[nSLUG] Backups: dealing with large, growing photo collections

Jack Warkentin jwark at eastlink.ca
Wed Mar 31 15:52:57 ADT 2010

Hi Ben

It's interesting that you should introduce this topic at this time, 
since I have been struggling with setting up my own *improved* backup 
system myself now for about 9 months - improved, that is, over what I 
have been doing in the past.

One of the things I came across is something called Box Backup, which 
backs up files to online, ie disk, media. See

http://www.boxbackup.org/   and

It is available on Debian testing as boxbackup-server   and 

I have it installed (both client and server) on my desktop system but 
have not had time to determine how well it is working. But I am thinking 
that the bbackupquery list command, with appropriate options, could be 
used to determine which files have not changed in a long time. With 
appropriate filtering, it might be possible to determine which, say, 
digital photos had not been modified for some time so that they would be 
good candidates for archiving to DVD.

I plan on getting box backup going on my netbook and demonstrating it at 
the Linuxfest.



Ben Armstrong wrote:
> On 03/30/2010 09:20 AM, Richard Bonner wrote:
>> ***   I can't believe that so many don't seem to bother with backups.
>> With the low cost of floppies and flashdrives - even used zip drives,
>> there is no excuse except for laziness, as I see it.
> You've got to be kidding.  OK, I won't disagree that backups are a good 
> thing, but as my 1 terabyte drive fills up, you would counsel me to use 
> such small media?  Even the largest of these, flash drives, would be 
> prohibitively expensive at that size.
> My backups have been broken for some weeks, so I'm crossing my fingers 
> that my relatively new drive will not kick it before I get it resolved.  
> I have healthy supply of DVDs and have trimmed my backups down to just 
> essentials: people's home dirs minus the easily identifiable 
> large/transient stuff that could be re-downloaded should it ever be 
> lost.  The problem is, I still haven't dealt with the issue of regularly 
> archiving off the large photo collections each user has from their 
> digital cameras, while still making it possible for them to make edits 
> as they see fit.
> I'm pondering whether a unionfs would help here.  I could build a 
> unionfs on top of already-archived material (as the read-only layer) 
> with a read-write layer on top.  In my regular system-wide backups, I 
> need only backup the read-write layer.  At some point, I would want to 
> re-archive, with the new archived disks containing any updated files, 
> and then re-build the union with the newly archived material forming the 
> new read-only layer.  The trick would be to identify and throw out any 
> disks in the archive that have directories that have changed ...
> Hmm. Sounds like too much complexity to me.  Would probably be easier 
> just to tell users "I'm sorry, once your material is archived, you can 
> no longer edit it. You can make copies of files and edit them, but you 
> just can't edit the originals."  That is a bit of a sacrifice in the 
> users' freedom, though, for the sake of easing administration.  I would 
> like to avoid this if I can.
> Does anyone here successfully use a backup strategy that fits these needs?
> Ben
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Jack Warkentin, phone 902-404-0457, email jwark at eastlink.ca
39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6

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