A Brief History of backups on dustpuppy

Over the past almost nine years, dustpuppy (my Linux server, originally known as bluecurve), has had many different backup schemes.  The first was to CD-RW using tar.  When it outgrew the 650MB on a CD-RW, I moved to 2GB Travan tape, still using tar.  That didn’t last long as I had only two tapes and nowhere to get more.  So then I bought a DVD-RAM drive second hand that had a special hardware buffer/compression system that kicked in only when activated using a special tape mode of cpio (the SVR6 compatibility flag, actually). Now cpio is a very old UNIX archiving tool, predating even tar by several years.  It’s not used very much anymore except in creation of initrd (Initial RamDisk) images for Linux kernels.  I switched from real cpio to afio which can write the same format (SVR6) but has more options.  Eventually, that drive bit the dust as it was already several years old when I got it and had been used heavily as a WORM recording mechanism for voicemail.  So I bought a DVD+RW when they came down in price and reverted to using tar, this time not in streaming mode (DVD+RW doesn’t like that) but in straight growisofs | cdrecord mode.  That worked very well until my /home filesystem grew from ~2GB to 26GB.  I bought an external USB hard drive and I’ve been using that since.  I use dump/restore to make GNU-format ext2fs whole filesystem dumps on a Tower of Hanoi sequence:

1C->3->2->5->4->7->6->9->8->(start over)

The first day of each month starts with level 0, which is a full dump and does not overwrite – I keep all level 0 dumps.  The level 1’s overwrite the same generation (i.e. 1A overwrites 1A, 1B overwrites 1B, etc.) so that there are three Level 1 dump files (1A, 1B, and 1C) for each month.  All other levels overwrite each time.  This is all part of dump’s native ability and is really the default GNU-blessed method of backing up filesystems.  Dump/restore were invented in BSD and quickly jumped over to AT&T, surviving into Linux with ext2fs as the spiritual successor to UFS.

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