Introduction to the Proxmox backup server: the web interface

Proxmox backup server is an enterprise-level solution to backup containers, virtual machines and physical hosts. In the first part of this series, we learned how to download and install the distribution. Although the system can be managed from the command line, just like any other Linux distribution, it comes also with a user-friendly, integrated web interface.

In this tutorial we explore the Proxmox backup server web interface, and we learn how to perform basic administrative tasks such as managing users, datastores, network interfaces and certificates.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to manage the Proxmox backup server from the web interface
  • How to manager users, permissions and setup TOTP two-factor authentication
  • How to manage disks and datastores
Introduction to proxmox backup server web interface
Introduction to Proxmox backup server web interface – original image by rawpixel.com on Freepik
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Proxmox backup server
Software None
Other None
Conventions # – requires given linux-commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux-commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Accessing the Proxmox backup server web interface

As we saw in the first article of this series, we can reach the Proxmox backup server integrated web interface at server address, port 8007. The first time we log in, we must authenticate as the root user, providing the password we chose during installation:

proxmox backup server dashboard
Proxmox backup server dashboard



The dashboard exposes important information such as CPU, RAM and disk usage. It also reports a summary of the tasks executed in the last 30 days, those that are currently running, and an overview of the datastore usage. We can navigate the web interface from the vertical menu on the left, which contains two main sections: “Configuration” and “Administration”. Let’s explore them.

The configuration section

By clicking on the “Configuration” menu entry, and the entries nested inside it, we can configure the available network interfaces and the system timezone. We can also set up two-factor authentication and manage users, permissions and certificates.

Managing network settings

To manage network-related settings and the system timezone, we click on the “Configuration” menu entry itself. The interface is really simple and intuitive:

proxmox backup server: network and timezone management
Proxmox backup server: network and timezone management

Managing users

To manage users, permissions, and setup two-factor authentication, we click on the “Access Control” entry. Here the interface is organized in tabs, the first one being “User Management”:

managing users and permissions
Managing users and permissions



To add, edit and remove users, we can click on the corresponding buttons in this part of the interface. To add a new user, for example, we would click on the “Add” button, then fulfill the form with the new user information:

creating a new user
Creating a new user

Configuring two-factor authentication (TOTP)

To improve our server security, we may want to set up two-factor authentication. We can do this by clicking on the “Two Factor Authentication” tab. Here, by clicking on the “Add” dropdown menu, we can select among “TOTP” (Time-based One Time Password), “Webauthn” and “Recovery Keys” to generate two-factor authentication recovery keys for a specific user.



Suppose, we want to set up TOTP. When we click on the corresponding entry in the menu, a popup will appear. Here we need to select the user for whom we need to configure the authentication. A QRcode will be generated and displayed; we need to scan it with an authenticator app such as andOTP (free and open source software) or Google authenticator, then, enter the generated auth code in the “Verify Code” field:

setting up totp
Setting up TOTP two-factor authentication

Managing user permissions

To manage user permissions, we click on the “Permissions” tab, open the “Add” dropdown menu, and click on the “User Permission” entry. In the popup that will appear, we need to enter the “Path” we want to grant permissions to, select a user, and, finally, the access level said user must have on that resource. In the example below, we grant the “egidio” user administrative access to all resources:

managing user permissions
Managing user permissions

Managing certificates

In order to encrypt communications with the web interface, a self-signed certificate as part of the server installation. The use of said certificate generates a warning in the browser; if the server runs in our LAN we can safely ignore it; if the server is publicly accessible, instead, we can obtain a valid certificate from Let’s encrypt, or upload and use a custom certificate. We can manage certificates by clicking on the “Certificates” entry:

certificates management
Certificates management

The Administration section

In the “Administration” section of the web interface, we can find some tools we can use to manage the Proxmox backup server. By clicking on the “Administration” entry itself, we can find a series of tabs, the first of which contains some charts reporting the overall CPU usage and server load:

server status charts
Server status charts



From the second tab, “Services”, we can manage system services. We can see the status of enabled services, stop, start, restart them and check related syslog entries:

managing services
Managing services

Managing repositories and updates

The third tab is dedicated to system updates. Here we can see the list of the packages which can be upgraded. In order to update it, we can click on the “Refresh” button (this is the equivalent of running the `apt update` command). To actually upgrade the packages, we can click on the “Upgrade” button and confirm we want to execute the operation in the terminal prompt that will appear:

upgrading packages
Upgrading packages

When trying to refresh the package list, we may be warned of the absence of a valid subscription to the “enterprise” repository. The usage of this repository, although not mandatory, is recommended, since it contains stable system packages. As an alternative, the no-subscription repository can be used: it doesn’t require a valid subscription to work, but it contains packages which are not as heavily tested as those in the enterprise repo (for more information check out: https://pbs.proxmox.com/docs/installation.html#proxmox-backup-enterprise-repository). Repositories can be managed from the “Repositories” tab. To disable the “Enterprise” repository, for example, we just select it and click on the “Disable” button:

managing repositories
Managing repositories

Managing disks and storage

By clicking on the “Administration -> Storage/Disks” entry, we can manage disks attached to the backup server. In the first tab, we can see the list of the attached storage devices and their partitions. In this case, you can see the /dev/vda disk is used for the system, while /dev/vdb is unused:

disks overview
Disks overview

By clicking on the dedicated buttons, we can: visualize the S.M.A.R.T values of each device, wipe them, and initialize them using a GPT partition table. To use a disk as a backup destination, we must configure it as a backing storage for a directory, which, in turn, we set as a “datastore”. To create a directory on the unused device, we click on the “Directory” tab and then on “Create: Directory” button:

using a disk as a datastore
Using a disk as a datastore



“Disk” is the disk we want to create the directory on (a disk must be unpartitioned to be used) and “Filesystem” is the type of filesystem we want to create on the partition. “Name” is the name of the directory which will serve as a mountpoint for the filesystem. If we tick the “Add as datastore” checkbox (as it is by the default), the directory is used as the backing path for a datastore which is created on the fly:

the new datastore
The new datastore

Managing datastores

In Proxmox terminology, a datastore is a path on the filesystem we use to store backups. To create a backup, at least one datastore must exist. In the previous section, we saw how we can automatically associate a datastore to a directory. We can manage datastores by clicking on the dedicated menu entry:

managing datastores
Managing datastores

The first thing we see, is a summary of existing datastores which includes important information such as the amount of used space, the number of existing backups and prune operations. By clicking on the dedicated tabs, we can manage Sync, Prune, and Verify jobs. To manage a specific datastore, we simply click on its name:

datastores details
Datastores details

Conclusions

In this second part of the series dedicated to the Proxmox backups server, we took a quick look at the various sections of the web interface. We saw how to configure the server, perform basic administration tasks, and how to create directories and datastores. This was nothing but a quick tour. In the next tutorial, we will see how to perform backup of a physical device.



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