Back up and restore NetScaler instances

You can back up the current state of a NetScaler instance and later use the backed-up files to restore the NetScaler instance to the same state. You must always back up an instance before you upgrade it or for just precautionary reasons. A backup of a stable system enables you to restore it back to a stable point if it becomes unstable. There are multiple ways to perform backups and restores on a NetScaler instance. You can manually backup and restore NetScaler configurations using the GUI, CLI, or you can use NetScaler MAS to perform automatic backups and manual restores. NetScaler MAS backs up the current state of your managed NetScaler instances by using NITRO calls and the Secure Shell (SSH) and Secure Copy (SCP) protocols.

NetScaler MAS backs up and restores the following types of NetScaler instances:

  • NetScaler SDX

  • NetScaler VPX

  • NetScaler MPX

For a NetScaler VPX instance, NetScaler MAS backs up the files depending on the type of data to be backed up. You can create either a basic backup or a full backup.  


You cannot perform the backup and restore operation on a NetScaler cluster.

  • Basic backup: In this type, only configuration files are backed up as these are the files that change regularly. The following table lists the files that are backed up in the respective folders. Note that if a folder name is followed by a “*,” all files in that folder are backed up.

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  • Full backup: In this type, in addition to the files that are backed up by a basic backup, some less frequently updated files are also backed up. The following table lists the files that are backed up when using the full backup option:

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The backed up files are stored as a compressed TAR file in the /var/ns_sys_backup/ directory. To avoid issues due to non-availability of disk space, you can save a maximum of 50 backup files in this directory. You can use the “rm system backup” command to delete existing backup files so that you can create more backups.


  • You cannot use the backup file taken from one instance to restore a different instance.
  • You can back up and restore instances in an HA setup. But ensure to restore the same instance from which the backup file was created. For example, if the backup was taken from the primary instance of the HA pair when restoring ensure you are restoring the same instance, even if it is no longer the primary instance.

To back up and restore NetScaler instances, you must first configure the backup settings on NetScaler MAS. After configuring the settings, you can select a single NetScaler instance or multiple instances and create back up of the configuration files in these instances. If required you can also restore the NetScaler instances by using these backed up files.

Configuring Instance Backup Settings

The Instance Backup Settings page allows you to configure settings on NetScaler MAS to back up a selected NetScaler instance or multiple instances:

In NetScaler MAS, navigate to System > System Administration. In the right-hand pane, under Instance Settings, select Instance Backup Settings, and specify the following:

  1. Enable Instance Backups: By default, NetScaler MAS is enabled for taking backups of NetScaler instances. Clear this option if you do not want to create backup files for the instances.

  2. Password Protect File: (optional) Select password protect option to encrypt the backup file. Encrypting the backup file ensures that all the sensitive information inside the backup file is secure.

    Note: You can download the encrypted backup file to your local machine, but you cannot open the file either with NetScaler MAS GUI or with any text editor. The file can be retrieved and used by NetScaler MAS alone. You are prompted to provide the password when restoring the encrypted backup file. You can, however, open an unencrypted backup file on your system.

  3. Number of Backup Files to retain: Specify the number of backup files to retain in NetScaler MAS. You can retain up to 50 backup files of the current state of a NetScaler instance. The default is three backup files.


    Each backup file accounts for some storage requirement. Citrix recommends that you store an optimal number of NetScaler backup files on NetScaler MAS as per your requirement.

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  4. Backup Scheduling Settings: (optional) There are two options available for creating backup files, though you can use only one option at a time:

    1. The default backup scheduling option is “interval-based.” A backup file is created in NetScaler MAS after the specified interval elapses. The default backup interval is 12 hours.

    2. You can also change the type of scheduled backups to “time-based.” In this option you specify the time in “hours:minutes” format at which the backup should happen. NetScaler MAS allows a maximum of four daily backups to happen on the instances.

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  5. NetScaler Settings: (optional) By default, NetScaler MAS does not create a backup file when it receives the “NetScalerConfigSave” trap. But, you can enable the option to create a new backup file whenever a NetScaler instance sends a “NetScalerConfigSave” trap to NetScaler MAS. A NetScaler instance sends “NetScalerConfigSave” every time the configuration on the instance is saved.

  6. Geodatabase files: (optional) By default, NetScaler MAS does not back up the GeoDatabase files. You can enable the option to create a backup of these files also.

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  7. External Transfer:(optional) NetScaler MAS allows you to transfer the NetScaler instance backup files to an external location:

    1. Specify the IP address of the location.

    2. Specify the username and the password of the external server to which you want to transfer the backup files.

    3. Specify the transfer protocol and the port number.

    4. You can specify the directory path where the file will be stored.

    5. You also have the option to delete the backup file from NetScaler MAS after transferring it to the external server.

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    NetScaler MAS sends an SNMP trap or a Syslog notification to itself when there is a backup failure for any of the selected NetScaler instances.

Creating a Back Up for a Selected NetScaler Instance by Using NetScaler MAS

Perform this task if you want to back up a selected NetScaler instance or multiple instances:

  1. In NetScaler MAS, navigate to NetworksInstances. Under Instances, select the type of instances (for example, NetScaler VPX) to display on the screen.

  2. Select the instance that you want to back up, and then click Backup/Restore.

  3. On the Backup Files page, click Back Up.

  4. You can specify whether to encrypt your backup file for additional security. You can either enter your password or use the global password that you previously specified on the Instance Backup Settings page.

  5. Click Continue.

Restoring a NetScaler Instance by Using NetScaler MAS

Perform this task to restore a NetScaler instance by using the backup file that you had created earlier:

  1. Navigate to NetworksInstances, select the instance that you want to restore, and then click View Backup.

  2. On the Backup Files page, select the backup file containing the settings that you want to restore, and then click Restore.

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  1. For a NetScaler SDX appliance, NetScaler MAS backs up only the following:
  • NetScaler instances hosted on the appliance
  • SVM SSL certificates and keys
  • Instance prune settings (in XML format)
  • Instance backup settings (in XML format)
  • SSL certificate poll settings (in XML format)
  • SVM db file
  • NetScaler config files of devices present on SDX
  • NetScaler build images
  • NetScaler XVA images
  • SDX Single Bundle Image (SVM+XS)
  • Third Party instance images (if provisioned)
  1. You must restore your NetScaler SDX appliance to the configuration available in the backup file. During appliance restore, the entire current configuration is deleted.

  2. If you are restoring the NetScaler SDX appliance by using a backup of a different NetScaler SDX appliance, make sure that you add the licenses and configure the appliance’s Management Service network settings to match those in the backup file before you start the restore process.

  3. Make sure that the NetScaler SDX platform variant that was backed up was taken is same as the one on which you are trying to restore. You cannot restore from a different platform variant.

Back up and restore NetScaler instances