Troubleshoot Backing up Tableau Server

Published: 09 Apr 2019
Last Modified Date: 17 Aug 2020


How to troubleshoot Tableau Server Backup issues.


  • Tableau Server
  • Backup
  • Linux
  • Windows
  • Anti-virus



The Backup process does not have permission to the backup folder

When using the default location, the configuration of folder permission is handled by the Tableau server installation process.
The default location for the backup files is as below:
Operating SystemDefault Location for the backup file
WindowsC:\ProgramData\Tableau\Tableau Server\data\tabsvc\files\backups\

Reapplying folder permissions

In some organizations, Group Policy or other system management solutions are used to standardize permissions and accounts on application servers. If your organization runs a such a solution, be sure to configure the system to accommodate the folder permissions required by the Run As User account. If the folder permissions for the Run As User account have been changed, you can use Tableau Configuration Utility to reapply the permissions. See:


Using a non-default location

If the backup file location has been changed, then you will need to ensure the following permissions:


Principal/AccountPermissions required
SYSTEMFull control


Principal/AccountPermissions required




The use of anti-virus / end point security programs typically will require an exception created for Tableau Server as they may prevent the writing of the backup file.  Not having an exception may also impact server performance.
See Improving Performance by Using Antivirus Exclusions


Other Common Causes

Other causes of backup failures occur due to the permission settings of the user account executing the commands. 
For Windows, set permissions according to Required Run As User Account Settings

For Linux, set permissions according to System User, sudo Privileges, and systemd

Note: Make sure to stop Tableau Server before performing the above steps. 

Disk Space

Another common cause of backup failures is not having enough disk space to perform the backup.

If not enough disk space is available, try one of the following options: 

Reduce the size required for the backup 

You can reduce the size required for the Tableau Server backup by removing old log files and remnant repository files. 

Important: Running tabadmin/tsm cleanup will remove all log files, including those which may be necessary for Tableau Support to assist with troubleshooting if reclaiming disk space does not resolve the issue.  This command when the server is started will remove the majority of old content and will remove the current logs when the server is in a stopped state.  We recommend performing tabadmin ziplogs / tsm maintenance ziplogs and moving the logs to a safe location prior to running the cleanup command.

Pre-TSM (Tableau Server 2018.1 or earlier on Windows):
  1. Open the command prompt as an administrator, then navigate to the Tableau Server bin folder, located by default at C:\Program Files\Tableau\Tableau Server\[Version]\bin
  2. Enter the following commands to clean up remnant repository files: 
    • tabadmin status 
    • If the status is stopped, type tabadmin start 
    • tabadmin cleanup 
  3. Enter the following commands to clean up log files: 
    • tabadmin stop 
    • tabadmin cleanup
    TSM (2018.2 or later on Windows, 10.5 or later on Linux):
    1. Open the command prompt as an administrator (terminal on Linux) on the initial node.
    2. Enter the following commands to clean up remnant repository files: 
      • tsm status 
      • If the status is stopped, type tsm start 
      • tsm maintenance cleanup 
    3. Enter the following commands to clean up log files: 
      • tsm stop 
      • tsm maintenance cleanup
    If cleaning up the service log files and repository does not leave enough disk space for a successful back-up, consider increasing the available storage space by temporarily moving files to another drive. 

    Point the backup to a folder on a larger drive - Pre-TSM only (Currently not available with TSM)

    By default, Tableau Server uses a temp folder on the C:\ drive to store the temporary files for its backup (.tsbak). If the C:\ drive does not have sufficient disk space, you can make Tableau Server use a folder on a different drive, and save the final backup on a drive with more available disk space. The following example uses a shared drive called H:\temp. 
    1. Open a command prompt as an administrator and navigate to the Tableau Server bin folder. 
    2. Type the following commands, and if the path includes a space, use quotes around the full path: 
      • tabadmin stop
      • tabadmin backup C:\temp\backupfilename.tsbak -d -t "H:\temp dir\backup"
    Note: Disk space check is performed during the backup job process however may not perform correctly for work/additional nodes that contain at least one of the Tableau Server processes below and is currently being investigated.
    • Repository
    • Data Engine
    • File Store

    Additional Information

    We recommend as a best practice to periodically backup Tableau Server for recovery purposes. For a backup to successfully restore, the target installation must have the same configuration as the source installation. It is necessary to ensure that a restore was successful before making any configuration changes on a new installation. 

    Although Tableau Server automatically creates a backup during the uninstall process, we recommend performing a manual backup of Tableau Server and copying the file to a safe location prior to uninstall. This protects against failures during the backup or restore process when reinstalling or upgrading. 

    The amount of space required for a backup depends on the size of the data stores, affected by factors such as the number of extracts, number of users and groups and the size of the extract database. As a general rule of thumb, a backup will require about 20% more available space than the space used by the following directory: 

    Windows - C:\ProgramData\Tableau\Tableau Server\data 
    Linux - /var/opt/tableau/tableau_server/data

    Note: If the manual backup is not moved to a separate computer or drive, the disk size required doubles because Tableau Server will also create a backup automatically during uninstallation. Additionally, with some versions of Tableau Server, the mechanism to automatically remove the temporary backup file may not work properly after a failed attempt to write the final backup file.

    Check the following folder:
    • Windows - C:\ProgramData\Tableau\Tableau Server\data\tabsvc\tabadmincontroller\0\backup
    • Linux - /var/opt/tableau/tableau_server/data/tabsvc/tabadmincontroller\0\backup
    This has been addressed in recent releases.

    To change the backup, restore, or send-logs directory, run the following command (see Change the current file location in Tableau Help for more information)

    tsm configuration set -k basefilepath.backuprestore -v "<drive>:\new\directory\path"

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