[clug] Neat Backup Solutions for desktops...

Daniel Pittman daniel at rimspace.net
Sun Dec 6 06:28:25 MST 2009

steve jenkin <sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au> writes:

> A friend was enthusing recently about his OS/X system and "Time
> Machine". This ZDnet piece on "Google Backup" prompted a thought.
> <http://blogs.zdnet.com/perlow/?p=11720>
> Like many 'experienced' admins/Unix Users, I take backup/restores seriously
> on servers I manage for others but have poor or no solutions for my
> desktops...  The sort of solution "Time Machine" provided for my friend.

If I was setting up something for a single user, stand-alone, I would look to
something like "keep" (for KDE), or a GNOME equivalent, that provided a GUI
interface to the backup system.

This is because usability of restores is the most critical aspect, in my
experience, for individual users.

For myself, I use BackupPC which is far from perfect, but offers a very
compelling online "disk" backup solution for multiple machines; it is
especially valuable that it preserves a single copy of a file regardless of
the number of machines they live on; deduplication is worth a lot on a home

Otherwise, folks have already suggested rsnapshop, rdiff-backup, and dirvish,
which are the other tools I would consider for disk-based backups.  I like
them less well than BackupPC, but your needs may be different to mine.

Finally, if you want tapes, or some equivalent of tapes, *nothing* beats using
Amanda — as long as you are willing to delegate the backup cycle to the
software, and simply instruct it on the requirements.[1]

> Recently I played with DRBD at work and thought "this'd be great to mirror
> my work desktop root & home filesystems to another m/c".  I've not done that
> because it didn't seem to be common usage...

Well, also because it doesn't provide backup, it provides disaster recovery:
DRBD will instantly replicate the mistake of deleting a single file or
whatever, so you don't have any recourse for anything but the bare metal "all
dead" failure case.

(Well, theoretically you could ensure you freeze the file-system before you
 disconnect, and live with restoring a single file invalidating the entire
 backup device and requiring a full resync...)

Like any other RAID, this is to protect against hardware failures, not against
the issues of data loss that backup mostly protects you from.


[1]  An annoyingly large number of businesses can't cope with the idea that
     you can't just tell it "full backup on Friday" and have it work, so lose
     an enormous amount of value in return for that particular feature, IMO.

✣ Daniel Pittman            ✉ daniel at rimspace.net            ☎ +61 401 155 707
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