Posted by: reformedmusings | May 27, 2009

Backing up in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Linux

I’ve been looking for a good backup program in Ubuntu Linux for a while. When I was using Kubuntu, I tried Keep, but it kept crashing. I’ve been using Krusader‘s excellent Synchronize Directories function ever since. It works great, but required a lot of repeated actions each time. Then I found this post and a recommendation for Synkron. Looks like paydirt!

My backup setup is pretty simple. First line of defense is the RAID 1 setup. If one hard drive fails, the other keeps on truckin’ with identical contents. Second line of defense is a separate, identical hard drive to which the data from the RAID array is also backed up regularly. I essentially clone the RAID source directories on the backup disk, which is also boots to Ubuntu just in case. This cloning is the chore of Krusader now. Lastly, I have an external hard drive for the most critical data. But all this doesn’t mean much if I don’t mirror the backups regularly.

Synkron can be downloaded from Pete Deremer’s PPA directly. Or, you can add Deremer’s to your sources.list file as indicated at his PPA. I chose the latter so that I could easily keep Synkron up to date.


Synkron allows you to create a tab for each directory set you wish to backup. Above I’ve created a number for directories that I regularly sync. I named each tab appropriately using the text box  just under the tabs themselves.


Here I selected the Advanced checkbox to make the full bottom panel appear. I set Synkron to not create backup files and to clone the source directory at the target. This way, old files will be deleted from the target, new ones copied to it, and earlier target versions overwritten. That’s exactly what I want. When done, the two directories will be identical to the source.

It’s always best to run a simulation before potentially klobbering your file system. Synkron includes an Analyze button to do exactly that. Clicking on Analyze produces a list of files and their fates if executed for real:


Note that on the right side, it lists the disposition of the files in both directories. In this case, some files match so their status is “OK”. Others on the target are older versions and so show as “obsolete”. These will be replaced on the target when the cloning starts.

When all is set up correctly, you can run all the syncs with one command from the File menu:


The cloning proceeded pretty quickly (large iso files take a while to copy) and produced exactly the result I wished to achieve. Very nice.

That’s the beauty of the system. It’s visual, so you easily pick and choose what you want to do. You can run Analyze to ensure the result would be what you wanted. Then you can run File -> Sync all to backup everything that you’ve setup. The configuration is saved when exiting, so you only have to set it up once for regular backups.

Notice the Scheduler button on the top icon bar. You can schedule Synkron to run at your convenience so that you won’t forget to backup regularly.

I haven’t explored all of Synkron’s features yet, but I’m very happy with the program. It’s simple to use and yet flexible enough to tailor the tasks to my desires. Synkron will be my backup program for Ubuntu Linux.


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