Backups - best options

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ud6

Backups - best options

Post by ud6 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am

Just had a problem with Timeshift (it filled my disk and though I deleted timestamps, the space continued to be occupied on my system - even when not in trash or anywhere I could see.. so I decided just quicker to backup my data and reinstall). This made me think of the continuing question of best way to back up. My view (so far) is this:

1. start with an OS and Desktop Environment which needs very little user alteration to get it how you need it. Reason: a fresh install is often the best way to fix a broken system if you are not sure the real cause. Even if you use timeshift, it will make your system operable again but it doesn't mean that you have removed the conditions to make it vulnerable to another crash. A fresh install (and update after install) much more likely to be stable, especially since a fresh install with update would get rid of problems like latent virus etc. This also has other benefits, such as being quicker and you being used to the system when you want to install a new version (since upgrade is more stable with fresh reinstall).

2. If doing (1) keep note of the software you install for your system (ideally from sources in software manager)

3. Ensure that all you user data/files/folders are in easily accessible locations (or are copied into a folder for update). This includes templates, scripts, configuration alterations. If you downloaded iso's to install eg opera and WPS (not on software manager) you can put the ISOs in this folder too. Purpose: This will enable easy reinstall (though need to check for updated versions).

4. I have never used a separate partition for home folder, and have always been able to access my data after a crash with a bootable USB (either of linux mint or puppy linux). Thus I always keep a copy of a bootable linux version wherever I have linux installed (if I need a file instantly, I can still get it).

5. Of course a backup of your DATA is useful on an external device an/or on the cloud (backup on your own hard-disk is a bit pointless if computer stolen or severely damaged or demagnetised etc). Also, even if you are using timeshift as 'restore' in windows, to get your system stable again, it is alot of disk-space (unless using BTRFS) for less benefit than a reinstall.. of course if you absolutely need to do many tweaks to your system, well maybe you want it.


Thus, made me reflect the Linux distribution choice and desktop is quite important as useful to have a USB or ISO we can use to get quickly back to work if the worse should happen. This was written in a bit of a rush, so hope it makes sense. What are your thoughts?

PS. most of my major crashes/data losses within any OS have been during backups (ironic I know), or trying to mess too much with the system, and not through something intrinsic to linux.

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Re: Backups - best options

Post by JerryF » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:05 am

Lots of food for thought!
ud6 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am
Just had a problem with Timeshift (it filled my disk and though I deleted timestamps, the space continued to be occupied on my system - even when not in trash or anywhere I could see...
Check to see which version you have of Timeshift. The most current is 18.9 if you have the PPA set up.
ud6 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am
1. start with an OS and Desktop Environment which needs very little user alteration to get it how you need it. Reason: a fresh install is often the best way to fix a broken system if you are not sure the real cause. Even if you use timeshift, it will make your system operable again but it doesn't mean that you have removed the conditions to make it vulnerable to another crash. A fresh install (and update after install) much more likely to be stable, especially since a fresh install with update would get rid of problems like latent virus etc. This also has other benefits, such as being quicker and you being used to the system when you want to install a new version (since upgrade is more stable with fresh reinstall).
How true! I've done that a couple of times. A fresh install is sometimes the only option to fix a really broken system.
ud6 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am
2. If doing (1) keep note of the software you install for your system (ideally from sources in software manager)
The one good thing about the program Aptik is that it'll create a list of the software that's installed on your system. The one thing I wish I had done is kept track of tweaks I've done. I'm toying with the idea of upgrading from 18.3 to 19. I've got several files that I've edited/tweaked and don't remember which ones they are.
ud6 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am
3. Ensure that all you user data/files/folders are in easily accessible locations (or are copied into a folder for update). This includes templates, scripts, configuration alterations. If you downloaded iso's to install eg opera and WPS (not on software manager) you can put the ISOs in this folder too. Purpose: This will enable easy reinstall (though need to check for updated versions).
Good point.
ud6 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am
4. I have never used a separate partition for home folder, and have always been able to access my data after a crash with a bootable USB (either of linux mint or puppy linux). Thus I always keep a copy of a bootable linux version wherever I have linux installed (if I need a file instantly, I can still get it).
I'm also thinking that I might have one partition for Mint instead of the / and /home partitions. My disk is MBR and I don't like logical partitions, so when I update, I'm not going to install 19's root partition over my 18.3. I'm going to install it separately and have dual boot for a while.

