Stateless Discourse Using AWS RDS/S3

Hi, I’ve just got a new discourse installation setup - thanks for all the hard work making it so straightforwards!

Ideally I’d like to make my discourse server disposable, so that if e.g. someone accidentally kills it in the EC2 console, I don’t lose any data.

The built backup/restore functionality is great, and I’ve already done a few test runs with that. I’m storing the app.yml, uploads and backups in S3.

The next step would be to move the database to Amazon RDS, for which there’s a great guide here.

My question is - if I do this, should I in theory be safe to terminate the instance, then on a fresh server simply clone discourse, get my app.yml and run ./launcher rebuild app? OR is there other state beyond postgres/uploads/app.yml? Perhaps in Redis?

Thanks in advance!


I think that’s mostly true. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t have two running at once. When you build the new container, you’ll migrate the database, potentially making it unusable for the other container (you can avoid this with skip_post_deployment_migrations). The stuff in Redis is considered ethereal and doesn’t get backed up. I’m not quite sure how or whether some of the stuff there gets restored, but you probably don’t care.


@phil22 - I’ve worked on a setup similar to what you are proposing and its more subtle that you think:

  • The Discourse team puts out multiple releases a month and so you need to stay with your original version when you clone to your new ec2. Normally its ok to blindly upgrade the app, but some releases include major database upgades (PG 12 → PG 13) and if you don’t track this and neglect to upgrade your external RDS, you might get stuck.

  • We found success in having the ec2 use an EBS volume which is also configured to be mounted inside your app container. Using this, we store all of the /shared folder contents. That way when your ec2 instances come and go, you have all of this shared folder content persisted on EBS. Further, sometimes you change your mind about storing files in s3. Having an alternative place to store uploaded files (like the /shared folder) is good in that case.

Hope this helps


Thanks very much both @pfaffman and @Poster_Nutbag - super useful!

EBS does sound like a better option - means we’d avoid diverging from discourse/ at main · discourse/discourse · GitHub.

Following from your advice I think I’m going to go for RDS but to pin to a specific commit of the discourse_docker repo. Whilst it sounds like that will make upgrades more complex, I’m hoping it means that if we do have a problem with the server we’ll have everything safe on RDS and fairly swiftly be able to the same working state without a manual restore.

(We could achieve the same thing with EBS I think, but with volume encryption and unix magic to mount/dismount the volume between instances I’m a bit scared of the process of automating that)