Effortlessly Backing Up Paperless-ngx with Cloudflare, rclone, and Docker

| | Allgemein, Programmierung

In the digital age, data backup is a non-negotiable part of managing any document management system. For those of us relying on the efficiency and organizational prowess of Paperless-ngx, ensuring our data is safe and recoverable is paramount. I’ve devised a seamless backup solution that utilizes the power of Cloudflare’s rclone and Docker, guaranteeing peace of mind and data security. Here’s a detailed look into my approach, which is applicable not just for Paperless-ngx but for any data stored on R2 storage. (https://www.cloudflare.com/developer-platform/r2/, Pricing: https://www.cloudflare.com/plans/developer-platform/ (10GB/Month for free))

Step 1: Setting Up the Environment

First, it’s essential to have Docker and rclone configured on your system. Docker containers offer a lightweight and efficient means of deploying applications and their dependencies, while rclone is a command-line program to manage files on cloud storage. For this setup, I use the rclone/rclone:latest image for its simplicity and up-to-date features.

Step 2: Docker Compose Configuration

I use a Docker Compose file to define and run the application. Below is the core section of my Docker Compose configuration for the rclone service:

version: '3.8'

    image: rclone/rclone:latest
      - .config/rclone:/config/rclone
      - nfs_data:/data/data
      - nfs_media:/data/media
      - nfs_export:/data/export
      - /etc/passwd:/etc/passwd:ro
      - /etc/group:/etc/group:ro
      - SYS_ADMIN
      - apparmor:unconfined
    command: sync /data/ r2docs:/r2storagename --exclude=/media/documents/thumbnails/**

This snippet mounts necessary volumes, including NFS shares and rclone configuration directories. The command line specifies syncing the local /data/ directory to the Cloudflare R2 storage bucket r2docs:/r2storagename, excluding thumbnails to save space and bandwidth.

Step 3: NFS Volume Configuration

To seamlessly integrate with my existing network file system (NFS), the Docker Compose file specifies NFS mounts as volumes:

    driver: local
      type: nfs
      o: addr=,nfsvers=4,nolock,soft,rw
      device: ":/Documents/data"

These volumes are crucial for directly accessing my Paperless-ngx data, media, exports, and consumption directories through NFS, facilitating easy backup and restoration processes.

Keep in mind that the nfs part is optional and you could also just use your local folders.

Step 4: Executing the Backup

Once the Docker Compose file is configured, running the backup is as simple as executing docker-compose up. This command launches the rclone container, which then syncs the specified directories to Cloudflare’s R2 storage according to the parameters set in the command section. This operation is not limited to Paperless-ngx data; it can be adapted for any data set that benefits from secure, off-site backups.

Step 5: Automation and Monitoring

To ensure your data is consistently backed up without manual intervention, consider automating this process with cron jobs or similar scheduling tools. Additionally, monitoring tools can alert you to any issues with the backup process, ensuring that your data is always protected.


Backing up Paperless-ngx (or any critical data) doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process. With Cloudflare’s R2 storage, rclone, and Docker, you can set up a robust, automated backup system that ensures your data’s safety and accessibility. This method not only provides peace of mind but also enhances the resilience of your digital document management infrastructure.

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