Backing up

Just about everybody hates backing up computers. But it’s important. With more of our information being stored digitally — even photos — it’s critical to back them up.

At home, I’ve been using rdiff-backup for years now. Very slick. It stores backups on the filesystem — they look as if you had used rsync. It also stores metadata (owner, mode, etc.) in separate files, so you don’t have to back up using root. But the neat thing is how it handles incrementals. Incremental backups will update the backup image files to the current state, and store binary diffs to the past state. So you can access the latest backup instantly, and re-generate the previous state if needed. Very nice.

I had just been backing up to a regular IDE drive. But this week, I ordered two Seagate ST3400601CB-RK external drives. The drives support both USB2 and FireWire. We will get a safe deposit box at a bank. At any given moment, one drive will be at home, and one will be safely at the bank. They’ll be rotated periodically.

At work, we’ve been using Amanda for years. It does its job well. (Except on AIX, where both dump and tar are broken in obscure, hideous ways, but that’s not Amanda’s fault.) Recently, I discovered Bacula. This looks very slick. It seems to be the direction Amanda would evolve, if it would ever evolve. We’re going to test it out soon.

And besides, who wouldn’t love a program whose slogan is “Bacula: It comes in the night and sucks the essence from your computers”?

3 thoughts on “Backing up

  1. I’ve tried both bacula and amanda, and prefer amanda. Sure bacula gives you more control over what is archived when, but it’s too much control and it’s hard to replicate the magic balancing that amanda does over a backup cycle.

  2. Hi, I’m trying to use the Seagate 400Gb ST3400601CB-RK model on Linux but can’t get it to work. I noticed that you’re using them too on Linux. Can you tell me how you prepared the drive please.

    Many thanks,


    1. I just plugged it in to Firewire and it appeared as /dev/sda. It may appear at a different place on your system; use dmesg to verify.

      From there, you can partition and/or format like normal if you wish, or just mount its existing vfat partition.

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