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There are numerous backup utilities available–free of cost
and commercial–and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. One free tool that’s
worthy of mentioning is called rdiff-backup. This backup utility performs full
backups, but it also saves changed files so that you have a fully up-to-date
backup and retain a history of changed files.

For remote administration, rdiff-backup works similar to
rsync, which means you can use it to securely perform remote backups over ssh.
It also preserves all attributes, including device files, hard links, and permissions.

In order to use rdiff-backup, you need to download and compile both the
rdiff-backup utility and librsync
. This is easily completed by using the
traditional “configure; make; make install” for librsync and the
following for rdiff-backup:

# python build
# python install

Once you have rdiff-backup installed, be sure to read the
rdiff-backup manpage to learn about the various options. In it’s simplest form,
you can use it as a personal backup tool for your home directory. Run the
following command:

$ rdiff-backup --print-statistics /home/user /backup/home/user

This will make a mirror backup of the /home/user directory
in the /backup/home/user directory. The –print-statistics option tells
rdiff-backup to provide an overview of what happened, otherwise it runs

The rdiff-backup utility is perfect for backing up
directories that change often, such as /home or /etc. Since rdiff-backup stores
changed files, it can restore the contents of any directory back to a previous
state; which is invaluable if you make a lot of changes to configuration files
or accidentally delete files that you later require.

To download or find out more information about rdiff-backup, visit the nongnu
Web site.