Saturday, 5 April 2008

Automatic Simple backups: SBackup

A colleague told me about a simple backup utility called... Simple Backup (or SBackup). With the help of Simple Backup, you can very easily do hard-drive backups (and restore the backups if needed). If you're using Ubuntu, you will find it with the help of apt-get, Synaptic or under Applications>Add/remove....

At a small office, SBackup may be suitable for doing daily, automatic PC-backups. You configure it to do incremental backups with a frequency of your own choice. You can tell SBackup to put the backups on a remote server through ssh. Notice that the connection settings are in clear text, i.e., your password for ssh-ing will be readable for anyone with access to your computer! (Thus, you should be a bit careful with how you use SBackup.)

A nice feature is that the backups are in tar.gz format, i.e., you can use standard tools to read the backed up files. You can also tell SBackup what local directories to include or exclude from the backups. Once configured, the only thing you may need to care about is that you have enough disk space on the machine that holds the backups. If you do incremental backups of a number of computers, the backups may grow quite large. (However, they will not grow infinitely large, since SBackup can take care of removing old/redundant backups.)

More info here.

Update: Due to a reboot of the target server, SBackup silently stopped doing its backups. It had to do with obsolete ssh keys, most likely. On the Ubuntu clients, the problem can fixed by removing the known_hosts file from the root home directory

sudo rm /root/.ssh/known_hosts
or by removing the same file from the user home
rm ${HOME}/.ssh/known_hosts
(It appears to work differently on different versions of Ubuntu.)

After this, we started the SBackup configuration GUI and tested the destination (you need to answer a question before it works again).

The same goes for moving the backup destination to a different server. SBackup silently stops working. You have to delete the known_hosts file, as above.


Keith said...

Thank you for this solution! Sbackup not working was driving me crazy.


Nikolaj Lindberg said...

Keith, I'm glad to hear that someone out there found this post useful :)