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  • Linux live image-based backup solution!

    Posted on Ascaris Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems Linux – all distros Linux live image-based backup solution!

    This topic contains 13 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Klaas Vaak 5 months ago.

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    • #343571 Reply

      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      I’ve been looking for a Linux-based replacement for Macrium Reflect/Aomei Backupper/Acronis True Image for a while.  There are a number of programs around, but I hadn’t found one that ticks all of the boxes: The ability to back up live (in use) partitions, full image-type backups, the ability to write and restore from network locations or locally, compression of the image, encryption of the image, and incremental (or at least differential) backup ability. I’d also like to be able to do it without having to use the command line, and I don’t want it to cost a fortune (like the $500 a year cost for Acronis, who assumes that people performing Linux backups must be businesses backing up a server).

      Well, I think I have found it.  It’s called Veeam Agent for Linux Free.  It’s actually the full program, despite the name sounding like it’s just a part of something (to me at least).  It doesn’t have a full graphical interface like any of the aforementioned Windows programs, but its character-based terminal interface is wizard-driven, and doesn’t require any difficult to remember commands.  If you can use TAB, Space, the arrow keys, and Enter, you’ll do fine!  It works with local drives (including USB external drives like several that I have) and shared folders on the LAN (Linux NFS or Samba).

      I just had it back up my G3 laptop, and it created an encrypted, compressed backup image about as quickly as my previous speed champion, which was Aomei Backupper.  I was never able to evaluate the performance of Macrium Reflect, as it doesn’t do encryption in the free version.  It was fast in its unencrypted free version, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the encrypted performance would be just as good.  I tested all of the Windows backup programs with free versions I could find, and while several of the backup programs I tested were nice and fast with unencrypted volumes, they almost universally slowed to a crawl when I turned encryption on.  Aomei was the exception, until Aomei removed encryption from the list of options included with the free version.  It would still be a good value in the paid edition if I was looking for a Windows backup program, but I’m not anymore.

      Veeam is about as fast as Backupper with compressed/encrypted backup images, and it doesn’t require booting to Windows or to the rescue USB/disc to make it work.  And it’s free!  I don’t know what the licensing restrictions are on the free edition, but I get the idea from the Veeam site that enterprise customers who can pay the price Acronis asks are their target.  I’m just glad that they don’t choose to ignore the consumer sector of Linux users like Acronis does.

      Veeam does want you to log in before providing the link to their free program, and they provide the option of using existing social media logins or making one with them specifically.  I logged in with my Google ID that I keep mainly for the ability to log into Disqus and things like that (I don’t use its email or anything else, as it is Google, spying, you know the routine).

      The link provided after login that I used is for a very small .deb file (the equivalent of a Windows .msi file for Debian-based Linux distros like Ubuntu and Mint).  There are instructions for non-Ubuntu distros like Manjaro too, but I installed it into Neon, which is based on Ubuntu 18.04.

      I installed that .deb, and it seemed that nothing had happened.  I tried to start the program by typing “sudo veeam” into the console, but nothing was there.  I discovered that it had only installed the Veeam repo via that .deb, not the actual program.  Usually, adding a new repo involves copying and pasting a few lines of text into the terminal.  Doing it via a simple, easy to install, easy to remove .deb strikes me as a smart way of adding the repo without intimidating people who are not fans of the command line.  A quick double click and the repo’s added… easy!

      Once that little .deb is installed, you can refresh the list (sudo apt-get update for command line, or the reload button if you are using Synaptic Package Manager), and then have it install veeam and veeamsnap.  If you’re planning to use it with Windows networking shares (Samba), you may also need to install cifs-utils.  I had an error message pop up while I was setting up the location of my network share, and it said that cifs was not installed.  I saw several things in the Ubuntu repo that listed cifs, so I was not sure which to install.  I decided to try cifs-utils, and at the same time, I replaced the SMB name for the share with its IP address, and it worked.  I am not sure whether it was the addition of the cifs-utils package or the change to the IP address that did it, so I’m throwing that out there in case that was the fix.

