Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

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FenderGuy
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Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by FenderGuy » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:26 pm

Okay, guys, I just installed Linux Mint 19.2 (Cinnamon) from a DVD to my Samsung laptop. All good.

Now, what file system do I use to format external USB drives (an external HDD and 2 thumb drives) so that I can back up: 1) my system and 2) my personal data files?

Thanks, guys.

athi
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by athi » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:47 pm

Depends on your situation, just about all devices can read NTFS now so that would be best if you plan to use it with other O/S, devices. The only caveat is that Timeshift will only work with ext4, so your Timeshift media will need to be ext4 but you can backup the Timeshift snapshots on any format. FAT has file and partition limitation, eFAT is not currently supported in Mint.
Mint Mate 19.1. Main rig is HP 800G2 I5 6500 16GB ram, 120GB boot drive, 2x3TB, 1x4TB data drives. Oldest rig is Mate 18.3 on Dell D620 with 32bits core duo.

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CaptainKirksChair
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by CaptainKirksChair » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:54 pm

First off, make sure the USB drive has enough capacity. I just purchased a WD Elements 4TB USB Drive from Amazon for $100 US. You can get a WD 1TB USB drive for $50 US. I use it to backup all of my computers. It came formatted as NTFS but I changed that to exFAT so it is usable across multiple operating systems. I did not partition the drive. And I don't use backup software. I just insert the drive and copy my Home folder to a folder on the USB drive. It takes overnight but that's okay. The files are not compressed or altered in any way. And they are in a usable format from the external drive.

Now, here's the part you need to be aware of. If your external drive is GPT and not MSDOS, older Windows systems that do not use UEFI will not mount it. You can see it in the list of attached drives but you can't access it. So I booted to a Mint LiveUSB, inserted the external drive, and used Mint to copy my Windows home folder to the external drive. It's the only way it will work. If you have multiple computers to backup, and some are Windows, you may want to keep the drive at NTFS. Mint will recognize it too. If you are only going to be backing up Linux operating systems, then EXT4 will work fine too. It's your call.

FenderGuy
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by FenderGuy » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:18 pm

athi wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:47 pm
Depends on your situation, just about all devices can read NTFS now so that would be best if you plan to use it with other O/S, devices. The only caveat is that Timeshift will only work with ext4, so your Timeshift media will need to be ext4 but you can backup the Timeshift snapshots on any format. FAT has file and partition limitation, eFAT is not currently supported in Mint.
I don't use Timeshift for backups; I use a Redo Backup CD runnIng from the internal CD drive on my laptop, and I back up the files to either a USB thumb drive or an external hard drive.

I formatted the thumb drives and external hard drive in EXT4. When I try to copy files from my laptop to the external media I get an error message that the external media is not in a valid format.

FenderGuy
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by FenderGuy » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:48 pm

CaptainKirksChair wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:54 pm
you may want to keep the drive at NTFS. Mint will recognize it too. If you are only going to be backing up Linux operating systems, then EXT4 will work fine too. It's your call.
I'm wanting to create 2 backups: 1) a backup the entire hard drive, and 2) a backup of my documents.

carum carvi
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by carum carvi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:10 am

compatibility formats.png
I was asking myself that question as well a few years ago: which format should I use?

- Will you use your usb stick / external harddisc for anything system related to Linux?
For any drives which are system related to Linux or for any drive that I only use with Linux I always choose:ext4

- Do you only use small (less than 4GB) files and the data on the usb drive is not system related to Linux? Fat32 would be the ideal choice, because it will work on anything. Old computers, new computers, every sort of brand of computer.

- Do you use large files (larger than 4GB)? And do you want those files (often video) to be read by Windows and/or Mac as well? For any large data drives with large video files, I use exFAT. Because exFAT can be read and written to by LinuxMint, Windows and Mac as well. (Ext4 cant be read by Windows or Mac).

Several Linux distributions dont support exFAT yet (LinuxMint does have support though), but quite recently Microsoft announced it will incorporate the exFAT format for free in future Linux kernels. Most of the memorycards for smartphones/cameras etc are formatted as exFAT as well.

athi
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by athi » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:20 am

FenderGuy wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:18 pm

I don't use Timeshift for backups; I use a Redo Backup CD runnIng from the internal CD drive on my laptop, and I back up the files to either a USB thumb drive or an external hard drive.

I formatted the thumb drives and external hard drive in EXT4. When I try to copy files from my laptop to the external media I get an error message that the external media is not in a valid format.
What is the exact error message? Maybe a permission issue.
I'm wanting to create 2 backups: 1) a backup the entire hard drive, and 2) a backup of my documents.
1) Backup/imaging of the entire drive could take a big external drive, depending on software. Some only backup used sector, some do sector by sector, some have compression. Redo does uncompressed backup.
2) I would use uncompressed copy for the data backup, then you can access the data on any devices that support the format. For data backup, rsync and its many GUI frontend is the tool of choice, search the Software Repository. I use luckyBackup myself.
Mint Mate 19.1. Main rig is HP 800G2 I5 6500 16GB ram, 120GB boot drive, 2x3TB, 1x4TB data drives. Oldest rig is Mate 18.3 on Dell D620 with 32bits core duo.

FenderGuy
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by FenderGuy » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:32 am

carum carvi wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:10 am
compatibility formats.png

I was asking myself that question as well a few years ago: which format should I use?

- Will you use your usb stick / external harddisc for anything system related to Linux?
For any drives which are system related to Linux or for any drive that I only use with Linux I always choose:ext4

- Do you only use small (less than 4GB) files and the data on the usb drive is not system related to Linux? Fat32 would be the ideal choice, because it will work on anything. Old computers, new computers, every sort of brand of computer.

- Do you use large files (larger than 4GB)? And do you want those files (often video) to be read by Windows and/or Mac as well? For any large data drives with large video files, I use exFAT. Because exFAT can be read and written to by LinuxMint, Windows and Mac as well. (Ext4 cant be read by Windows or Mac).

Several Linux distributions dont support exFAT yet (LinuxMint does have support though), but quite recently Microsoft announced it will incorporate the exFAT format for free in future Linux kernels. Most of the memorycards for smartphones/cameras etc are formatted as exFAT as well.
I'll try EXT4 again, in the AM (getting late here in the East). Thanks.

FenderGuy
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Re: Formatting external USB media for backup purposes

Post by FenderGuy » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:43 am

athi wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:20 am
What is the exact error message? Maybe a permission issue.

1) Backup/imaging of the entire drive could take a big external drive, depending on software. Some only backup used sector, some do sector by sector, some have compression. Redo does uncompressed backup.
2) I would use uncompressed copy for the data backup, then you can access the data on any devices that support the format. For data backup, rsync and its many GUI frontend is the tool of choice, search the Software Repository. I use luckyBackup myself.
I'd prefer to use Redo Backup, since that's what I have, so I'll check out Rsync and luckyBackup.

Thank you, sir!

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