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#1 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Help me find a backup utility

Posted 04 December 2013 - 07:12 AM

I'm looking for a new backup regime and was hoping the good members of DIC could help me find an awesome solution to back up by personal files. I have a few requirements:

Cross Platform
If my laptop gets stolen, I want to get a new one from a store, take it home and have all my files back on it before the end of the day. I want to choose a Mac or PC with any OS at my whim. Hell, I should be able to make do with a raspberry pi if I want to.

Not on the cloud
A combination of having sensitive data and a horrendously throttled connection for uploads makes this a poor choice. Nobody would care if the sensitive data got lost but they would care if it got out. Encryption might help with the privacy aspect but not with the bandwidth.

Easy to restore
I'm shocked at the number of tutorials that show you how easy it is to back up your stuff but ignore the possibility of having to restore it. Not even a link to the documentation. I want something that is so easy to restore that I'll never have to worry. This also ties in with the cross platform part.

Command Line (Linux or CYGWIN)
I've used GUI backup utilities in the past. In the process of making it easy to back up, they've also made it easy to make mistakes and not notice it. I'm also prone to making mistakes on the command line but at least I'm likely to notice when I've done something wrong. As a bonus, I plan to write a script which will cut down on the human error part.

Automated
I would like to use scheduled tasks or cron. However, due to the nature of laptops, the backup drive won't always be attached. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Fast, Compressed, Versioned (Nice to have only)
If there has to be a manual stage then fast would be nice. I'd like it to be compressed so I can have more versions on my drive and I'd like at least a few previous versions available. These three are just bonuses. The other requirements are not flexible if at all possible.

Tools I have considered:

cp The ultimate in cross platform and ease of restoration. It fits the essential requirements but it's really too slow, and I don't need to backup my music library or photos every day.

tar similar to cp. It would save space but I don't know if making tarballs would speed it up or slow it down. Ultimately, it suffers the same problems as cp.

rsync this synchronises two directories. This would get around the problem of copying everything but it makes it difficult to have several versions.

rdiff-backup does a differential backup but also maintains a full copy of the backed up files and directory structure of the most recent backup. This one is looking like the best option right now.

git Not intended as a backup tool but it has excellent versioning (even for binary files, despite what the documentation says). It's fast and compact too. The main problem is that it would save my versions forever. I'd have to start a new backup in order to delete the old versions. Another problem is that because I also use git for source control there are complexities around subdirectories that are version controlled.

If you got this far then thanks for reading. I'd love to hear what you have to say about the tools I have considered and would love to hear about any tools you can recommend.

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Replies To: Help me find a backup utility

#2 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Help me find a backup utility

Posted 04 December 2013 - 07:17 AM

I suggest daily tar-balls, gzip, & store in a dated directory on an external hard drive. The hard drive is swapped out, per week, per month, whatever you suggest for your situation, & one is taken offsite & locked in a safe. You can also pgp encrypt the data stored on the drives.

However you still have the risk of hardware failure. Also, the backups will grow in size, so there is a ceiling to your archive volume.

But that is the only solution that I can come up with that is :

cross platform
not on the cloud
easy to restore
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#3 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Help me find a backup utility

Posted 04 December 2013 - 07:25 AM

Thanks for the suggestion. Taking the backups off site is a good idea that I had neglected.

Out of interest, why don't you rate rsync or rdiff-backup?
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#4 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Help me find a backup utility

Posted 04 December 2013 - 07:27 AM

I've never used them. Well, I've used rsync, but only for site to site migration, not as part of a backup solution.
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#5 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Help me find a backup utility

Posted 04 December 2013 - 07:39 AM

OK, thanks! :)
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