      I will test the restoration next to make sure it works, but they’ve clearly put some thought into the product, so I would be surprised if it didn’t work.  Until it is proven, I will still make redundant backups with Macrium Reflect, but if it works as well as it should, I may soon have a replacement for Reflect that doesn’t require me to leave Linux to perform backups!

       

       

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.0).

      6 users thanked author for this post.
    • #343675 Reply

      JohnW
      AskWoody Plus

      I’ve always used Clonezilla for my Linux system images, but that requires taking the Linux system offline and booting into the live image utility to image the active partition.

      Anything that would enable imaging from within the running Linux OS partition like we have in Windows would be a plus!

      Please keep us informed with how the testing progresses. This looks interesting.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #343720 Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        Well, those of us who use snapshotting filesystems or LVM have been able to do that for years… technically. Just more work during the setup phase.

        Also because of the different system design, not as important as with Windows.

        (Now where did I put that one rant by a HA server design guy about recovery images not being a substitute for proper backup procedures…)

        But yes, this is useful.

        • #343727 Reply

          JohnW
          AskWoody Plus

          Well I am just a simple home desktop user running Linux, but thanks! Not a Linux Sysadmin.

           

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #344234 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          I would certainly have expected this to be the case, as I’d read that Linux had the volume snapshot ability before Windows did (which may or may not be true), but I’d have no idea how to go about it without doing some research.  All of my relatively meager experience with Linux is as a consumer-level desktop OS, since my prime motivator in moving to Linux in the first place is to avoid Windows 10 on my own PC, and the lack of a real image-type backup program that is as easy to use as any one of the many such programs in Windows was annoying.

          Until now, I’ve used Windows-based backup programs and done them from the rescue USB or the Windows installation on the drive, but that takes the PC out of commission for the time the backup is being done, so it was less than optimal.  It harkens back to the days of Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image 6, both of which (when used with Windows 9x as I was using at the time) required booting into a rescue media session to perform backups.

          So far, Veeam looks great… I’ve created the rescue USB and successfully gotten it to recognize the backup set on my Samba-based backup server (which was often difficult in the various Windows-based rescue sessions, even though the backup server itself runs Windows), but I haven’t actually performed a restore yet.  I am impressed with its speed in performing backups and ease of use despite not having a graphical interface.  Its image files are almost exactly the size of the Macrium Reflect images (as you would expect), and I’ve so far backed up my G3 to my external drive and my Swift to the backup server.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.0).

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #1597899 Reply

            Klaas Vaak
            AskWoody Lounger

            @ascaris: do you have any more to tell us about your experience with Veeam?

            1x Linux Mint 19.1 | 1x Linux antiX

            • #1608329 Reply

              Ascaris
              AskWoody_MVP

              What did you want to know?  I’ve written all I can think of to say about it, but if there is an area you’d like to know more, I might be able to help.

              Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.0).

            • #1613541 Reply

              Klaas Vaak
              AskWoody Lounger

              @ascaris: in your last comment you said:

              So far Veeam looks great …..

              and:

              … I have not done a restore yet

              Both those phrases suggest to me an ongoing evaluation. You now seem to say that the evaluation is over.

              1x Linux Mint 19.1 | 1x Linux antiX

            • #1643449 Reply

              Ascaris
              AskWoody_MVP

              I posted a follow-up in Veeam backup (agent) free for Linux passes its first test.  Testing is never truly over, but I’m satisfied with it enough now to let it become my main backup solution.

              I did find out that it has a designed-in limitation that doesn’t really need to be there, but it’s still the best I have found for Linux.  That limitation is that it does not allow the user to create more than one backup job (like a profile).  If I want to have one backup job to image all of my drives to another PC on the LAN, another just to back up my root partition to the PC on the LAN, and a third to back up everything to a removable hard disk, I can’t do that.  I have to go in and edit the parameters of the one backup job each time to change what it backs up and to where.

