Backing up data with mintBackup

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Do-It-Yourself Canning

The clever mintBackup not only backs up your files, it also lists your currently installed programs.

Fairly hidden away in the Linux Mint start menu, under Other with the name Backup Tool , you'll find the useful mintBackup [1] program. This tool might provide only a limited number of functions, but it's easy to use, backs up your complete package list, and helps with distribution updates.

To start mintBackup, you need to enter the administrator (for Ubuntu-based Mint) or root password (for Linux Mint Debian Edition). The window in Figure 1 then appears.

Figure 1: The mintBackup main menu is well organized, and all functions are easily recognizable.

To back up your personal documents, just click Backup files then choose the source location and the destination subdirectory for the files. Usually, mintBackup copies the contents of the source directory into the destination location. It's a good idea to have the Destination on an external medium. The root folder that appears by default is actually the /root directory – keep in mind that you started mintBackup with root privileges.

mintBackup doesn't synchronize both directories; it just copies the files. That means if you backed up your photo collection in the Destination directory and deleted an image in Source , you'll still find a copy in Destination even after another backup.

Getting Started

Before you start the backup, expand the Advanced options section of the Backup Tool dialog (Figure 2). So you remember what and when you backed something up, enter a Description . Unfortunately, mintBackup ignores this description completely from that point on and doesn't even refer to it when restoring.

Figure 2: The advanced option lets you Preserve structure of the subdirectories when copying from source to destination. With Checksum mismatch, mintBackup overwrites files only if their contents are different.

You can also have mintBackup package the files in an archive. In Output , you need to specify the archive format. You should also check again which filesystem the Destination uses. For example, FAT32, which you can still find on USB sticks and a few external hard drives, can only handle file sizes of up to 4GB.

The latest mintBackup version 2.0.7 obtained at press time unfortunately ignores these limitations – a rather meaningless error message appears at the end of the backup. If your archive file is larger than 4GB, it will probably be corrupt or have missing files, so you might want to copy file-by-file or check beforehand to ensure that the filesystem can handle larger chunks of data.

Control Authority

If you select Preserve structure in the Output drop-down, mintBackup copies the files instead of creating an archive. If the Destination directory already includes a file by the same name, mintBackup overwrites it – provided you set the correct value for Overwrite .

If Overwrite is set to Checksum mismatch , mintBackup overwrites the file only if its content is different (i.e., the checksums do not match up). Be extra careful with the Modification time mismatch option: mintBackup overwrites the target file even if it's more recent than the copied one. The relevant factor is that the modification times aren't the same.

By default, mintBackup checks to see whether the copy succeeded. If you don't want it to do this, just remove the checkmark from the Confirm integrity option. The file permissions and timestamps are also preserved by default, but you can deactivate both functions by removing the checkmarks next to Preserve permissions and Preserve timestamps , respectively. File permissions only can be preserved either by moving the files into an archive or if the destination filesystem supports them. File permissions for FAT32 and NTFS filesystems are not preserved.

Within directories, mintBackup can follow all symbolic links and back up the files they point to. To set this option, mark the Follow symlinks checkbox. Depending on where the links point to, backing them up can possibly backfire – if you have a symlink pointing to the root directory on a remote server, for example, you might find mintBackup trying to back up entire systems.

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