Backing up

Ouch, backing up is difficult. I bought a bunch of blank DVD-R disks (4.7 GB) to do some backing up. I wanted to start with backing up my music files which is about 30 GB (about 7 DVDs). I thought it would be easy but Linux is just lousy with backup programs, just too many. After a bit of looking around, I picked DAR since it's in Python and can be installed with apt-get. But I soon realized I would need to write a little program to do this simple backup (too many options), in addition I need to tell DAR to call growisofs to create the DVDs. What wasn't immediately clear is that an ISO 9660 DVD can't handle files greater than 2 GB (each). I was creating one huge 4.7 GB .dar file and the silly growisofs program would skip the only file (because it was too big) and then burn an empty DVD. After wasting 3 DVDs playing with settings I gave up.
Now I'm using scdbackup which is simpler and does DVDs no problem.
I would be remiss if I did not mention bacula. Here is my feature list for bacula:
  • It's writen in Python - so it has to be good ;-)
  • It has a great tagline "It comes by night and sucks the vital essence from your computers."
  • It does client/server backups where a client sends the differences to the server (and is thus far faster).
  • It uses a real database to track backed up files like PostgreSQL (but can also do SQLite, MySQL). If the database is lost somehow you can still recover the information from the backup volumes with some tools provided.
  • There exists simple C programs to read and write the volume information directly so that in 20 years can still get to the data, even if the bacula site no longer exists, say.
  • The Windows client (remember client/server?) can backup in-use files using Volume Shadow Copy.
  • It has virtually no limits: can handle files larger than 2GB, 64 bit machines, Unicode filenames, arbitrarily long filenames.
  • Has a rescue CD for Linux to restore from the metal.
  • Has several (!) consoles (Gnome GUI, wxWidgets GUI, web GUI, and a console) where you can make queries and send commands, etc..

So why didn't I use Bacula? Mostly because it's too much for me to read and setup, but also the DVD support is new so I'll need to compile it from sources (and patch mkisofs). But I'm definetly going to start using it soon, it's worth learning.


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