              Veeam seems to believe that this feature is one that would mainly be useful for servers.  The next step up from the free version is the workstation version, which comes with 10 licenses (if I remember correctly) and costs $400 per year.  Even that one does not permit more than one local backup job, though… you can make unlimited jobs that back up to the “cloud,” but only one locally.

              The server version can do any number of jobs locally and to the cloud.  I didn’t even bother to find the price… the only reason I found out what they want for the workstation one was that I was looking for a paid home version with all the features enabled, but there is no such animal.

              I posted a request for multiple jobs for the free edition on their forum, and the project manager responded and said he would bring it up with the devs.  Perhaps, with their focus on the enterprise sector, they are not really aware of what home users want.  If the intent is to make sure that the customers actually backing up servers don’t try to use a cheaper version, there has to be a better way, since the number of backup jobs a person may want has nothing to do with the intended use of the software.  In Aomei Backupper, I probably had 7 or 8 backup jobs/profiles/whatever they are called in Aomei, and I’m just a home user.

              I’m glad Veeam decided to offer a free version of their product for home users, though… none of the other backup providers have bothered, including Acronis, which keeps pestering me about upgrading to True Image 2019 for Windows, but nothing for Linux aside from their enterprise product, also based on a SaaS model costing way beyond what is reasonable for a home user. They already have the product… all they would need to do is package it for home users and sell it, but they haven’t.  I suggested that in their forum over a year ago too, but all I get is more emails asking me to buy the Windows product.

              Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.0).

              1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #1655525 Reply

              Klaas Vaak
              AskWoody Lounger

              @ascaris: thanks, I did not know about your 1st tes run report – very interesting.

              Many thanks for your comments here too.

              1x Linux Mint 19.1 | 1x Linux antiX

              1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #345715 Reply

      anonymous

      @YP

      mn-,

      When you say “snapshotting filesystems”, are you referring to Timeshift application? I have been using Timeshift for about 3 months on xubuntu; I’m reasonably happy with it. I definitely have used it for saving and restoring. While I was getting familiar with Linux, I was willing to be aggressive and try things; it definitely saved me butt!

      JohnW,

      I’ve done fair amount of testing with Clonezilla using Virtual box with xubuntu/guest. While I’ve imaged of my real system, I have not tried restoring yet. Actually, I tested out on my old XP and reasonable confident that restore should work on my 64bit Dell. Perhaps you can give me confidence that it does work.

      At some point, I really want to re-partition my disk to 2 partitions, OS and data. Before I do this, I need to test Clonezilla on a real machine. My Win7 Pro is sitting more or less idle since Jan. I do have a SSD that I bought 2-3 weeks ago. When I get up the energy, I might swap it in and install xubuntu and test out Clonzilla.

      I would greatly appreciate any experience or comments on Clonzilla.
      Thanks MN- and JohnW

      • #345732 Reply

        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        I used the Clonezilla Live version.

        Clonezilla Live runs from a live CD, based on Debian Live. You shut your system down and boot from the CD.

        Then you can image any partitions on the system to a target drive.

        I have used it for backing up a Linux hard drive install to an external USB drive. Also did several restores that worked well.

        You do need to be very familiar with Linux drive naming and paths in the Linux environment, so that you are sure that your source and target are what you expect. And definitely read the step-by-step guide on the web page!

        I have never used Clonezilla in a mixed Windows/Linux environment, or with virtual machines, or with servers, so I have no opinion on those. But it worked as advertised on a pure Linux desktop machine. 🙂

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1609500 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        When you say “snapshotting filesystems”, are you referring to Timeshift application?

        I’m not mn-, and I don’t have mn-‘s knowledge about this topic, but let me answer anyway: No, not Timeshift.

        Timeshift is an application that is a front-end for rsync or for Btrfs.  Btrfs stands for B-tree file system, and it is a snapshotting file system… Timeshift just makes doing a snapshot really easy if you are using Btrfs.  Ext4 (used on most Linux PCs) and NTFS (Windows PCs) are examples of non-snapshotting file systems.

