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I would be interested to deploy bacula as my backup solution. My drawback so far is that I haven't found how/if is possible for a client to determine what he wants to be backed up.

My understanding is that this must be defined inside Director and Client has no way to change it. (Except for contact the administrator)

Is that correct ? If yes, is there any elegant way to bypass it ?


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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Your understanding is correct.
There is really no elegant way to bypass it. Bacula clients (File Daemons) have no way of communicating a list back to the Director.

You may be able to hack up a solution based on the accepted answer in this question, but you would need some way for the end users to communicate what they want backed up (e.g. a web page that writes out files). It's not a solution I would be comfortable deploying in production personally.

Generally clients in an enterprise scenario should not be telling you what to back up - it's a recipe for disaster (John Doe tells you to back up just his desktop. A week later he's begging you to restore something from "My Documents" that he needs Super-End-of-the-Universe-Urgently. You're Mr. Bad-Backup-Guy for not having his files, even though he told you not to back them up.).

You as the backup system administrator should be telling your users what is backed up (and make sure that's a sensible list of locations), and communicate clearly that users must store files in approved locations in order for them to be backed up. (For your typical shop these days that means you back up the user's home directory - OS X and Windows are good about storing users' junk in their home folder these days).

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Depends on you definition of "elegant".

  • You could tell the director to always backup only "/for_backup" directory, and then use commands like mount --bind /home/xyz/somedir /for_backup/someplace and/or ln /home/xyz/somefile /for_backup/someplace2 or similar tricks to specify what you want to backup.
  • you could tell director to backup everything ("/"), but exclude directories and their subdirs if they contain certain file using ExcludeDirContaining directive (which use then creates at will at client side).

I prefer the later, because you backup everything EXCEPT thing you don't want/need, and if you forget something to add something, failure mode is "oh, we're using too much space on backup server" instead of "OMG I LOST MY LIFE WORK because I forget to edit config to reflect I renamed one directory!"

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