Commercial backup products
There are several commercial backup products available for Linux.
Commercial products generally provide a convenient interface and reporting
system, whereas with tools such as
tar, you have to roll your own. The commercial
offerings are broad and offer a range of features. The biggest benefit you
will gain from using a commercial package is a pre-built strategy for
handling backups that you can just put to work. Commercial developers have
already made many of the mistakes that you are about to, and the cost of
their wisdom is cheap compared to the loss of your precious data.
Tivoli Storage Manager
Probably the best commercial backup and storage management utility available now for Linux is the Tivoli Storage Manager. Tivoli Storage Manager Server runs on several platforms, including Linux, and the client runs on many more platforms.
Essentially a Storage Manager Server is configured with the devices appropriate to back up the environment. Any system that is to participate in the backups loads a client that communicates with the server. Backups can be scheduled, performed manually from the Tivoli Storage Manager client interface, or performed remotely using a Web-based interface.
The policy-based nature of TSM means that central rules can be defined for backup behavior without having to constantly adjust a file list. Additionally, IBM Tivoli Storage Resource Manager can identify, evaluate, control, and predict the utilization of enterprise storage assets, and can detect potential problems and automatically apply self-healing adjustments. See the Tivoli Web site (see the link in the Resources section) for more details.
Figure 1. Tivoli Storage Manager menu
Backups and restores are then handled through the remote device.
Figure 2. Tivoli Storage Manager interface
Go forth and back up
The first step to having a good backup is to have a plan. Know the data that you need to preserve and what your recovery strategy needs to be. Then use the tools that best meet that strategy.
Linux comes with some useful backup tools right out of the box. The two
most common are
dump/restore. Both are capable of doing full system
backups. Using creative scripting, you can design a custom backup scheme to back up systems both locally and remotely.
However, writing your own backup scripts can be a large responsibility, especially when it is a complicated enterprise. