Although Ubuntu Linux is known for being a very stable operating system, it can’t protect your files against a failing hard drive or other components that can corrupt your files. Therefore it is always a good idea to regularly create backups. There are many types of backup software, and many possible backup strategies which can be implemented on Ubuntu using free and open source software, so how do you pick the best one?
XFS is a journaled filesystem originally developed by Silicon Graphics in 1993; it was released under the GPL license in the year 2000 and ported to the Linux kernel in 2001. Due to its high scalability and performances, XFS became the default filesystem in recent versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its clones.
Making a clone of your Linux system is a great way to make a complete backup. This type of backup would preserve all your system and personal files, as well as any customizations and settings that you have applied to your operating system over time (assuming everything is on one hard drive). Cloning and restoring a Linux system is relatively easy, since Linux will not encounter errors if you clone it onto different hardware – at worst, you may have a few hiccups, such as the need to uninstall and install necessary drivers.
Dconf is the low-level configuration system used by the GNOME desktop environment. It is basically a database, where the various configuration are stored as keys together with their values. The keys in the database can be inspected, changed, or dumped with the dconf utility or by using the dconf-editor graphical tool.
Having a reliable backup of our GPG (Gnu Privacy Guard) secret key is not optional: the key represents our identity, and loosing it could potentially be a disaster. Creating a backup of our keys and sub-keys is quite a simple thing to do using gpg, and the resulting files can be easily backed up on one or more devices. Electronic devices such USB drives or hard disks, however, tend to fail, and usually in the most inappropriate times; therefore as an extreme resort, we may want to print our keys to paper.
Linux-based operating systems, if well configured, are really stable; however, since bad things can always happen, it is a good idea to regularly create backups. As we saw in previous articles, there are many types of backup, and many possible backup strategies which can be implemented on Linux, using free and open source software. In this article we focus on Timeshift, an application which allows us to create incremental backups of our Linux system. The tool is similar to the Apple Time Machine, and can work as a frontend for rsync or use the BTRFS filesystem snapshot feature under the hood.
Déjà Dup is a free an open source program we can use to easily create incremental data backups on Linux. The program is basically a graphical frontend for Duplicity; its goal is to hide complexity, be simple and easy to use. Backups created with Déjà Dup can be encrypted and stored locally and remotely, even using storage space provided by services like Google Drive.
Borg is a very useful application we can use to create deduplicating backups on Linux. Free and open source software, it is, for the most part, written in Python and supports data compression and encryption. Thanks to the data de-duplication feature, only data which actually changes is archived, and this let us optimize both disk space and execution time. Borg is really easy to install, since it is packaged and included in the repositories of the most used Linux distributions.
Tar (Tape ARchiver) is one the most useful utilities in the toolbox of every Linux system administrator out there. With tar we can create archives which can be used for various purposes: to package applications source code, for example, or to create and store data backups.
Although the cpio archiving utility is nowadays used less than other archiving tools like tar, it is still good to know how it works, since it is still used, for example, to create initramfs images on Linux and for rpm packages, which are used mainly in the Red Hat family of distributions.