Scheduling Back In Time

Five years ago, in a series of posts, I outlined the difficulties that I experienced in getting Back In Time to make a daily backup of my dedicated data partition. After finding a solution to this issue (see: Getting to the root of the problem), the system worked flawlessly, creating a backup every time the system was powered up. Well, at least, it was working flawlessly until, shortly after completing a fresh installation of Linux Mint Version 18.2 (Sonya), I realized that the daily backup was no longer being produced.

Initially, I thought that the problem was simply that I had forgotten to add the bash script file to etc/cron.daily to run backintime through anacron. However, after copying this file into the cron.daily folder, the daily backup still wasn’t happening. I updated Back In Time to the latest release (Version 1.1.20) using the PPA repository on the developer’s web site, but still no joy.

Looking at the syslog file (grep cron /var/log/syslog), I could see that anacron was running on boot-up. Similarly, I could also see (grep backintime /var/log/syslog) that Back In Time started. However, this process never seemed to complete. In particular, the final entry in the relevant series of lines in syslog was:

Jul 27 09:04:00 Dell-XPS-8300 backintime (toaster/1): INFO: [qt4systrayicon] begin loop

Being unable to find a direct solution for this problem, rather than spending even more time troubleshooting, I decided to adopt a different scheduling strategy. In particular, Back In Time has a number of built-in scheduling procedures, so my plan was to use one of these to make my daily backup.

The obvious candidate was to schedule the backup to run “Every Day” at a specified time (e.g. 07:00). However, the problem with this option is that, if the computer is not running at the time specified, Back In Time will not automatically take a new snapshot at any time during that day. For example, the backup isn’t simply run later in the day should the machine be powered up after the nominal 07:00h scheduled event.

Another option is to run the backup “At every boot/reboot”. While this solves the problem of the computer being powered up after a nominal timed-backup event, it also means that multiple snapshots will be created should the machine be booted up several times in a single day. However, this is not a problem in my case. The backup is of my data partition which, typically, does not required a huge amount of storage and, in any case, Back In Time effectively makes incremental backups, so that only the files and folders that have changed between backups need disk space. And, finally, I use the “Smart remove” feature (Settings – Auto-remove) to keep just one snapshot per day so that only the most recent snapshot is retained for any given day.

So, this is now my chosen method for daily data backups – Back In Time – At every boot/reboot – Keep one snapshot per day.


Getting to the root of the problem

“Back In Time Team” team – Back In Time stable repository

Back in Time Settings

Limiting Daily Backups

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Thunderbird’s address books on different computers (and different operating systems)

Another issue relating to my switching from using POP to an IMAP mailer server was a need to “synchronize” Thunderbird’s address book(s) between my main desktop machine and my laptop computer. Now, I don’t think that one can truly synchronize locally-stored address books* on different machines going forward, but at least one can have two (or more) devices initially use files containing the same set of contacts.
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Thunderbird’s message filters

After switching my E-mail system from POP to IMAP, things seemed to working fine – until I found that messages were no longer being filtered and automatically redirected from the Inbox to a number of separate folders.
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IMAP folders

One of the reasons I stuck with POP, rather than switching to IMAP earlier, was that I maintain several quite large archive mail folders and I didn’t want these synchronized to the relatively small amount of memory in my smartphone. However, IMAP is quite happy to ignore Thunderbird’s “Local Folders” so, simply placing the archives in this area, avoids any potential storage limitations.
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Converting Thunderbird from POP to IMAP

Computers, smartphones, and tablets seem to be getting more popular around my house, and my car, and people’s pockets, and… well, you get the picture. The end result is that there is a need to access E-mail messages in a more efficient manner on the multiple devices than by using POP. Everyone tells me that IMAP is the only way to go, so it’s time to switch up my E-mail system and give IMAP a try.
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Yet Another Android File Manager

Well, it didn’t take long for AndroXplorer File Manager (see previous post) to fall by the wayside and join the pile of discarded apps. For my taste, AndroExplorer requires just too many clicks to get anywhere. So, it’s on to the next file manager app.
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Screen Overlay Detected Error on Android

Recently, when I have tried to install a new application and had to set a permission such as allowing access to the camera, a warning message has popped up indicating “Screen Overlay Detected” and wanting me to turn off the screen overlay before I could continue with the new app.
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