Back to Backups

In my Open-Source Classroom column a few months ago, I talked about backups and got some really fascinating feedback. Here are a few of the ideas from readers worth checking into:

  • Carlos Baptista wrote in as someone who also has struggled with lost data. His current solution is to use rsnapshot on a pair of 4TB drives. Every week he swaps the drives, taking one to his parent's house. This solution gives him low-tech off-site storage, a maximum of one week of lost data in the event of a total failure, plus an excuse to visit his parents on a regular basis. Awesome job!

  • Harald Nipen takes the interesting step of making sure the duplication process for his backups is not automated. That may seem like a silly thing to do, but as someone who accidentally reversed the source and destination on his rsync backup script before, I can assure you there is some peace of mind that comes from manually seeing your backup take place. Harald does, of course, automate his regular backups, but the duplication process for off-site storage is a manual process using the unison program.

  • Nicola Larosa pointed me to an interesting project that uses "content-defined chunking" to back up data efficiently. It's the fastest backup system he's ever used and worth checking out if you have large amounts of data to secure.

  • Finally (for now), Johann Schoonees wrote in about rdiff-backup. It's a program I'd heard of but never really looked into using. That's unfortunate though, because it really is a neat concept. If you've ever used BackupPC to keep rsync snapshots hard-linked to save space, it's a little like that. The program is an all-in-one solution, however, that keeps a current snapshot of a filesystem while also keeping diff files of previous changes. That allows older versions of files to be recovered without the complexity of setting up the entire BackupPC system.

The most encouraging part about getting followup e-mail messages from readers about their backup solutions is to hear that lots of folks actually have backup solutions! Regardless of the complexity of your backup process or the level of automation you deem appropriate for your data, apart from creating the memories in the first place, few things are as important as backing them up! If you have an interesting solution, please let us know in the comments section below.

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Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.