Backing up is always important, but one of the most important aspects of backing up is the storage of said backup. There are various levels of security you can give your backups; you could just keep them on the same computer in case something goes wrong with the original files, for example. Alternatively, backing up to a different system in the local network means your files are safe if there’s a hard drive or other catastrophic failure.
An offsite backup is still the safest option though, protecting against even greater threats like fire or theft. Truly, the best way to back these files up with the smallest risk of losing them is to send them to the cloud.
Large cloud storage solutions have the advantage of keeping data safe even in the unfortunate event that a data centre has gone down, which means the possiblity of losing your backed-up data is very low in this case.
In this tutorial we’ll show you how to properly back up files and certain aspects of your PC, and then show you how these can be sent to the cloud service of your choice.
Step 01 Grab luckyBackup
Install luckyBackup, a great little backing-up application that contains scheduling features, customisable backup tasks and profiles for grouping tasks. Install it from your repository; the package name is luckybackup.
Step 02 Set up profiles
Back up your important documents – we’ll assume you’re keeping them in Documents, in your home directory, but if they’re placed anywhere else then just switch out that folder for Documents. Go to Add underneath Task to begin.
Step 03 Task settings
Name the task whatever you wish so you can remember what it is, choose the Documents folder as the source and, for now, create a new folder called ‘backup’ for all the backed-up files. Keep the Type field the same. The benefit of doing the backup this way is that only new or updated files get included.
Step 04 Test task
Before we go any further, it’s best to test the task you’ve created. Click the check box for the task and it will display a triangle to let you know that you haven’t done a backup before. Click Run to perform the first backup of these files and it will let you know if there are any errors.
Step 05 First scheduling
On the main menu, click on the clock symbol next to the red x to bring up the scheduling window. Here you can select when backup profiles are performed, down to the hour, day and even month. These are done on a per-profile basis and can also be activated on a reboot.
Step 06 Extra profiles
The scheduling is performed per profile, so if you have different files you want to back up at different times then you’ll have to create separate profiles. You can group multiple tasks under one profile if you need to back up multiple locations at once by using Profile>New.
Step 07 Choose a cloud
Any cloud service will be fine for our purposes, however our main concern is space. Documents won’t take up much space at all – it’s less than you’d think – but once you get to music, video and the disc images we plan to upload later then the required space begins to increase rapidly. Choose your service wisely.
Step 08 Connecting to the cloud
Cloud services that work properly on Linux, such as Dropbox, will create a folder in the home directory for syncing files or let you choose a folder to sync. If you’re using your cloud space for other files, we suggest creating a backup folder inside the sync folder for you to work with.
Step 09 Multiple computers
One of the benefits of syncing all the files to Dropbox is that they can also be downloaded to another system. You can either do this to create a more accessible backup, or back up multiple sets of documents to the cloud. Make sure any files that might clash are kept separate.
Step 10 Quick hard drive backup
The full root system of your computer can be backed up quickly. It will save all your files and programs without needing to make a big disc image. This won’t be a complete backup as such though, as it won’t remember permissions very well, but it is better than nothing. When creating a backup task set the source as /.
Step 11 Backup location
You can’t set the location to be the original hard drive as this can cause errors when trying to copy what you’re creating. Either use a separate or external hard drive that’s large enough to contain the files or have a spare partition purely for the hard drive backup.
Step 12 Complete image backup
You won’t be able to do this within the running operating system. The best software we can suggest for this is Clonezilla, which is a live disc that runs ghosting software. It can be obtained from the Clonezilla website (clonezilla.org).
Step 13 Use Clonezilla
Write the Clonezilla ISO to disc, reboot your system and make sure you boot from disc. Follow along with the menus to select your language and resolution until you get to the first proper Clonezilla option screen – choose device-image, as we want to create an image from a device.
Step 14 Create the image
Choose local_dev so you can select a local hard drive or partition, and then select the partition or drive where you want to save the image to. Choose beginner mode, and then choose whether you want to save the entire hard drive or just partitions from the hard drive. Finally, select the partition, and then go through the menus before finally hitting Yes to start.
Step 15 Upload concerns
The resulting image will be large, easily totalling in the tens or hundreds of gigabytes depending on what exactly goes into the backup. Uploading this will take a while, and some cloud services have limits on the size of files you can backup.
It also won’t just change the differences in the image and will entirely replace it each time. We suggest doing this kind of backup less often – once every week or month depending on your needs and data allowance.
Step 16 Break down images
One method you could use to try and make uploading easier is to split it up into multiple zip files – this won’t compress the image, but it will make the files much more manageable to upload to the cloud. In Linux we can do this in the terminal by first turning it into a zip file with:
$ zip image.ISO
Step 17 Split the zip
Once the zip has been created (it may take some time), go back to the command line. Decide what size you want the chunks to be – 100MB usually works well – and then split them with the following command:
$ split -b 100M image.zip
Step 18 Bring the zip back together
It’s easier to split the files than it is to put them back together. Once you’ve downloaded all the necessary parts, you’ll need to make sure they’re all named similarly (something like image1.zip for example) and then you can bring them together with:
$ cat image* > ~/backupimage.zip
Step 19 Restore documents
Restoring your documents is extremely easy – you’ll just need to download them from the cloud backup and put them back in their original place. Services like Dropbox allow you to choose previous versions of a file, in case any newer ones are corrupted as well.
Step 20 Restore an image
Download the image and create another Clonezilla live disc or USB if you need to. Have the image attached in some way to the system and go back into Clonezilla. Again, we want to go to device-image as we will be restoring from an image.
Step 21 Choose the image
Use the options from before, being sure to choose the hard drive you wish to restore to as the destination. On the screen where you would usually hit savedisk or savepart, look for the restore disk option. Choose the image and the hard drive to restore to again and begin.
Step 22 Automation for disks
Unfortunately, there’s no way to automate the disk imaging process unless you create scripts and do it via virtualisation. However, it shouldn’t be necessary to do this kind of imaging on a regular basis. With a bit of practice and playing around with settings on everything, though, you should be able to make the backing up of documents and images an easy process that takes very little maintaining.