Thursday, August 24, 2006

Invisible, silent background backup of key files every day

I have made a little tweak to my backup strategy on my Thinkpad T42P that runs Ubuntu.

The way I see it, the bit most likely to go kaput is the hard disk so copying key files off of the hd every day is a good idea.

Now, I'm not guaranteed to be online all day so backing up to the cloud or the mother ship is not always an option. I don't have a floppy drive and even if I did, it would be too small. I have USB slots but memory sticks protrude out of them. I end up taking them out of the slot to put my machine in its bag yada yada. I have a CD-RW but I cannot dedicate that to doing backups as I use it during the day for other stuff.

Soooooo...I got a 256MB Compact Flash thingy and put it in a PCMCIA adapter. It sits completely inside the form factor of the T42P which means I can slot it in and just forget about it.

Cron now takes a backup every day of my key files to the CF. Unseen, unheard and completely hands (and thought) free. All I need to do is remember from time to time to check the log to make sure its still working as planned.

This is not a substitute for using online backup daily of course. After all, if my laptop gets stolen the CF is gone as well as the HD. But it does give me the confort of knowing that all my short-cycle backup eggs are not in the same basket.

The only fly in the ointment is this thing about CF devices having a write limit. I'm not sure how many write operations I expend in copying about a dozen files and I don't know what the magic number write limit on my card is yet.

If anybody is interested, setting up the CF on Ubuntu was just a matter of adding this to /etc/fstab:

/dev/hde1 /media/compactflash vfat defaults 0 0

The device appeared as hde1. I created /media/compactflash as a mount point. And off it went.

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