Best Backup Tool For Budding Networks

One thing I have been doing for many years now, decades even, is backing up and restoring data.  It’s easy to backup stuff at home, simply copy your valuable bits and bytes to an external hard drive or write them to a CD-R or DVD-R.  This makes backups easy, though a bit cumbersome, especially as hard drives and data requirements get bigger and bigger.  Think about all the digital content we have nowadays versus just a few years ago.  Movies, music, games and more that get purchased and downloaded right off the net mean more and more gigabytes to backup.

Screenshot of BackupPC software

Screenshot of BackupPC software

Still though, for saving the critical stuff like documents and pictures, CD’s and DVD’s are OK.  But what about when you have more than one computer?  With prices falling and computer technology getting more and more prevalent in the home, it’s not un-common for households to have at least two computers in the form of a desktop and laptop.  However, I am seeing more and more households with computers for mom and dad, the kids, grandparents and then some laptops on top of all that!  Whew!  Now we are getting into one major pile of work to try and back all that up.

In the commercial world where you are backing up a data center full of servers and/or cubes laden with workstations, you buy commercial software like Veritas Backup Exec or NetBackup or Arcserve, etc.  Throw your data onto tapes inside a robotic tape library and manage it all from one central console.  Now, that’s all well and good, but it’s very expensive and doesn’t exactly fit in the average home very well.

So, where does that leave people like me and I am sure many of you out there that still have several computers to backup?  We are caught in a kind of in between place.  Well, I am going to share some good stuff that I have found, and actually have been very impressed with. Continue reading

Rsync R Your Friend

Need to sync some files? Locally or remotely? How about re-thinking an old friend, rsync?

You may be like I was, and have discounted rsync for a long time due to the security risk imposed by running the “r” daemon on your servers. Guess what? You can not only use rsync to sync up local directories on the same server (this can be real handy for backups), but you can also sync from one server to another via SSH rather than the rsync daemon. This would be much like scp, only you can sync whole directory trees.

So. Let’s say you want to sync two local directories, how would you do that? Well, if we are syncing /export/datadir to /export/backupdir it would look something like this:

rsync -aruv /export/datadir/ /export/backupdir/

It’s just that easy. Now, those command line switches, what do they do? Check it out:

a = archive
r = recursive
u = skip files that are newer on the receiving end
v = verbose, tell me what's going on

There is another one that is good when syncing between two separate servers, and that is the “z” switch. This tells rsync to use compression during the file transfer thus saving bandwidth. Let’s see what the above would look like from one server to another, as if you are running the command from the server you are syncing to:

rsync -aruvhz --progress server1:/export/datadir/ /export/backupdir/

There are a couple other options there, did you notice? I have added the “h” which tells rsync to output information in human readable format (GB, MB, K, etc), and the –progress which tells rsync to report exactly that, the progress of each transfer. You can use these with local transfers too, mix and match as you see fit.

Vi reference

I created a nice little reference document for Vi and Vim.  It gives some background and history, and then goes on to explain a few things as well as provide a list of a lot of useful commands for use within Vi and/or Vim.  Vi and Vim are very powerful text editors found on any NIX platform.  Take a look at these commands and shortcuts and turn your Vi time into a powerhouse of productivity!

Veritas Volume Manager Goodness

Hi folks, it’s been a bit since I put anything new up here, life has been real busy lately.  To that end though, I have been working on stuff for the site, and I just posted something that I think is very useful.  It took awhile to put it all together, but nothing is too good for my visitors.

I have been working with Veritas Volume Manager, now called Veritas Storage Foundation lately.  I have worked with it in the past, but not as in depth as I have in recent weeks.  I decided to make a reference for myself, since I seem to get into it for a bit and then don’t touch it for awhile because it just runs.  Then I figured I would make it as comprehensive as I could, plus easy to read, pretty, etc, and then post it here for anyone and everyone that might find it useful.

I have it on the site in HTML format here, and I also have it up in the downloads section as a PDF if you wan to download a copy.  Check it out and let me know if you see anything I missed, I hope you find it useful!