Having a bootable USB of Mint is great. I have a full installation on one of my 64 GB USB flash drives. Convenient when you need to do something quick.
ud6 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am
5. Of course a backup of your DATA is useful on an external device an/or on the cloud (backup on your own hard-disk is a bit pointless if computer stolen or severely damaged or demagnetised etc). Also, even if you are using timeshift as 'restore' in windows, to get your system stable again, it is alot of disk-space (unless using BTRFS) for less benefit than a reinstall.. of course if you absolutely need to do many tweaks to your system, well maybe you want it.
As always, yes---backup, backup, backup! Best thing I bought was a 1 TB USB hard drive (which I have partitioned into different file systems)
IF your problem has been solved, please edit your original post and add [SOLVED] to the beginning of the Subject Line. It helps other members.

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Re: Backups - best options

Post by Valsodar » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:27 am

I don't trust integrated software such as Timeshift (or similar stuff when I used to use Dumbows). The only way I know I'll have a fully operational system is Partclone (part of Clonezilla). Z6 compressed the OS takes 1.9GB and I can store it wherever I want. Unpacks in under 2 minutes with all of my programs and settings.

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Re: Backups - best options

Post by trytip » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:38 am

never had an issue with Timeshift and i use it to completely restore my mint19 after deleting/formatting the root partition and trying out a new distro. i also use Mint 18.3 XFCE live usb to restore my Arch Linux when it breaks with no issues.
I don't have Timeshift work for me, i work with Timeshift.

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Re: Backups - best options

Post by phd21 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:28 pm

Hi ud6,

I just read your post and the good replies to it. Here are my thoughts on this as well.

it is very important for people and businesses to backup their computer systems. There are various options for doing this.

"Timeshift" is an excellent "snapshot" type application, but it does not work well for people with multiple operating systems installed because there is no user configurable destination folders, and it can take up a lot of space per snapshot depending on your system, mine takes 30+gb or more per snapshot, and it takes a long time to run as long or longer than backing up your entire hard drive using a disk image application. If you use the BTRFS file system, then using snapshots is wonderful like the Timeshift-BTRFS app, then it is very quick, and does not use much space. But, there are pros and cons to using the BTRFS file system, it is difficult to recover from a boot problem with BTRFS because Grub or Grub2 and its update routines do not automatically recognize and configure BTRFS partitions, or at least not in my systems, even the superb Clonezilla Live disc imaging application has not worked for me cloning multiple drive partitions where one or more partitions are using the BTRFS file system where it will boot correctly; I am still testing this though. There are also people who claim that BTRFS is not good for SSDrives (solid state drives), but I have read pros and cons about that as well. I personally really like the BTRFS file system, but until all the other supporting operating system packages also support it well like Grub2 bootloader, etc... I cannot recommend it.

As for my recommendations for backing up computer systems, here they are:

* Use two USB external drives and alternate them when backing up in case one fails or you have a power outage during a backup, then you will still have the other backup drive. Replace them every 5 years or sooner unless they have a warranty claiming they will last longer.

1.) Use an external USB hard drive and a bootable disc image application like Clonezilla Live before and after installing Linux Mint and installing the applications you want. Then, every month or even every week and certainly before any major upgrades or installing any applications with system-wide ramifications. I create a "backup_images" folder on my external drives to store all my drive and partition image backups.

2.) Use a file synchronization application (FreeFileSync, LuckyBackup, etc...) for fast and frequent backups which basically copies anything new and changed that you specify to an external drive like Documents, data, music, videos, pictures, downloads, whatever you tell it (like your entire "home" folder if you want). This also has the advantage of not being compressed so that you can easily access your important files and folders. This can take a while to run the first time, but afterward, it only backs up new and changed files and folders so is much faster than a system backup. I create backup folders for my sync applications and the various operating systems I use, like for Linux Mint KDE 18.3, I created a "LM183kde" folder, for Cinnamon (LM183Cin), etc...

3.) Use a program like the superb "Aptik" to backup your Linux Mint customizations and all installed applications. You can also use this to backup your Home folder. Use this after installing Linux Mint, all the applications you want, and after customizing the desktop the way you want. Run Aptik again after installing a lot of new software or after major updates. I also create an Aptik backup folder on my external drives for these backups.

4.) Use a free or paid for Internet cloud storage provider which when running their client software will automatically backup important files and folders. This is very fast for most smaller backups like documents and multimedia stuff. This would not be fast for huge backups like your complete Linux Mint system where gigabytes of data need to be backed up.

