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How To Set Up Incremental Backups for Themes and Customization on Ubuntu 18.04 with Rsync

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In the world of system administration, data loss is a nightmare scenario. Therefore, having a reliable backup strategy is crucial. This article will guide you through setting up incremental backups for themes and customization on Ubuntu 18.04 using Rsync.

Quick Answer

To set up incremental backups for themes and customization on Ubuntu 18.04 with Rsync, you can use the --link-dest option to create hard links to identical files in a specified directory. This allows for efficient backups by only copying the differences between files. Automate the backup process using cron to run the rsync command at a specified interval.

Introduction

Rsync, short for remote sync, is a free and open-source tool that efficiently transfers and synchronizes files across systems by copying only the differences between source and destination files. This feature makes Rsync a perfect tool for incremental backups.

Installation of Rsync

Rsync is preinstalled on most Linux distributions. However, if it’s not present in your system, you can install it using the following command:

sudo apt-get install rsync

Understanding Rsync Command

Before diving into the setup, let’s understand the basic structure of an Rsync command:

rsync options source destination
  • Options: These are flags that tell rsync how to behave. For example, -a stands for archive mode, which preserves symbolic links, file permissions, user & group ownerships and timestamps. -z compresses data during transfer and -v provides verbose output.
  • Source: This is the file or directory that you want to backup.
  • Destination: This is the location where you want your backup to be stored.

Setting Up Incremental Backups

To set up incremental backups, we will use the --link-dest option. This option allows rsync to create hard links to files in the specified directory that are identical to files being sent. This results in an efficient incremental backup.

Let’s say we want to backup the ~/.config directory, which typically contains user-specific application configuration files, including those related to themes and customizations. We’ll backup to a directory named backup in the home directory. Here’s how you can do it:

rsync -azv --link-dest=~/backup/previous_backup ~/.config ~/backup/current_backup

This command will backup the ~/.config directory to ~/backup/current_backup, while creating hard links to files in ~/backup/previous_backup that haven’t changed since the last backup.

Automating the Backup Process

To automate the backup process, we can use cron, a job scheduler in Unix-like operating systems. We’ll create a cron job that runs the rsync command at a specified interval.

Open the crontab file using the following command:

crontab -e

This will open the crontab file in your default editor. Add the following line to schedule the backup to run daily at 2 AM:

0 2 * * * rsync -azv --link-dest=~/backup/previous_backup ~/.config ~/backup/current_backup

Save and close the file. The backup process will now run automatically at the scheduled time.

Conclusion

Setting up incremental backups for themes and customizations on Ubuntu 18.04 using rsync is a straightforward process. It involves installing rsync, understanding the rsync command, setting up incremental backups, and automating the backup process using cron. With this setup, you can ensure that your themes and customizations are safely backed up and can be restored when necessary.

What is the purpose of incremental backups?

Incremental backups allow you to only back up the changes made to files since the last backup, reducing the amount of time and storage space needed for backups.

Can I use Rsync to backup files to a remote server?

Yes, Rsync can be used to transfer files to a remote server by specifying the destination as a remote location using SSH. For example: rsync -azv --link-dest=~/backup/previous_backup ~/.config user@remote_server:/path/to/backup.

How can I restore files from the incremental backup?

To restore files from the incremental backup, you can simply copy them back from the backup directory to their original location. If you want to restore the entire backup, you can use the rsync command with the source and destination paths reversed.

Can I exclude specific files or directories from the backup?

Yes, you can exclude specific files or directories from the backup by using the --exclude option followed by the path of the file or directory you want to exclude. For example: rsync -azv --exclude='*.log' ~/.config ~/backup/current_backup will exclude all files with the .log extension from the backup.

How can I check the status of the backup process?

You can check the status of the backup process by adding the --progress option to the rsync command. This will display the progress of each file being transferred during the backup.

Can I schedule the backup to run at a specific time every day?

Yes, you can schedule the backup to run at a specific time every day using cron. Open the crontab file using crontab -e and add a line with the desired schedule and rsync command. For example, 0 2 * * * rsync -azv --link-dest=~/backup/previous_backup ~/.config ~/backup/current_backup will run the backup daily at 2 AM.

Can I store the backup on an external hard drive?

Yes, you can store the backup on an external hard drive by specifying the destination as the mount point of the external drive. For example: rsync -azv --link-dest=~/backup/previous_backup ~/.config /mnt/external_drive/backup.

Can I use Rsync to backup multiple directories?

Yes, you can use Rsync to backup multiple directories by specifying each directory as a separate source in the rsync command. For example: rsync -azv --link-dest=~/backup/previous_backup ~/.config ~/Documents ~/Pictures ~/backup/current_backup will backup the ~/.config, ~/Documents, and ~/Pictures directories to ~/backup/current_backup.

Can I restore files from a specific backup?

Yes, you can restore files from a specific backup by specifying the backup directory as the source and the destination as the location where you want to restore the files. For example: rsync -azv ~/backup/previous_backup ~/.config will restore the ~/.config directory from the previous backup.

Can I use Rsync to backup files on Windows?

Rsync is primarily designed for Unix-like systems, but there are third-party implementations available for Windows, such as Cygwin and DeltaCopy, that allow you to use Rsync for backups on Windows.

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