When doing database backup using Backup and Migrate, what is the reasonable table exclusion strategy?

My first guess was:

  • Exclude the following tables altogether - leave that listbox with no selection

  • Exclude the data from the following tables - select all tables that include "cache" word, such as cache_block or ctools_css_cache.

Any comments, any considerations, any recommendations?

  • 2
    The default settings of backup_migrate should already have the cache tables excluded, as well as search_index, watchdog, and session. I recommend their recommendations :) Jan 28, 2013 at 21:37
  • 1
    @CharlieS If you enable a module that has its own cache tables (eg, views), these will be included in your default profile unless you edit it again.
    – mpdonadio
    Jan 28, 2013 at 21:42
  • 1
    @CharlieS It might have been my accidental mouse click that reset their recommended recommendations that you recommend. ;-) Jan 28, 2013 at 22:15
  • @Artur True! The fact that it's a multiple-select list means most folks probably think all of them are unselected, since the few that are selected are pretty far down the list. Jan 29, 2013 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


I have following tables to exclude data (not to exclude the table altogether):

  • all cache_* tables

  • ctools_views_cache

  • ctools_object_cache

  • flood

  • history

  • queue

  • semaphore

  • watchdog

  • search_index

Usually search_index saves a lot of database size.

  • Is this what you have selected in Exclude the following tables altogether or Exclude the data from the following tables? Jan 28, 2013 at 22:15
  • Sorry I updated the answer.
    – AKS
    Jan 28, 2013 at 23:39
  • Thank you for listing it out, have followed the same for backup with my site, anything else I should be looking into? Aug 18, 2013 at 5:57
  • Is there any reason why system table gets backed up. I think it was causing issues upon restore for me. (I.e telling me I needed to update modules that were already up-to-date).
    – JW.
    Sep 7, 2016 at 12:29
  • for Drupal 8 see drupal.stackexchange.com/questions/180898/… Jan 17, 2018 at 10:53

As discussed by Charlie S, Artur and MPD above, the recommended settings are good but you need to watch for additional cache tables from added modules while accidental clicks can, a) lead to needless extra sized or huge mysql files that prevent full fileset/data backups (especially on shared servers); or b) totally useless backups; or c) backups that seem good on restore but are actually total disaster worse than useless because one of the many tables or missing data from a table is missing but not evident until a later time.

That being said, Drupal default Seven theme or other layout/style/css for BaM profiles page is decent and usable, BUT AWKWARD and this can lead to mis-clicks (been there 20 times) or time wasted scrolling up and down, up and down, trying to ensure there is no mis-click. The developers are kind enough to offer toggle between select box and check box but still scrolls up and down in the default theme UI may lead to issues from human error.

To improve the backup Migrate UI when adding or making a profile I use Context module based on path admin/config/system/backup_migrate/settings/profile/add and admin/config/system/backup_migrate/settings/profile/edit/*to get rid of theme sidebars and CSS Injector to "exclude tables" and "exclude data" SIDE BY SIDE with css for HEIGHT as tall as possible and FLOAT right. Side by side human readability are therefore reliability of backup configurations are much easy that way.

The real point in respect to "exclusion table strategy" is that not all BaM Profiles are full backups, and aside cache table exclusion, when creating profiles for table sets for certain purposes, say nodes and fields, just field sets, locations and maps, rules and flags, filters and fonts, etc etc a BETTER INTERFACE for a GOOD SYSTEM means better protection.

  • Non-sense bot generated answer Jan 17, 2018 at 10:42
  • No just a rant about the interface for BaM that can lead to mucked backups. That it does not have "core" click box etc. That there is no nodes only, etc is a shortfall and no guides to a mysql import/merge of a data dump aside whole config rather than restore as full rewrite is why Drupal has acheived only 5% market share.
    – Cymatical
    Jan 17, 2018 at 15:28

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