Easy personal back-ups

10:25 am freesoftware, General, home

I’m looking for a back-up solution which is easy to use. Ideally, I don’t want to have to decide what I need to back up and what I don’t – disk space is not an issue.

My dream app would be a graphical application which has back-up profiles – system configuration, personal data, application settings, media files, and maybe user-installed applications.

Ideally, I would be able to do incremental back-ups (à la rsync) where the weekly back-up will only be saving the new email, files and pr0n, and not the 30GB that was backed up first time round.

Also, a restore facility would be nice. In the past, when I have backed up files and had to restore, I have had issues because the user files were backed up for uid 501, and the corresponding account after installing the system anew was 502 (or something like that). I don’t want to have to think about user rights – I want to, as root, restore the system, and have user accounts, files, configuration all recreated as they were at the last back-up.

Anyone know of an easy one-click solution for Linux for the man who wants back-ups, but doesn’t want to have to think about them?

Update: I should probably mention that the back-ups will be to an external USB disk, and will be on-demand. I don’t want to leave the disk plugged in all the time, and I don’t want to have to think about plugging it in on Thursday evening to have the back-up done on Friday morning. Also, I’ll be backing up 3 different systems – including 2 on one double-boot machine. So ssh + rsync via a cron job is probably not the idel solution (but many thanks for the many people proposing it).

15 Responses

  1. Robert Says:

    http://www.nongnu.org/rdiff-backup/
    could be what you are looking for. I use it weekly to sync 3 whole disk partitions of my notebook, to external usb drives.

    Lately I have a problem with a 250GB usb drive though, could be unrelated (after a while, the backup stops with error ‘read-only filesystem’)

  2. pel Says:

    I suggest that you check out this blog post:
    http://www.kryogenix.org/days/2006/10/25/my-home-backup-system

    In the end you use nautilus to mark what files to back up using emblems and rsync gives you nice incremental backups. I’ve been using something similar for many years and it pretty much “just works” and is dead simple to use on most platforms (iirc I did windows backups this way around Y2k).

    Two issues remain (but are rather simple to solve with som basic scripting knowledge): restore and purging old backups. The first I usually solve using cp -a and the latter with another cronjob that counts the number of backups I have. I also export some user backups over https for silly reasons – otoh it was a five minute job to set up.

    I just love it. Someone should make a package or two out of this. ;-)

  3. Ali Sabil Says:

    Unison ? there is a unison-gtk interface and it works pretty well :)

  4. DaDaDom Says:

    I also would recommend rdiff-backup, or, as a “meta-program”, backupninja (http://dev.riseup.net/backupninja/). At least rdiff-backup works flawlessly with my laptop every 12 hours, backing up my whole home. Several GBs – and on the other side, it’s only a DSL connection! So yes, it is reliable, even over slow and unstable connections.

  5. Paul Cooper Says:

    I’ve played with http://sbackup.sourceforge.net/HomePage and thought it was pretty good, has a GUI, does incremental backups, works on a schedule, etc. However I still find myself using my hand crafted rsync script – not sure why entirely other than it’s just dead simple to get to a file on the backup – plug the disk in and just cp it over. No need to fuss with tar or anything else (i.e. just laziness).

  6. Mike Says:

    I really like Unison. The graphical frontend is really easy to use and really simple. The only real downside is that the method to create profiles is not the most straightforward possible, and as far as I can tell you have to just edit the text files to edit the profiles.

    I use Unison all the time to synchronize all the important stuff between my desktop and laptop.

  7. rodrigo Says:

    I’ve been using rsync for years to sync my desktop/laptop/backup server, and with the SSH with no password thing, you can even put it on your crontab and don’t need any intervention at all.

    It’s not graphical, but since it’s automated, what do you want the UI for? :-)

  8. Andreas Nilsson Says:

    I haven’t tried either of these, but Time Vault thing looks promising.
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HomeUserBackup
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TimeVault

    It would be nice to have some kind of backup solution with good GNOME integration shipped in the desktop release.
    (that backs up your chat logs, contacts and stuff as well)

  9. sil Says:

    pel recommends my backup system. It is emphatically not one-click-setup; setting it up requires a certain amount of fiddling. Once it’s set up then it just works with no fiddling whatsoever, but it’s certainly not designed for trivial usage. Give it a try if you want, but I’ve thought in the past that an easier backup system would help a lot. (It will require some work on both a server and a client that hook together to make this work, though, and it’s One More Project that I personally don’t have time for.)

  10. Joachim Sauer Says:

    I’m successfully running faubackup (http://faubackup.sourceforge.net/), which works just fine for me. It does not do incremental backups of files, but instead only copies modified files and hard-links unmodified files to a previous backup. That sounds complex, but has a great advantage: The backup is a completely functional file tree and you don’t need anything special to restore or even fetch a single old file from.

    In my experience the fact that files are not backuped incrementally is not a problem, because usually big files (movies, isos, mp3s, …) don’t change a lot.

  11. UBuwu Says:

    As mentioned in one of the previous comments, sbackup http://sbackup.sourceforge.net/ does the job wonderful.

  12. WildBill Says:

    I dig backuppc (http://backuppc.sf.net). Works like a top, and it’s rsync-based. On top of that, it does single-instance backup of identical files and compresses the backup store after backing up a machine. It’s got a web UI so you can institute a backup with a click, and you can restore files via the web UI as well. Oh, and you can use it in conjunction with Knoppix for bare-metal restores. It also pings the hosts it backups… so if you’ve got a laptop and you’re away, then you come home and plug in your laptop, once the backuppc server successfully pings your laptop it’ll auto-back it up. I gave a preso on it – http://wildbill.nulldevice.net/wordpress/?p=151.

    I’m not a backuppc developer or anything, just a *very* happy user.

  13. Drew Says:

    I’m very surprised that no one has mentioned Pybackpack (http://projects.sucs.org/projects/pybackpack). It’s an easy PyGTK app using rdiff-backup (also written in python). Handles local/remote backups, incrementally and with sets. Works now and is being fairly actively developed.

  14. Sven Says:

    What sucks so badly about using rsync on local filesystems (and a USB disk as the backup medium is local) is that it is dead slow and consumes CPU like mad. I am using a script now that uses ‘cp -a -u …’ followed by ‘rsync –delete …’. That way rsync doesn’t do any copying, it just cleans up afterwards. The drawback is that this approach might temporarily need a lot of space on the target disk.

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