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Now How to do a Nightly Backup?

I'd like to do a nightly backup from one hard drive to another. For years, I've used psync to do this, but it tends to leave empty folders on the destination disk where applications used to be.

It was as simple as this:
/usr/local/bin/psync -d -q / /Volumes/DiskTwo

Resource forks were copied and, if I booted to DiskTwo first thing in the morning, I couldn't tell the difference. It created a complete and bootable backup. The few times I've accidentally deleted a file I needed, I would be able to go to the backup to retrieve it, but I've otherwise never needed the backup.

With Tiger, I'd like to reinvestigate how I do my backups. I don't want to copy 200 GB of data nightly, so something incremental would be good. I'd like to run it in my cron shell script(s), and it probably shouldn't take four hours (though the first time I run it to a wiped second hard drive, it may). I'd like something without a UI (i.e. a CLI tool) so that I don't have to worry about disruptions or funny settings (i.e. no Carbon Copy Cloner launched via cron and "managed" with some goofy AppleScripts).

Any ideas? How do you back up nightly?

15 Responses to "Now How to do a Nightly Backup?"

  1. rsync on tiger with the -E flag to preserve resource forks and Mac meta data may meet your needs.

  2. I'm guessing this might not quite meet your needs/desires...

    I partitioned my Lacie five ways.

    (1) Bootable backup, done through SilverKeeper monthly. My disaster recovery fallback.

    (2/3) Synched backups using Synnchronize! X Plus. Backups done at least weekly, more often if I want absolute assurance of not losing something.

    I'll typically swap which partition I back up to intelligently. By that I mean I try to have an "older" backup in case if I need to recover something. I'll back up my Documents and Music this way.

    This is a nice app because you can keep a set up backup runs, and it clearly tells you what it will sync up, giving you the option to NOT delete something from the backup. Fast app too. No it is not an incremental backup, but if I want to archive something I just move it to another folder on my Lacie.

    (4) Applications/Gold code. Bacckups done as necessary.

    I always purchase everything, even shareware. It's a trust thing for me. So any important emails I'll save in PDF and copy over with the software. Any updates (NeoOffice/J being the biggest) I'll also keep the latest along with the immediate prior one. These I just copy over, using AFP. Alwayss nice to have this to rebuild a box.

    As for Gold code, ditto. As I see it, I'm backed up 4 ways... bootable, two synched, and this drive.

    (5) Scratch drive. Always nice to have, always nice to have.

    My PB is my production machine and iBook my development machine. Server is a dual G5 with the Lacie tethered to it. Wireless setup using AFP.

    Again, this isn't incremental, but with my setup I don't require nor desire unattended backups - well, except for the bootable one. That one I'll just cable up the Lacie directly to my PB and walk away.

    One last thing about Synchronicity! X Plus. I have had occassions where something went haywire with the network. It knew exactly where things stopped, recovered perfectly, and nothing got corrupted. Great little app!

    Okay, one MORE thing too. I can't seem to setup that app to sync up my iPhotos. Other photos/files elsewhere, yes. But iPhoto loved to copy over twice as many files as it reported, and subsequent syncs copied over everything! But again, my needs/desires don't really need this sort of thing enough.

  3. I have a three disk system:

    1. Startup

    2. Mirror (Bootable)

    3. Archives

    I use Synchronize Pro X to, each night, mirror my Startup drive to my (bootable) mirror. I then use SyncPro's "Archive" feature to put a copy of any deleted or replaced file from Mirror into a date-stamped new folder on Archives. (SyncPro is configured to maintain 1 GB of free space on Archives, and will eventually start deleting old files when adding new ones.)

    In this system, I maintain a bootable mirror of my startup drive, and maintain a running archive of deleted and changed files. Since my Archive drive is 120GB, I presently have almost a year's worth of archives.

  4. Use rsync, and also use the --link-dest flag. This way, you can actually keep a couple of backups while only using the space of one, thanks to the magic of one of the few useful uses of hard links that I know of. See also.

  5. Another option (which will work on Panther as well) is to get and use Carbon Copy Cloner. It's basically a GUI for psync.

    Install CCC, select the source and target volumes, hit preferences and select "Synchronize source to target" as well as "Deleete items not on source". Press the lock icon (assuming this is being done from an Admin-type account), enter password. The "Scheduler" icon now becomes active; press it and set when you want to do things.

  6. David, Matt (and others): I don't want a GUI application. I want a CLI application. Thanks.

  7. Understood. That's why I prefaced my long comment with - "This may not fit you....".

    That said, I never understood the mentality that demands a command line when a GUI works just as well. Gotta be a male thing I guess! ROFL....

  8. It's not a man thing, it's a practicality thing. It has to do with being able to easily run things via cron jobs and shell scripts, as I already said.

  9. The script I mentioned before is meant to be run from cron. It creates a compressed (pax), as opposed to a live filesystem, backup. It is configurable as to whether it creates incremental or full backups, and if incremental is chosen, it makes an incremental backup based on the last time it backed up a filesystem.

    You were right before - I was thinking of rsync, not psync. I forget why I chose pax over psync, but there you have it. I'll email the script soon; you can look at its inline documentation to decide whether it will work for you.

  10. Erik, no offense intended. I just came home from YET ANOTHER Cleveland Indians loss annd maybe I was ornery. Everyone has their needs/desiires for bakups. There are pros annd cons to each. Apologies if my crappy attempt at gender humor fell upon deaf ears.... hope you find what you need!

  11. I don't think rsync is gonna cut it as a nightly backup tool. The thing crashes every time I try to run it: About 500 lines of this came out before rsync quit: sync(1556) malloc: *** error: can't allocate region...

  12. I use Chronosync. I've tried the others: rsync, Deja Vu, Synchronize X, the free one from LaCie (I don't recall the name) and a few others, but I find that Chronosync is the most reliable. I use their scheduler to do a backup every night to a server volume. My server is a Linux box with a 120G mirrored RAID drive which I mount via NFS. It takes longer than backing up to a local drive, but it's more convenient and the RAID device gives some measure of safety.

  13. regarding the GUI that you do not need, and Carbon Copy Cloner in particular.... MMmm, isn't CCC actually broken under Tiger, according to its author?

  14. Yes, CCC is broken under Tiger. It isn't possible to authenticate. You can only cancel the authenticate sheet - you can't accept either by clicking or hitting return.

  15. Eric, did you find a solution for this? I'm looking at the same thing and just want to run an incremental nightly through the cli. Ditto is great, but no incrementals there.