I’m a newbie to openSUSE 11.2 but have my system nicely installed and working but am still very much feeling my way with Linux. Can some more experienced person here recommend to me a backup software for my machine. I would like to backup files & folders (personal data) and also if possible a complete system backup.
a) recommend from direct experience a package that works
b) tell me the best way to make the above two kinds of backups in Linux as I can appreciate the process is different from windows.
This is always a difficult discussion because it depends very much on what you want and the possibilities you have.
To put one question: where do you want to backup to? When to another system, or to removble device, or … will probably influence the choice of software.
Another one: some people only want a backup of thier partitions, so they can restore them when a disk broke down. Others want to be capable to restore individual files of their users when that users tear their hair out because of some stupidity. Again others want archieving, but call it backup. This all influences the solution to be chosen.
It’s not THAT different from the backup issue in Windows. In Windows, you backup your data and when disaster strikes, you reinstall and then restore your data. Of course, the painful part is all the applications, drivers, and customisations, etc. Which is why many Windows users do two things: a full-system backup and a data backup. The former, if it is to permit a bare metal restore, is very different from a file-by-file data backup. I don’t want to, and probably don’t need to, go into this in detail.
The things is it’s not that different with Linux. A backup of /home will give you all your data and most customisations to restore but not the applications that didn’t come with your distro. There are also some apps that store things in weird places outside /home, mySQL being the most notorious.
But things are easier in Linux in that it’s easier to restore the apps (most would be in your distro’s repos anyway). So in short: if you inists on doing a full system backup for a bare metal one-click restore, look into somethink like Clonezilla. If, like most of us, you only need to backup /home (and maybe bits of /usr/local and /var, but opinions and needs differ), use one of the many rsync-based backup apps. You can use rsync from the console or a script but that’s not for novices, so use one of the GUI rsync frontends: the most popular is Backintime, my own favourite is Luckybackup. Both are in the openSUSE repos, so try them out and get back with any more involved questions, we’re happy to help!
Thank you for your replies much appreciated too. I’m an experienced Windows user and I prefer to make (create) full system backups i.e. complete full clone of the entire disk. My preferred location would be a USB 2.0 attached external disk drive. I’m still not that familiar with how Linux organizes the disk in terms of files & folders (I think I’ve pretty much grasped the concept of “root” & “home” but I’m still uncertain about other folders & locations) I’m pretty comfortable with disks & partitions though.
**Can you recommend a program that could make a full system backup for me THANKS!!
**I know this may sound like a dumb question but what file system does OpenSUSE actually use?
I saw mention of Clonezilla. I have not used this. Though I do intend to. I do a complete backup of my opensuse drive from windows using True Image Home (Windows XP software). True Image Home is about the best windows platform clone and backup software. (not free). To backup, the not supported Linux file system, a sector by sector backup must be done. This means one can restore the entire drive but no files within. I have verified a restore more than once - my backup file is around 12Gig.
It uses ext4 (ext3 in previous versions). You can “clone” a disk with, as the name suggests Clonezilla. But even if you insist on doing that every now and then, it’s hardly practical to do that as a daily routine backup which is the most important backup if you value your data (the system is reinstalled easily enough).
Let me explain what a good backup is and why I recommend rsync.
It’s much more than a simple copy of your harddisk. Let’s imagine you accidentally delete some data without noticing it. Then the next backup will delete it too and the data is gone. What you need is a history of 5 to 6 full daily backups.
This would need a lot of disk space and take a long time. The solution is rsync. rsync will only copy those files which have changed since the last backup. This will update the master backup in a short time. Then using this master you create a copy of the master using hard links. This will use up almost no disk space, because the copy consists of links. These copies can be rotated to keep a few days of backups.
When the next backup of the master takes place rsync is clever enough to see that it’s changing a file with another hard link pointing to it. It will unlink that file and create a new copy of it in the master backup. That means that the copies you keep for a few days will only contain those files which have changed in the meantime but they seem to be a complete copy of all your data. The total disk space used will be the space for one complete copy and for all the files which changed within the number of days you are keeping.
The process is done with two simple bash scripts. The first one will call rsync and update the master backup. The second one rotates the daily backups and creates new links. Both may be called from a cron job. I provided pointers to examples for those scripts in the link given above.
Once everything is configured and working fine you will have your daily backups made without even thinking of it. The only task will be to monitor disk space from time to time.
I may add that there is a product around based on it: rsnapshot
rsnapshot does exactly what vodoo describes and it is already complete (well vodoo does also have an impementation ready for use it seems) with config files where you can define if you want to do (a combination of) hourly, daily, weekly, etc., backups.
I use it (well, I stripped it down and adapted it to my own ideas) and I find it very usefull. You can backup to another pllace on the same disk or better to another disk or still better to another system (I use rsunc over ssh for the last one).
That’s a sort of correct answer to the question ‘What filesystems are used by default?’. There are rather more filesystems that could be used if you are prepared to go outside of the defaults (XFS, JFS, ext2, Resiser3, would be the more popular ones, but there are also a number of others that could be considered to be more ‘cult appeal’ and ‘bleeding edge’ candidates, and IIRC Reiser3 was the default back at one time).
Sorry, but I’m not sure how knowing this helps you, so I have no idea what level of detail you require for that purpose.
Some of my own hard experience when I upgraded from opensuse11.1 to 11.2 distros (I wanted to jump on the ext4 bandwagon so I decided to repartition/reformat my hard drive).
If the back up drive you choose is formatted for FAT32 you’ll lose the file users, groups and attributes. I’m not sure if ntfs is any better. But just keep in mind that it can be a pain to restore these attributes.
I now have a ext4 formatted drive I use for backups so I can retain the file meta data at the expense of not being able to use that drive on windows PC (not a big deal for me, but it is a necessary evil for some people).
Are any of the rsync based backup solutions able to work with a “broken” file system?
WOW!! Thank you to everyone here who replied with such generosity & helpful information VERY much appreciated too. special thanks to voodoo about the rsync scripts and how you use them, I myself use Mirror Folder (in RAID1 mode)on my windows workstation but its not quite the same because its all GUI driven. I shall look into rsync THANK YOU so much.
**YES! Thank you for answering my question about Linux openSUSE file system. The main reason I asked was precisely because I didn’t want to come a cropper when making backups by using the wrong formatting process. Now I know Opensuse is using ext4 I will need to reformat the disk I have for making backups so this is why I was asking. To ensure complete compatibility.
THANK YOU to everyone who gave answers & replies. Best wishes & happy new year.
You are welcome. keep in mind that my answers (and I think a lot of others) without mentioning it, take it for granted that you use Unix/Linux file systems to backup from/to. Using a Windows file system is only to be done when you need to interface to Windows data, but it can never be a full functioning replacement for a native Linux fs.
BTW when you decide to “clone” whole filesytems (using dd, or a GUI doing the same thing) it does not matter what fs it is. It is just a dumb copy of all the blocks of the partition. It should be put back on a partition of the same size and then you will find there the same contents.