        Rsync is not a file system, but a command-line sync utility.  You know what it does, I take it, and that’s because of what rsync is doing behind the scenes.  Rsync does the heavy lifting… Timeshift makes rsync easy to use for that particular kind of backup.

        I used the term “snapshot” when talking about the backups Timeshift makes to try to differentiate them from backups that are made by full backup programs like Veeam, but I now think that was probably confusing.  A snapshot simply means a representation of things at that exact point in time, so the term applies to what Timeshift does (with rsync), but it’s a file-based snapshot.  Imaging backup programs like Veeam, Macrium Reflect, etc., can create sector by sector (snapshot) images of the non-blank areas of the disk(s).  These programs also often have a sector by sector option, which may seem odd in context of what I just wrote, but to know why that’s there, you need to know what is meant by free or “blank” on a hard disk.

        The “blank” parts of a disk (a hard or floppy disk) are typically not blank in the sense that they are full of zeroes on a HDD, akin to a blank sheet of paper.  When a file is deleted, the OS does not go to where the file is on the disk and zero it out.  It merely “forgets” the file exists on the disk, so the space where the file used to be still contains all of the data until something overwrites it, even though the OS says that area is free.  Free, in this context, means that the area is fair game for a program to save data there.

        Because of this, it’s possible to undelete files if they haven’t been overwritten yet, but if you were to do a regular backup with a program like Macrium Reflect in the hopes of recovering deleted files later on, it would normally do a sector by sector image of the areas of the disk that were used, but it would skip the “blank” areas– including all of the deleted (but still present) files.

        That’s one reason why such programs have an option for a sector-by-sector backup.  Selecting that option will cause the program to image the blank areas just as it does the areas that are not blank.  The undeleted files would be in the backup image too.  The downside to this is that it makes the backup operation take longer and use up more space.

        This is not how it works on SSDs, though.  On SSDs, the TRIM operation will usually result in a file that is deleted being completely gone before you can even attempt to rescue it.  TRIM causes the SSD to zero out all blocks marked as unused, preparing them for future use.  A magnetic drive (hard or floppy drive) can overwrite data with more data as fast as it can write to a truly blank (zeroed) area of the disk, so there’s no performance-based reason to go through the disk and zero the areas in advance.  If any of the deleted files might be sensitive data, maybe you would want to do that, so that if a bad guy gets ahold of your computer, he can’t try to recover some of the sensitive data that may be there.

        A SSD has to erase a whole block before it can write to it, and it takes a little bit of time to do it.  Not much, but enough to where if SSDs were to erase and write on the fly the way magnetic disks do, it would slow the writes down drastically.  Instead, they use TRIM, which is a command issued by the OS (usually) to tell the SSD to reclaim the erased areas of the disk by zeroing them out, preparing them for their next use.  Keeping as much free space as possible on a SSD assists the drive’s electronics in performing housekeeping tasks like wear leveling, which attempts to spread the wear and tear over the whole flash memory array to prolong the life of the SSD.

        Zeroing areas on a hard drive takes as long as it would to write a file to that same area, so it can take  hours to zero the blank areas on a large HDD with a lot of free space.  On a SSD, TRIM happens nearly instantly.

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.0).

    • #345807 Reply

      anonymous

      @YP

      JohnW,

      Thxs for your response, my experience with Clonezilla Live are:
      – On XP single partition with xubuntu, image & restore works
      – On XP with WinXP, could not restore because boot loader was incorrect.
      – VM xubuntu one & two partition, image & restore works

      I am careful with dev names. I label my partitions meaningfully. I found command “lsblk -f” very useful; command list device, mount point, and label.

      It seems to me that restoring a single partition does not restore the boot loader, grup. The loader is restore only when the entire disk is restored. As mentioned early, I will need to set-up two partition on a real system & make sure works with Clonzilla. I’ve used Acronis & Paragon imaging software on windows; hence, Clonzilla was not too bad to use, once you accept the line interface. The hardest part for me was get the program to select sub-directory on the target/backup disk.

      Currently, I have a working backup system. It’s still work in progress with no urgency. Thanks again

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