5.) DVD and or Blu-Ray discs are still the best option for semi-permanent (regular discs 10+ years) and permanent (m-disc 1,000 years) backups of important files and folders and they cannot be erased accidentally or on purpose like hard drives and USB drives can. DVD/Blu-Ray discs will last much longer than hard drives, USB drives, etc...


Hope this helps ...
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Re: Backups - best options

Post by all41 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:08 pm

phd21 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:28 pm

* Use two USB external drives and alternate them when backing up
Stellar suggestion--I will be incorporating that it in my backup strategy as well. Thanks
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Re: Backups - best options

Post by phd21 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:46 pm

HI all41,

You are welcome...
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Re: Backups - best options

Post by MintBean » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:50 pm

It's possible you're seeing a bug in Timeshift, but it's also possible you're misunderstanding how it works. It's quite possible (and correct) that you could delete a very large backup folder and only reclaim a small amount of disc space - or even none. This is because Timeshift uses hard links. If the file is identical to the version of a file existing in another backup they will only keep one copy of the data behind the scenes, and conversely deleting all but one copy of the file will not return any disc space.

Personally I swear by Timeshift. Easy, quick and saved me headaches twice already.

ud6

Re: Backups - best options

Post by ud6 » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:40 am

Thanks for all the really fantastic posts from everyone. I shall certainly try Aptik and possibly partclone.

Also..
MintBean wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:50 pm
It's possible you're seeing a bug in Timeshift, but it's also possible you're misunderstanding how it works. It's quite possible (and correct) that you could delete a very large backup folder and only reclaim a small amount of disc space - or even none. This is because Timeshift uses hard links. If the file is identical to the version of a file existing in another backup they will only keep one copy of the data behind the scenes, and conversely deleting all but one copy of the file will not return any disc space.

Personally I swear by Timeshift. Easy, quick and saved me headaches twice already.
I deleted all the versions and the whole timeshift folder in the end, and emptied trash, and still there. Anyway, Finished the reinstall and system leaner (and no data loss). I guess one benefit is I run pretty much the same system at work and home (even though data on each is different and the way things organised on panel different), so easy to copy scripts or anything I may have missed outside of the home folder - basically I have a working 'backup' of the system :lol:

I know someone else reported a similar problem within this forum, but I didn't want to dwell too much, I think fundamentally doing a backup on the same computer is far less useful than using an external drive (and of course with an external drive, easy to format the whole thing - so no problem in the long run).

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Re: Backups - best options

Post by AndyMH » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:58 am

Starting point - you can't have too many backups.

I use both timeshift and backintime and have not had any problems, but have only had to use them in anger a couple of times. The advantages for me are that they are file level and automatic (have a 1TB HDD permanently installed in the laptop purely for backup).

If you don't like the available utilities then write your own scripts using rsync. This is what I did when I first came to mint, but then subsequently 'discovered' timeshift and backintime.

I also have a separate 1TB usb drive. This has redo installed (similar to clonezilla, nicer GUI) and I use this infrequently to take partition images.
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Re: Backups - best options

Post by Flemur » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:52 pm

ud6 wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:18 am
Just had a problem with Timeshift (
...
PS. most of my major crashes/data losses within any OS have been during backups (ironic I know),
What are your thoughts?
-- Don't use timeshift. It's too complicated: there are too many issues mentioned in this forum...e.g what you just mentioned (two different problems?)

-- Backup data files and the OS with (g)rsync. Or backup and restore with "cp -ax". I've never had any data loss or crashes because of backups or restores.

-- Get a list of installed packages from apt or synaptic if you really need to reinstall (or upgrade).
Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] if/when it is solved!
Your data and OS are backed up....right?
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Re: Backups - best options

Post by bjmh46 » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:59 am

Valsodar wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:27 am
I don't trust integrated software such as Timeshift (or similar stuff when I used to use Dumbows). The only way I know I'll have a fully operational system is Partclone (part of Clonezilla). Z6 compressed the OS takes 1.9GB and I can store it wherever I want. Unpacks in under 2 minutes with all of my programs and settings.
Timeshift was one of the first things I removed from mint 19, Clonezilla all the way. I keep data on a separate partition so my boot partition (incl Home) can be imaged in less than 2 minutes on a modern processor--just over 3 minutes on a fast core2 duo. Been imaging drives for backup since ghost on a floppy days. Best way to learn an os is to be confident of your backup method, so that you can experiment (aka living dangerously).

Regards
Bob

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