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.

References:

Getting to the root of the problem
https://linuxnorth.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/getting-to-the-root-of-the-problem/

“Back In Time Team” team – Back In Time stable repository
https://launchpad.net/~bit-team/+archive/ubuntu/stable

Back in Time Settings
http://backintime.readthedocs.io/en/latest/settings.html

Limiting Daily Backups
https://linuxnorth.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/limiting-daily-backups/

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