I backup at the end of each and every day that my computer has been used. You should too.
I prefer backups that move copies of my files onto the backup media in the same tree structures as the sources files were in, and copies them as plain files. This means they are easily accessible whenever and where ever I mount the backup media. If I want to copy some of my files on a different computer I can connect the backup drive to it and copy the files over using the OS. I don’t have to install the backup software on that other computer in order to perform a selective restore. After all, the other computer might be running a different OS, and have no access to the backup software that created the backup.
You can instruct most backup software to create backup ‘volumes’ where the backup is actually a catalog file (or a set of such files). A catalog file is a single file holding many of your backed up files in a compressed format within it. They may or may not be encrypted. There is a need and a purpose for this type of backup as well but for me, for my personal use, a simpler approach is best.
On Windows I used to use the excellent (and free) Cobian Backup. Amongst its many options were the ones that would make it perform the way I wanted my backups to be made, and it never failed me. So for me, it was perfect.
That covered the data. I also used to use the excellent (but not free) Acronis True Image. This was one of the few packages I used that wasn’t freeware or open source. It allowed me to take snapshots of my entire hard disk. In case of catastrophe I could restore the entire platter in one step. I would then restore my most recent data backup and I’d be back to where I had been before the disaster. It hauled my ass out of the fire on more than on occasion.
Making the effort to create the periodic images took time and a degree self-discipline, and restoring from them could take anything up to an hour on my system. Because my PC is pretty fast I can re-install Ubuntu in about 20 minutes, so I’m not planning on making images of my hard disk. If the worst comes to the worst I’ll format it, re-install Ubuntu and simply start again. It’s faster than re-imaging. There are some perfectly good Linux based equivalents of Acronis, such as Clonezilla, that would allow me to image the whole hard disk for disaster recovery, but I don’t think they would save me any time when it came to the crunch.
Of course, once I’d restored Ubuntu I would have to install any software I use that isn’t part of the base install, but even taking that into account I think imaging my machine is a thing of the past.
So all I had to do was find a backup application on Ubuntu that I liked, and that backed up the way I wanted. I’ve settled on the bizarrely named luckyBackup. That’s a lower case l at the start of the name. I must admit to feeling a little unsettled about using a backup program with the word lucky in its title, but it has been great. It is sufficiently flexible to allow me to set it up the way I want to use it, and it runs along at a great rate of knots.
The first backup obviously took some time, because everything had to be backed up. But subsequent backups only copy files that have changed or been created since the last backup, and the backups are over in the blink of an eye. You can install luckyBackup using the Ubuntu Software Center.
The luckyBackup application is is actually a front end to the rsync command.
To see the instructions for using rsync directly, open a terminal window and type:
I’m a command prompt man at heart, but just have a read through that and you’ll see why a simplified GUI front-end is sometimes a good idea.