Déjà vu – Not another backup tool?

No, it’s actually Déjà Dup that’s the backup program currently in focus. And, if you are a fan of minimal graphical user interfaces, then you have come to the right place! Launching Déjà Dup produces a small window with two large buttons – Backup and Restore – so, it’s not too difficult to figure out how the program works.

However, one also needs to take notice of the program’s menu bar. This has options for Backup, Edit and Help. In order to make use of Déjà Dup, one first has to use Edit – Preferences to set the backup location, and the files and folders to be included in the backup process, before an actual backup can be made.

The preferences dialogue box has a number of other options, such as the ability to add a list of exceptions for files or folders that are not to be included in the backup, and choices to encrypt the backup, to backup on a regular schedule (e.g. daily), and to set the time period for which backups should be retained (which includes “Forever”).

Once all of the desired options have been established, pressing the Backup button produces a dialogue box that summarizes the entire process. A second Backup button is then used to start the actual backup. Progress is indicated through a listing of the files and folders that are being copied until a “Backup Finished” message is displayed.

Déjà Dup is actually a graphical front end to duplicity, and it’s the latter utility that creates the backup, essentially as a series of Gzip (.gz) files. Initially, duplicity makes a complete backup of the source files. Subsequent backups are made as a series on incremental backups such that only the changes in the source files are copied to the target directory.

The backup series is stored chronologically in a bewildering series of volumes, manifests, and signature files in the target directory. Fortunately, these are effectively transparent to the user. Pressing the Restore button in Déjà Dup returns a “Restore from When?” dialogue box with the individual backups in the series being listed simply in the form:

Mon 05 Mar 2012 03:23:52 PM EST
Sat 11 Feb 2012 01:58:21 PM EST
etc.

Selecting the backup to be restored produces a dialogue box with options to either restore the files to their original location, or to copy them to a folder that can be specified. The restore process then continues to completion.

Installing Déjà Dup from the Ubuntu Software Centre automatically produces an entry in the Applications – System Tools menu. Running the program to create or restore a backup is just as simple as indicated above. So, this program offers a straightforward means of backing up important files. The only real downside is that recovering a single file from the backup set is not a straightforward exercise. There is no option for this built into the program, and finding a given file among the many .gz files is probably more trouble than it’s worth.

So, Déjà Dup provides a simple way to produce full backups and restores. However, if you need a more flexible solution, including individual file recovery, this probably isn’t the program for you.

References:

Déjà Dup Backup Tool
https://launchpad.net/deja-dup

duplicity
http://duplicity.nongnu.org/

Deja Dup backup tool becomes default app in Ubuntu 11.10
http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/05/deja-dup-backup-tool-proposed-for-default-in-ubuntu-11-10/

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One Response to Déjà vu – Not another backup tool?

  1. Tom Moulton says:

    On the latest Ubuntu 14.04 LTS there are menu items in the file browser (Files) to restore Previous Versions and you can restore files missing from a directory. It is mentioned in the gui you can start from the system settings but it is slightly subtle. In fact I was considering uninstalled it in favor of some other backup solution but found out about the additional features of Files

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