Backups? Where?

It’s been a bit hectic, sorry for the long time between posting.


So, backups.  Backups are important, we all know that.  So how many people actually follow their own advice and back their data up?  Yeah, it’s a sad situation for desktops.  The server world is a little different, though, with literally tens, possibly hundreds of different backup utilities available.


My preferred backup tool of choice is the Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, or AMANDA for short.  AMANDA has been around since before 1997 and has evolved into a pretty decent backup system.  Initially intended for single tape-based backups, options have been added recently to allow for tape spanning and disk-based backups as well.

Getting started with AMANDA can be a bit of a chore.  The hardest part, at least for me, was getting the tape backup machine running.  Once that was out of the way, the rest of it was pretty easy.  The config can be a little overwhelming if you don’t understand the options, but there are a lot of guides on the Internet to explain it.  In fact, the “tutorial” I originally used is located here.

Once it’s up and running, you’ll receive a daily email from Amanda letting you know how the previous nights backup went.  All of the various AMANDA utilities are command-line based.  There is no official GUI at all.  Of course, this causes a lot of people to shy away from the system.  But overall, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to use.

Recovery from backup is a pretty simple process.  On the machine you’re recovering, run the amrecover program.  You then use regular filesystem commands to locate the files you want to restore and add them to the restore list.  When you’ve added all the files, issue the extract command and it will restore all of the files you’ve chosen.  It’s works quite well, I’ve had to use it once or twice…  Lemme tell ya, the first time I had to restore from backups I was sweatin bullets..  After the first one worked flawlessly, subsequent restores were completed with a much lower stress level.  It’s great to know that there are backups available in the case of an emergency.

AMANDA is a great tool for backing up servers, but what about clients?  There is a Windows client as well that runs using Cygwin, a free open-source Linux-like environment for Windows.  Instructions for setting something like this up are located in the AMANDA documentation.  I haven’t tried this, but it doesn’t look too hard.  Other client backup options include remote NFS and SAMBA shares.

Overall, AMANDA is a great backup tool that has saved me a few times.  I definitely recommend checking it out.