Backups again - Bacula

by Juliet Kemp

Just a quick note to mention how impressed I have been with my current backup solution, Bacula (using an Overland Neo2000 tape library, which also does the job nicely). A basic setup is pretty straightforward, and after that it runs smoothly and with very little need for intervention (other than tape switching. I have yet to find software that will pull the tapes out of the fireproof box for me & put them into the tape library...).

It handles very large filesets well - I need to do a restore of nearly 1TB of data next week, & initial dry run indicates that while it takes a *long* time to build the directory tree (lots of little files in that dataset, which doesn't help), it will work OK. I understand that more recent versions are quicker (I'm running the version currently available in Debian etch, which is 1.38.11).

Smaller restores happen fast, and the restore interface is pretty usable. (I think there's a graphical interface available; I use command-line style stuff).

Support is also excellent, with an active mailing list - the developer seems to spend a lot of his time answering questions there very patiently.

Might not be worth the setup time overhead if your backup requirements are small, but definitely well worth it for anything upwards of a couple of machines.


Jeremy M. Jones
2007-06-02 01:58:35
Glad to see you review Bacula. I've been meaning to setup a good backup solution at home. I figure a couple of extra (and RAIDed) drives in the server and Bacula clients (I think it's the FD clients?) on each machine I need to backup and I'm in business. Plus, you can backup Windows boxes to a Linux server, which is nice.

As always, Juliet, I enjoy and appreciate your posts very much!

Rob Taylor
2007-06-04 14:39:03
We use it as well. It is absolutely an astoundingly nice piece of software.

The community is very active and very helpfull as well.

We were even able to find local experienced support to help with the initial setup.

Daniel Lopez
2007-06-05 04:18:44
A couple of other interesting open source solutions are Zmanda and BackupPC. In many cases, I still prefer good ol' rsync ;)
Juliet Kemp
2007-06-05 05:08:27
Jeremy: yes, it's the FD client that is the only thing you need client-side. Glad you enjoy the blog!

Daniel: I too use rsync (& for my personal stuff, as offsite backup) in some cases, but for the whole site backup (several very large servers & about 40 desktop machines), I need something a bit more flexible & automated.

Saint Aardvark
2007-06-06 06:24:20
I'm considering Bacula use at my work, but I've always taken seriously Amanda's assertion that re-using a tape (ie, putting on more than one session's dumps) is risky: you never know when the tape drive will accidentally rewind the tape and overwrite last night's dumps (

I've never seen this happen, but I've only been a sysadmin for a few years now. I'm curious to know your thoughts on this, and whether you've ever seen an accidental rewind.

Juliet Kemp
2007-06-06 07:17:43
SA: to my knowledge I've never seen this happen (although since I don't always wind up having to *use* the backups I make, I wouldn't necessarily know).

I believe Bacula has some way of keeping track of where in the tape it wants to be (since it can certainly find a given file on a tape pretty fast), so rewinding shouldn't be a problem. (i.e. it doesn't just "append from where I am now"). However, I've not actually looked into this myself so not 100% sure!

Linux Disaster Recovery
2007-06-25 21:28:36
Thanks about information on bacula, Backup and restore is one of the major issue that most of the linux system admins face, though there are many backup solutions available today which are handy for linux system admins.
Linux Disaster Recovery
2007-06-25 21:32:48
Hi, did any of you try this Linux Disaster Recovery Software
2008-02-07 10:43:49
Hi, how long is a *long* time?
I have been doing a recovery and it has been cataloging for 2 days now. It is about a 1TB svn repo (many, many small files). Could it be stuck? The progress bar is still going, and CPU levels are high.
2008-02-11 05:39:09
I too.
| JobId | Level | JobFiles | JobBytes
| 15,120 | F | 1,826,766 | 22,798,457,103

Building directory tree for JobId 15120 ... ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It's going just 6 hours....

Juliet Kemp
2008-02-12 06:43:03
I remember it taking of the order of a day or two. Possibly more; I'm afraid it was a while back now & I can't remember!