Keeping my data intact

Last week there was an article on ars technica about the backup tool rdiff-backup. This looked like a simple way to get automated backups implemented for both the Mac mini and the PowerBook, so I set out this weekend to get it installed and activated.

I’ve been running (ir)regular backups manually for some time on the Mac mini, but have never got any backup scheme set up for the PowerBook. This is a description of the (still manual) set up I’ve got working now.

The first thing to do was get a disk partition set up as the backup target. After a few trial and errors I succeeded with a disk that has a partition formatted as HFS+, journaled and with case preserving. It seemed that the version (1.0.4) of rdiff-backup I ended up using did not like the usual HFS+ habbit of ignoring case; all filenames with capital letters in them ended up looking quite peculiar.

As per the advice in the rdiff-backup wiki I changed the partition to not ignore permissions.

I then installed the latest stable version of rdiff-backup and was effectively ready to go.

There are some files that you would not normally back up and these are listed in an include/exclude file:

- **/Caches
- **/Movies
- **/Music
- /Network
- /Volumes
- /tmp
- **/tmp
- /dev

This set up was adequate for creating a local backup, so I ran the command:

$ rdiff-backup --include-globbing-filelist \
> ~/src/tools/rdiff-backup-filelist \
> / /Volumes/Backup/Dorado

to create a backup of the Mac mini. I ran the command as an administrative user, but not as the root user. This meant that some files could not be read and thus were not backed up. The plan here is to check the permission on the problematic files and see if any of them should have their permissions changed or if they should be excluded from the backup.

In order to run the backups of the PowerBook from the Mac mini over the wireless network I had to set up SSH as described in the rdiff-backup wiki. With this set-up it was possible to backup both computers from the stationary, and almost always on, Mac mini.

The next task is to automate the backup procedure, so I can stop worrying about not remembering to do it.