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I am trying to establish valid back ups for my web server. It is a linux box on CentOS.

I have asked around and "rsync" was suggested by some of the server fault community. However, my coworker at work says that this is really only moving over the physical files and isn't really a usable "snapshot."

He suggested using "amanda" and that this did full server snapshots that are more what I am accustomed to.

I know at my company we have virtual machines that we take snapshots of and we can restore everything back to just as they were with little effort and little downtime.

Is this possible with rsync? Or would I need to create a new server and then migrate the files back and do various configurations?

I think I prefer being able to just reset everything to a point in time.

Forgive my ignorance, Back ups are something that I have never really had to worry about before.

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one word: rsnapshot. (but in fact it's just a useful script around rsync) –  Javier Jan 16 '11 at 20:59

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Amanda and rsync can both be used to do backups, but there are issues to consider with both. Amanda allows you to do a full system backup, but it requires more effort to set up, for example you will probably need a dedicated backup server with some sort of removable storage like a tape drive or library.

rsync can be used for many backup tasks, but it doesn't work so great for backing up the whole system, and it is tough to get a consistent snapshot of the whole system.

You need to determine what level of backup you need. If you just want to preserve your specific files and configuration, An rsync of selected directories on the server to another machine might be fine.

Another way to do snapshots is to use rsnapshot, which runs rsync to create snapshots on a regular interval on the local machine or a remote system.

Finally, your goal should be to use a configuration tool like puppet or cfengine to manage your systems. That way you manage your source of truth for the server separately, and you can easily rebuild or cone the machine at any time. That largely remves the need to keep backups of your webservers.

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Thanks. This seems like good information to research. I really don't have much clue about what I'm doing and am trying to hammer out what makes sense. –  Scott Jan 17 '11 at 0:55
    
Scott, please accept one of the answers here if you find one you like, and once you get 15 rep you can vote up too. Hope the info helps. –  Phil Hollenback Jan 17 '11 at 1:29
    
rsnapshot looks pretty good. –  Scott Jan 17 '11 at 20:52

I use Amanda to do webserver backups all the time but it isn't necessarily better than Rsync. A big difference is that Amanda was made to do backups and it comes with a lot of tools that make restoring easier. It won't do snapshots like VMWare does though. What your co-worker is probably referring to in Amanda is its ability to use the dump command. That is an option with Amanda but it is not a snapshot of the system. One thing to keep in mind is that if you have a database you should make sure it is in a consistent state when its data gets backed up.

If what you are really looking for is a snapshot then check out this question on using LVM to do this as a backup strategy.

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OK. thank you. I need to do back ups b/c it makes sense AND b/c I'm going to do a drupal upgrade and their is a high probability that I will break things in the process. I will research what you have given me. thanks again. –  Scott Jan 17 '11 at 0:58

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