Back up files in Linux to avoid losing important data


Losing files and data, especially precious holiday photos and music downloads, can be a traumatic experience. Like other operating systems, Linux has tools that allow you to back up and restore files when the hard drive or some other component fails.

Simple Backup
This is a simple open source backup software that is easy to use and does its job well. To download and install the software, go to Synaptic Package Manager (System > Administration), search for sbackup and mark the software for installation. Then, click Apply to install the package.

Once installation is completed, launch Simple Backup Config, which can be found under System > Administration. You will then see a range of backup options available to you. In the General tab, choose the recommended settings if you wish to backup user files in the /home, /etc, /usr/local and /var directories on a periodic basic.

You can specify how often you want to perform backups in the Time tab, whether hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or a designated interval. You can also specify the exact time of the day to perform a backup. Note that the recommended backup settings in Simple Backup do not include multimedia files, temporary files and files larger than 100MB. Also,, it performs only incremental backups, in which only new files and newer versions of files that have been created since the last backup are archived.

If you wish to back up files outside the user directories, choose Custom backup settings in the General tab. Then, in the Include and Exclude tabs, specify the folders that you want to include or exclude during backup. Finally in the Destination tab, choose a folder to store your backup files. To restore your archived files, go to System > Administration > Simple Backup Restore, choose the backup folder and click Restore.

You can also restore files using command line. For example, the following command will restore the /home/username folder in the 2010-05-11_01 backup archive to the /home/username/old directory: sudo srestore.py/var/backup/2010-05-11_01/home/username/home/username/old.

Grsync
This application includes more advanced options, including data compression and validation of archives. You can install the Grsync package from Synaptic Package Manager. Once the package is installed, run it from Application > System Tools.

The first thing you will notice about Grsync is that allows you to create various backup sessions which are essentially profiles for backing up folders to different directories. For example, you can have one profile for backing up office documents to a portable hard drive and another for backing up multimedia files to a home network drive.

In the Basic options tab, you can check various options to preserve the properties of files, such as modification times, file owner and access permissions. In the Advanced options tab, you can compress files, perform integrity checks on archives or choose to update only files that have changed since the last backup.

Grsync also lets you run backup simulations using your chosen options before you execute a backup operation. This allows you to verify your archives with the chosen options before the actual backup.