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Raft Snapshot Agent

Raft Snapshot Agent is a Go binary that is meant to run alongside every member of a Vault cluster and will take periodic snapshots of the Raft database and write it to the desired location. It's configuration is meant to somewhat parallel that of the Consul Snapshot Agent so many of the same configuration properties you see there will be present here.

"High Availability" explained

It works in an "HA" way as follows:

  1. Each running daemon checks the IP address of the machine its running on.
  2. If this IP address matches that of the leader node, it will be responsible for performing snapshotting.
  3. The other binaries simply continue checking, on each snapshot interval, to see if they have become the leader.

In this way, the daemon will always run on the leader Raft node.

Another way to do this, which would allow us to run the snapshot agent anywhere, is to simply have the daemons form their own Raft cluster, but this approach seemed much more cumbersome.


The recommended way of running this daemon is using systemctl, since it handles restarts and failure scenarios quite well. To learn more about systemctl, checkout this article. begin, create the following file at /etc/systemd/system/snapshot.service:

Description="An Open Source Snapshot Service for Raft"



Your configuration is assumed to exist at /etc/vault.d/snapshot.json and the actual daemon binary at /usr/local/bin/vault_raft_snapshot_agent.

Then just run:

sudo systemctl enable snapshot
sudo systemctl start snapshot

If your configuration is right and Vault is running on the same host as the agent you will see one of the following:

Not running on leader node, skipping. or Successfully created <type> snapshot to <location>, depending on if the daemon runs on the leader's host or not.


addr The address of the Vault cluster. This is used to check the Vault cluster leader IP, as well as generate snapshots.

retain The number of backups to retain.

frequency How often to run the snapshot agent. Examples: 30s, 1h. See for a full list of valid time units.

role_id Specifies the role_id used to call the Vault API. See the authentication steps below.

secret_id Specifies the secret_id used to call the Vault API.

Storage options

Note that if you specify more than one storage option, all options will be written to. For example, specifying local_storage and aws_storage will write to both locations.

local_storage - Object for writing to a file on disk.

aws_storage - Object for writing to an S3 bucket (Support AWS S3 but also S3 Compatible Storage).

google_storage - Object for writing to GCS.

azure_storage - Object for writing to Azure.

Local Storage

path - Fully qualified path, not including file name, for where the snapshot should be written. i.e. /etc/raft/snapshots

AWS Storage

access_key_id - Recommended to use the standard AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID env var, but its possible to specify this in the config

secret_access_key - Recommended to use the standard SECRET_ACCESS_KEY env var, but its possible to specify this in the config

s3_endpoint - S3 compatible storage endpoint (ex:

s3_force_path_style - Needed if your S3 Compatible storage support only path-style or you would like to use S3's FIPS Endpoint.

s3_region - S3 region as is required for programmatic interaction with AWS

s3_bucket - bucket to store snapshots in (required for AWS writes to work)

s3_key_prefix - Prefix to store s3 snapshots in. Defaults to raft_snapshots

s3_server_side_encryption - Encryption is off by default. Set to true to turn on AWS' AES256 encryption. Support for AWS KMS keys is not currently supported.

s3_static_snapshot_name - Use a single, static key for s3 snapshots as opposed to autogenerated timestamped-based ones. Unless S3 versioning is used, this means there will only ever be a single point-in-time snapshot stored in S3.

Google Storage

bucket - The Google Storage Bucket to write to. Auth is expected to be default machine credentials.

Azure Storage

account_name - The account name of the storage account

account_key - The account key of the storage account

container_name The name of the blob container to write to


You must do some quick initial setup prior to being able to use the Snapshot Agent. This involves the following:

vault login with an admin user. Create the following policy vault policy write snapshot ./my_policies/snapshot_policy.hcl where snapshot_policy.hcl is:

path "/sys/storage/raft/snapshot"
  capabilities = ["read"]

Then run:

vault write auth/approle/role/snapshot token_policies="snapshot"
vault read auth/approle/role/snapshot/role-id
vault write -f auth/approle/role/snapshot/secret-id

and copy your secret and role ids, and place them into the snapshot file. The snapshot agent will use them to request client tokens, so that it can interact with your Vault cluster. The above policy is the minimum required policy to be able to generate snapshots. The snapshot agent will automatically renew the token when it is going to expire.

The AppRole allows the snapshot agent to automatically rotate tokens to avoid long-lived credentials.

To learn more about AppRole's and why this project chose to use them, see the Vault docs