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Guide to rsnapshot and incremental backups on Linux

30/12/2015 Comments off

1. Introduction

rsnapshot is a backup tool written in Perl that utilizes rsync as its back-end. rsnapshot allows users to create customized incremental backup solutions. This article will discuss the following: the benefits of an incremental backup solution, rsnapshot’s installation, its configuration, and usage examples.

2. Back-it up!

I was recently discussing with a colleague the benefits of backing up your data. My colleague was telling me how one of her customers had recently lost a rather lengthy article that they had been working on. I decided that this may be a good chance to experiment with my netbook and rsnapshot. For this tutorial, I’ll assume you have have 2 pieces of hardware: your host computer, and your destination equipment. I’ll be using an external hard drive for the majority of this post. However, I will briefly cover usage for backing up files over a LAN.

Backing up your data should not be the question to ask but rather how should I backup my stuff? What’s the best way? Well there are many different backup pathways you can take, including block level (dd, partimage), partition level (RAID and all its variations), file level (rsyncand its children applications). I’ll discuss two types of backups in the context of file-based backups.

Normal backups, or full backups, are self explanatory. Normal backups are one way of backing up ALL your files every time you perform a backup. One issue with utilizing a multiple normal backup scheme is that a normal backup takes up a considerable amount of space. For example, if you perform a full backup of a 250gig hard drive at 20% capacity, everyday for just one week (assuming that the amount of data does not fluctuate) will mean that you already have used 350gigs for only one week’s worth of backups. As you can see, that is not feasible in the long run. The other method that I prefer is the incremental backup method. An incremental backup consists of one full backup and then performing additional backups. These additional backups will only backup files that  have changed since the last backup. Instead of backing up your entire hard drive, only the specific files that have changed since the last backup are backed up. As you can probably imagine this is a much more efficient process. One tool that does this on *nix is rsnapshot.

3. What is rsnapshot?

rsnapshot, as mentioned earlier, is an incremental backup utility. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a seven day rotation backup scheme using rsnapshot. Essentially, rsnapshot will create 1 full backup and then subsequent backups will backup only files that have changed. The true power of rsnapshot is its ability to utilize hard-links between each backup. Each backup will appear to be a full backup. In reality each new backup consists of newly created or updated files. rsnapshot can be used over a LAN and can also be ran from cron. In this tutorial, I’ll show both usage examples.

4. Installation

Installation of rsnapshot is pretty straightforward, simply run the following command:

On Debian (or Ubuntu):

apt-get install rsnapshot

On Fedora:

yum install rsnapshot

On ArchLinux:

pacman -S rsnapshot

Now let’s configure rsnapshot.

Lire la suite…