Running as a Systemd service

This guide will get you running Litestream as a systemd service on Debian-based operating systems such as Ubuntu. Running as a background service means that Litestream will always run in the background and restart automatically if the server restarts. It assumes you are comfortable with using a command line.


This guide assumes you have read the Getting Started tutorial already. Please read that to understand the basic operation of Litestream.

Install Litestream & SQLite

Before continuing, please install Litestream.

You will also need SQLite installed for this guide. It comes packaged with some operating systems such as macOS but you may need to install it separately.

Creating an S3 bucket

If you don’t already have an Amazon AWS account, you can go and click “Create Account”. Once you have an account, you’ll need to create an AWS IAM user with programmatic access and with AmazonS3FullAccess permissions. After creating the user, you should have an access key id and a secret access key. We will use those in one of the steps below.

You’ll also need to create a bucket in AWS S3. You’ll need to create a unique name for your bucket. In this guide, we’ll name our bucket "" but replace that with your bucket name in the examples below.

Configuration file

When running as a systemd service, we’ll configure Litestream using a configuration file instead of command line flags so we don’t need to edit the service definition. The default path for the Litestream configuration is /etc/litestream.yml

Litestream monitors one or more databases and each of those databases replicates to one or more replicas. First, we’ll create a basic configuration file. Make sure to replace your AWS credentials with your own, the bucket name with your bucket name, and update MYUSER to your local Linux username.

sudo cat > /etc/litestream.yml <<EOF
access-key-id:     AKIAxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
secret-access-key: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/xxxxxxxxx

  - path: /home/MYUSER/friends.db
      - url: s3://
        sync-interval: 1s

This configuration specifies that we want Litestream to monitor our friends.db database in our home directory and continuously replicate it to our S3 bucket.

After changing our configuration, we’ll need to restart the Litestream service for it to register the change:

sudo systemctl restart litestream

Writing to our database

Now that Litestream is running in the background, let’s create our friends.db database:

sqlite3 friends.db

We’ll create a simple table to store our friends’ names:

CREATE TABLE friends (name TEXT);

Then we’ll insert some rows:

INSERT INTO friends (name) VALUES ('Cory');
INSERT INTO friends (name) VALUES ('Kelly');

Then type .quit or hit CTRL-D to exit the sqlite3 session.

Simulating a disaster

Next, we’ll simulate a catastrophic server failure by stopping Litestream:

sudo systemctl stop litestream

And then we’ll delete our database:

rm -rf friends.db friends.db-shm friends.db-wal friends.db-litestream

This is the state our server would be in if it had crashed and we had rebuilt it but lost our data.

Restoring our database

Our Litestream service and configuration file are still in place so we can easily restore our database. Simply run the restore command with our database path:

litestream restore friends.db

Litesteam will find the database in the configuration file and restore the most recent copy it has from its S3 replica.

You can verify that your data is all there by connecting with SQLite:

sqlite3 friends.db

And querying for your data:

SELECT * FROM friends;

Further reading

You now have a production-ready replication setup using SQLite and Litestream. Please see the Reference section for more configuration options.