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Thu, 8 Mar 2007

Automated Backups – Updated!

— SjG @ 3:50 pm

[Update — fixed the link!]

Automated Backups are a good thing. Automated Backups make the little birds sing, the rainbows shine, and little fauns gambol about in beautiful green forests. When computers are backed up, the butterflies flutter, the flowers bloom, and the fruit from the trees taste just a little sweeter. But when computers are not backed up, the universe becomes angry.

An angry universe is not a good thing. An angry universe makes little birds cry. An angry universe makes Cthulhu come and visit.

So. Automated backups. I’m partial to rdiff-backup because it allows me to not only back up data, but keep previous versions available. Backing up nightly doesn’t help if you accidentally overwrite the contents of a file with something, and don’t notice for a day or two. But with rdiff-backup, you can restore the version before the error.

Unfortunately, rdiff-backup really is designed for server-to-server backups, where each end of the transaction has shell access. Enter duplicity, a related project. It’s more designed for storing backups on servers that you don’t control and/or don’t trust. It allows encryption of your backup sets, as well as supporting a wider variety of protocols (ftp, scp, s3, etc.)

So with a combination of these two scripts, you can backup pretty much any POSIX-ish server to pretty much anything that you can ftp or ssh into. Still, it’d be nice if you could:

  • Check that the backups completed successfully, and get email confirming that success or warning on a failure.
  • Configure up all of your various backups by a simple text file, rather than remembering the different command-line formats.
  • Create groups of options that can be applied to backup tasks.
  • Issue commands on the backup source and destinations before and/or after the backup (good for dumping databases into a flat file, for example, and then deleting it after it’s backed up).
  • Get email confirmation on completion of backups.
  • Have some tools to simplify the securing of the backup process.

For these reasons, I put together this backup script, which is basically a Ruby wrapper for rdiff-backup and duplicity. It’s almost entirely configured via two human-readable yaml files.

It’s flexible, reasonably simple to use, and comes without any guarantees whatsoever. Feel free to use it yourself!

DISCLAIMER: it’s as-is. Not to be used in place of a certified Cthulhu-deterrent. Use at your own risk. To quote the duplicity page: “[it] is not stable yet. It is thought to have a few bugs, but will work for normal usage, and should continue to work fine until you depend on it for your business or to protect important personal data.” — that goes for me too, only double.


3 responses to “Automated Backups – Updated!”

  1. Stuart says:

    This is what I’ve been looking for, a way to use duplicity with explanations for those unfamiliar with the command line (that’s me that is). I’ll reoprt back on success and otherwise.

  2. I started writing my own Ruby wrapper to duplicity to help manage my backups, and then stumbled on your scripts. They look good so far, but I’m unable to get them to work yet.

    Specifically, I’m getting errors:

    ERROR! Command reported error condition. Full command response: Couldn’t canonicalise: No such file or directory

    and

    duplicity.backends.BackendException: Error running ‘printf ‘cd

    I’ve installed backup-agent.rb and put it in my remote path. I’m using scp.

    Any ideas?

    Kevin

  3. SjG says:

    Not sure what’s going on. Are you able to run duplicity from the command-line successfully?

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