Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fixing BackInTime Snapshot Failures

Although it's really simple to write your own rsync script to do backups on GNU/Linux, I'm a big fan of BackInTime because it's a more sophisticated, snapshot-oriented backup solution (very similar to Apple's Time Machine) as opposed to the blind copy and sync that you'd typically wind up with using a one-line rsync script.

The issue is that even when running BackInTime as root there are some directories, symlinks, etc. that it can't copy or certain operations it can't perform, so you wind up with failed snapshot errors. In the past I never really dug into them and just went back to using an rsync script to sync to my Amahi server, but today I decided to spend a bit of time working through the errors since they were exacerbated a bit due to my home directory being encrypted on my new System76 Lemur UltraThin.

What makes this process easy is that BackInTime keeps excellent logs of where it's failing, and as opposed to taking the time to investigate why each of these operations was failing, I just added a few patterns and directories to my exclude list and my snapshots are succeeding now.

The specifics in your situation may vary, but in my case I added the following to be excluded:
  • *gvfs*
  • [a few symlinks that pointed to directories in my home directory itself]
  • /home/mwoodward/.config/chromium
  • /home/.ecryptfs/mwoodward/.Private
  • /home/mwoodward/.Private
  • /home/mwoodward/.gconf
  • /home/mwoodward/.pulse
With those in the exclude list the snapshots are clean and I'm happily backing things up with BackInTime again. What I need to do next is verify that these exclusions aren't causing any issues, but since all I really need is the bulk of the files in my home directory to be backed up based on the bit of poking around I did it seems to be working fine.

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