Open-Source Backups Using Amanda

This well tested network backup tool depends on standard tools such as dump, cron and GNU tar. Find out how to set up regular backups for your whole network.

Each Amanda client stores helpful information from the crontab runs in /tmp/amanda. Here you can find logs from amandad, selfcheck (the check that runs prior to backup) and sendbackup, all with an accompanying date. Once the backups are completed, the tapes stored and changed and all backup procedures completed, it is not yet time to call it a wrap on the data. Amanda includes a couple of handy programs, amverify and amverifyrun, that verify the media as well as the data from any Amanda run that already has taken place. It is a good idea to run through amverify from time to time (as time allows, if not every time) to verify that your backups actually are going to be recoverable. Because you have dedicated the time and effort to configure and carry out a mostly automated and consistent backup scheme, it only makes sense to verify that all is well. And, you are keeping some of your sets of tapes off site, right?

I must quickly mention the sole visual utility available with Amanda, amplot. amplot has the ability to read an Amanda output file and create a graphical interpretation of your backups, allowing the administrator to determine the efficiency of the Amanda install and configuration and whether any changes need to be made.

Walking Barefoot through Broken Glass?

Walking barefoot through broken glass is no fun. That being said, I have been in situations where I would rather walk through that broken glass barefoot than have to deal with miserable data recovery. Data recovery with Amanda, however, is both simple and fun. Well, maybe it isn't exactly fun, but a certain amount of satisfaction comes from restoring data. Running amrecover provides you with an easy-to-use command-line interface for browsing files and directories. The interface allows you to browse, add and extract single files or directories. This entails multiple steps, setting the date, setting the disk and setting the host. For example,

/usr/sbin/amrecover -C myconfig1 -t localhost -s localhost

instructs amrecover to use the DailySet1 configuration (-C), the index host of localhost (-t) and the Amanda server of localhost (-s); see Listing 4.

One fear when dealing with backups, especially indexed backups, is what happens when your master index drive fails. If you're recovering from indexes and your master Amanda drive fails, are you out of luck? Not at all. amrestore allows you to restore a full Amanda image without using indexes and without the need for any configurations. amrestore also can be used to do complete filesystem restores. In my experience, amrestore is most useful if you lose your master Amanda drive. You can start with a fresh install and run amrestore, recover the complete image and begin where you left off with all previous indexes and configurations. As a side note, I make a monthly dump of both the Amanda home directory and the Amanda configuration directories to an alternate machine. This allows me to reference the config files should a master drive die and unexpected problems arise.

Conclusions, Pros and Cons

Amanda is an excellent open-source backup application that is highly configurable to accommodate cross-platform backups. As with all software, it may not be the right application for every environment, but it does fit many backup needs. The following are what I see to be the pros and cons of the Amanda backup software.

Once Amanda is configured and the crontab is set up accordingly, it is possible to have hands-off consistent backups. Amanda can run on almost every UNIX and Linux platform available. It also is able to back up Windows data through Samba shares. In addition, Amanda is highly compatible with most backup media and hardware.

As for the cons, Amanda does not have the ability to span tapes at this time. This means that once each Amanda run is completed, the tape is moved to the bottom of the heap and a new tape is requested. Some users might consider the command-line interface to be a disadvantage. Finally, although it currently can be done, backing up to media other than tape, such as disk arrays, is somewhat difficult with Amanda.

Phil Moses spends his days working as a Systems Manager for the Physical Oceanography Group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. He spends his nights and time off dreaming of tropical environments with clean warm water, uncrowded waves, boats and plenty of tuna. Comments are invited at philmoses@cox.net.

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New documentation

Anonymous's picture

Amanda project has seen lots of new developments lately. It also has a cool new wiki with great documentation:

Amanda Wiki

fsbackup

Anonymous's picture

Other very flexible backup tool:
http://freshmeat.net/projects/fsbackup_project/

Re: Open-Source Backups Using Amanda

Anonymous's picture

Another backup tool to consider:
http://flexbackup.sourceforge.net/

up and running in less then 10 minutes
Supprots incremental and differential backups,
a lot of backup methods: tar/star afio cpio ...
so you don't restricted to something specific

On the fly cdrw?

Anonymous's picture

Although I prefer the command line for burning iso images, when it comes to making data backups, I have an easier time with k3b. I recently tried backing up my mail directory, but I have so many emails (maildir, heavy mailing lists), that the k3b app locked up, and I wasn't able to use it. It's probably about 5 GB in size, including sub-directories. I was attempting to span the mail directory across multiple cdrws for backup, but since it crashed...
Also, from what I understand, since it is about 5 GB, I'm assuming I have to make a 5 GB size iso image, split to fit on the 700 MB disks. Can this be done on-the-fly?

In other words, is there a way to backup a directory, say 5 GB in size, so that the directory is compressed to (example, approximate) about 2 GB using tar or other compression utility, then break that 2 GB tarred file into 3 files, 700 MB, 700 MB, 600 MB, and burn those files to 3 CDs, without needing 2 GB hard disk space to temporarily store the files?

2 GB may not sound like much with today's hard drive sizes, but if the above is possible, I'm also planning on backing up entire partitions, using multiple CD disks (I'm sticking with CDR/RW until the larger DVD drives, 50+GB, come out).

Manually creating tar files, then breaking them up to 700 MB each, then organizing the disks, and making sure there is enough room on partitions for all the data, starts turning into such a logistical hassle that it never gets done. I just want to type out a command, write the label for the cd, stick the cd in the drive, hit enter, have the cd eject, put the next cd in, hit enter again, and continue the process until done.

Is this a possibility? Anyone care to share commands used to tar and burn in the same command using pipes? Or should the commands be separated because of the risk of making coasters?

tia.

