There are two broad strategies for performing HBase backups: backing up with a full cluster shutdown, and backing up on a live cluster. Each approach has pros and cons.
For additional information, see HBase Backup Options over on the Sematext Blog.
Some environments can tolerate a periodic full shutdown of their HBase cluster, for example if it is being used a back-end analytic capacity and not serving front-end web-pages. The benefits are that the NameNode/Master are RegionServers are down, so there is no chance of missing any in-flight changes to either StoreFiles or metadata. The obvious con is that the cluster is down. The steps include:
Distcp could be used to either copy the contents of the HBase directory in HDFS to either the same cluster in another directory, or to a different cluster.
Note: Distcp works in this situation because the cluster is down and there are no in-flight edits to files. Distcp-ing of files in the HBase directory is not generally recommended on a live cluster.
The backup of the hbase directory from HDFS is copied onto the 'real' hbase directory via distcp. The act of copying these files creates new HDFS metadata, which is why a restore of the NameNode edits from the time of the HBase backup isn't required for this kind of restore, because it's a restore (via distcp) of a specific HDFS directory (i.e., the HBase part) not the entire HDFS file-system.
This approach assumes that there is a second cluster. See the HBase page on replication for more information.
The Section 14.1.6, “CopyTable” utility could either be used to copy data from one table to another on the same cluster, or to copy data to another table on another cluster.
Since the cluster is up, there is a risk that edits could be missed in the copy process.