Automate data backup at the command line

Rotation Keeps Data Under Control

The rotation principle helps you keep the number of backups manageable in line with your needs. You can use the configuration file to define intervals at which backups are created and specify how many backups must be retained for each interval. The retain parameter in the /etc/rsnapshot.conf file uses time parameters such as daily or hourly followed by a number to configure both.

For example, daily retain 5 means that a daily backup launches, and the last five daily backups should be kept. In further lines, additional intervals can be defined in the same way, each with its own number of backups to be retained, making rsnapshot very flexible in terms of use.

After completing the configuration, launch a first test run by entering the following command:

rsnapshot -v <Interval>

Use the Interval parameter to specify the defined interval in the configuration file (i.e., hourly or daily). You do not have to specify source and target directories, because rsnapshot takes this information from the configuration file.

Because rsnapshot does not store its backups in archives or its own formats, the data is directly accessible and can be easily copied back for recovery. After a successful test run, you can set up the required cron jobs.

Conclusions

The backup solutions explored here are all reliable and stable. They are suitable for backing up both local systems and servers. However, if you want to outsource your backup archives into the cloud, most programs will not be appropriate because of their lack of encryption support. In a public cloud, you will not want to store your backups without encryption.

Additionally, some candidates have poor to simply catastrophic documentation. In part, the existing description does not list function parameters or sample applications, and the man pages are terse 10-liners. Consequently, developers should not expect their programs to be widely accepted by users whose time and patience are limited.

These backup solutions, most of which are developed for Unix-style operating systems, also exhibit some design weaknesses, in that they may not always work in heterogeneous environments. For example, hard links cannot be used on all platforms or with all filesystems. For a tool like rsnapshot, this factor limits the applications to Linux and related systems.

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