[nSLUG] Linuxfest "Backups" presentation

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Thu May 13 08:56:14 ADT 2010

On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 1:58 AM, Hatem Nassrat <hnassrat at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 9:17 PM, Jack Warkentin <jwark at eastlink.ca> wrote:
>> I would be grateful for comments on this presentation with the goal of
>> improving it, so any comments would be much appreciated. So don't be
>> bashfull, be *critical*!
> Since you wanted critical :P. I only got to slide two so far. I
> wouldn't say that hard drives fail with *absolutely* no warnings. I
> have never had a hdd fail with no warnings, its just that I always
> ignored the warnings assuming they were just weird system faults. E.g.
> copy jobs that crash and work the next time, system failing to boot
> for no apparent reason and work again, ... subtle things like that
> more or less happen every time i had a disk fail,  yet I somehow
> managed to ignore them every single time.

I agree that often there are early signs of a failing drive, but there
are also many instances where a drive seemed fine up to the point
where it broke.

I have had drives fail after external events such as lightning storms
and other power outages (even with UPS and surge protection).
Systems that have been turned off for extended periods sometimes
won't boot due to a failed drive.

The problem today is that cheap drives can store so much data that
backups become time-consuming.   The article suggests that /etc
and /home generally should be included in backups, but the key
point is that users need to organize their filesystems to maintain
key separations:

1) don't keep data with the apps -- older Windows programs
encouraged this, and may people still want to do this (and
routinely work in linux using the "root" account so they can put
data in /usr/bin!)

2) put easily replaceable files in a separate "scratch" area so they
can be left out of backups

There is a need for tools to help identify files that are candidates
for exclusion from backups, e.g., distro .iso files on systems with
good network access.    Then users could put files "where ever" and
add them to an exclusion list for the backup software.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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