Re: On the fly cdrw?

Anonymous's picture

Mondo Rescue + Mindi - http://www.microwerks.net/~hugo/ will compress the source(s) and create and burn multiple iso's for CDs spanning the source. Besides the link to Hugo's (the author) site, see "Bootable Restoration CDs with Mondo", Linux Journal, October 2003. Though, it is meant as a bare metal recovery tool.

mondoarchive for Enterprise Linux... Is there such a thing.

Anonymous's picture

I've used mondoarchive for other distributions, RH7.3, Rh8.0, RH9.0, but I haven't been able to make it work with enterprise es. I've looked all over the net, but I cannot seem to find information about this, binaries, howto...nothing. Almost, like they were swallowed by the earth.

Thanks.

Re: On the fly cdrw?

Anonymous's picture

cdbkup is an excellent tool for this. It will, on the fly, tar the data and split the tar files up onto individual CD's. It has similar tools to concatenate the files back together and untar them to restore. It only needs 650MB of space in /tmp during the backup procedure (as it works with 1 iso at a time)

Re: On the fly cdrw?

Anonymous's picture

I too have the need to backup up a few gigs of data to CDRW.

I use Mondo Rescue, as you can set it to backup direct to the CDRW (it'll prompt you to change CDs) or if like me you want it done overnight, you can tell it to backup to ISO images of the size you specify, then burn the ISOs manually.

Re: Open-Source Backups Using Amanda

Anonymous's picture

Another backup tool to consider:
http://flexbackup.sourceforge.net/

up and running in less then 10 minutes
Supprots incremental and differential backups,
a lot of backup methods: tar/star afio cpio ...
springbreak so you don't restricted to something specific

On the fly DVD should be possible

Anonymous's picture

In other words, is there a way to backup a directory, say 5 GB in size, so that the directory is compressed to (example, approximate) about 2 GB using tar or other compression utility, then break that 2 GB tarred file into 3 files, 700 MB, 700 MB, 600 MB, and burn those files to 3 CDs, without needing 2 GB hard disk space to temporarily store the files?

2 GB may not sound like much with today's hard drive sizes, but if the above is possible, I'm also planning on backing up entire partitions, using multiple CD disks (I'm sticking with CDR/RW until the larger DVD drives, 50+GB, come out).

I have been wondering about a similar situation, and
am beginning to lean towards a DVD solution. The reason is
that some DVD formats (DVD+RW and DVD-RAM) can be made
to act almost like a hard disk. If this works as advertised,
writing a compresed 4G archive without intermediate ISO images is
easy.

This inspired by the writeup at

http://fy.chalmers.se/~appro/linux/DVD+RW/

However, not yet tried this in practice. Should get and installl a DVD drive first (but now DVD writers, even multi-standard ones, are finally begining to be reasonably priced).

But has anyone yet tries this strategy?

I Use Amanda - but am going to move to something else

langles's picture

While the only backup tool I've used to date is Amanda, I'm prepared to abandon it for another tool with features more to my liking - still open-source, of course. Others must have felt the same way, given the number of different backup programs out there. In my search, I've come across these tools with no special support for backups across a network:

afio - http://freshmeat.net/projects/afio/
Mondo Rescue + Mindi - http://www.microwerks.net/~hugo/
storebackup - http://sourceforge.net/projects/storebackup/
Taper - http://taper.sourceforge.net

and these tools that do offer some support for backups across a network:

afbackup - http://sourceforge.net/projects/afbackup/
Amanda CD-RW Taper - http://www.tivano.de/software/amanda/
bacula - http://www.bacula.org
BackupPC - http://backuppc.sourceforge.net
Box Backup - http://www.fluffy.co.uk/boxbackup/
DAR - http://dar.linux.free.fr
Drakbackup - http://people.mandrakesoft.com/~sbenedict/
duplicty - http://www.nongnu.org/duplicity/
FauBackup - http://faubackup.sourceforge.net
Hdup - http://miek.nl/projects/hdup16/hdup16.html
rdiff-backup - http://rdiff-backup.stanford.edu/

There's even a few more tools listed at these two pages:

http://www.backupcentral.com/free-backup-software2.html
http://directory.fsf.org/sysadmin/Backup/

This long introduction leads me to the one page I've found so far comparing various open-source backup tools:

http://www.fluffy.co.uk/boxbackup/comparison.html

By the author of Box Backup - which I'm sure reflects his biases.

It would be nice to see more such comparisons as well as hear peoples' experiences with these various tools.

Backup utilities - open source

turtlewax's picture

I have used cobian backup for some time on the windows OS with great success. Supports compressed backups, FTP, network, encrypted and password locked archives, full/incremental/scheduled backups, more.
It has been freeware for a long time and now it is open source too.
http://sourceforge.net/projects/cobianbackup

In response to the above, the

Mark Ferrel's picture

In response to the above, the closest free/open-source alternative to Amanda that I've found until now is Bacula. While most of the other systems mostly seem to focus on small backups to harddrive or CD/DVD, Bacula is a real client/server backup system (like Amanda) that caters for users who backup a network of multiple clients/servers to tape (ie it has built-in tape/volume handling, scheduling, ...) or other storage systems. Given the problems Amanda had with backing up Win32 machines (when the Samba team changed a single line of output, my whole backup system fell apart) and handling the spanning of backups to multiple tapes, I've migrated to Bacula (that has 'native' backup agents for Win32 and supports tape spanning like everybody else) and never looked back again.

Re: I Use Amanda - but am going to move to something else

Anonymous's picture

I came across this,

http://www.tpci.com/linux_backup_software.htm

it may interest you.

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