the one from which the backup was originally made. Next, configure the new server to support WebDAV access to your Cloud-based server following the tutorial above. Then execute the following commands after logging into your local server as root. Use the credentials, IP address, and actual backup filename saved on your Cloud server:

mkdir /backup
cd /root
echo passwd555 | mount.davfs /dav -o username=admin
cp /dav/backupfilename.tar.gz /backup/.
umount.davfs /dav
./incrediblerestore /backup/backupfilename.tar.gz
rm /backup/backupfilename.tar.gz

WebDAV Cautionary Notes and Gotchas. First, WebDAV does a lot of heavy lifting under the covers because its intended for use as a collaboration tool by multiple people accessing and updating the same resources. So synchronization is important. When we’re moving huge files from a local server to the WebDAV cloud, this synchronization activity can give the appearance that your server has hung either during the backup procedure or thereafter. It hasn’t. So, after you run the Incredible Backup script to upload a new backup image, leave your server alone for a while. On your local server, don’t attempt to list /dav or otherwise use it for about an hour to be safe. On a Raspberry Pi, just be patient while the backup procedure completes. After that, you should be good to go. Depending upon the Linux flavor of your local server, the Incredible Backup script may not dismount your WebDAV resource successfully. You can do this manually LATER although it won’t hurt anything to leave the connection in place. As noted above, the dismount command is umount.davfs /dav.

Second, be very careful in configuring Incredible Backup to make certain that you specify the correct IP address for your WebDAV server in the Cloud. WebDAV will try to connect to any IP address, and you don’t want to inadvertently upload your backup files to someone else’s server. Third, ALWAYS use a web browser to access your WebDAV server in the Cloud after your backup completes to make certain that a backup with the current date and time is shown in the directory listing. Particularly with RedHat OS flavors, it may take some time for the entire tarball upload to complete even though the script will indicate it has finished. Again, patience is a virtue. Don’t reboot. Things will get sorted out in due course.

Finally, as with other network connections, if the WebDAV connection fails for some reason, your backup would be stored locally in the /dav folder rather than on WebDAV in the Cloud. That’s obviously not too helpful in the event of a local disk crash. So don’t forget to check your WebDAV server in the Cloud to verify successful completion of the backup.


Republished: Monday, April 25, 2016

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  1. The lifetime promise is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. It may be your lifetime but, more than likely, it’s the lifetime of CloudAtCost. The two are not necessarily the same so plan accordingly. 🙂 []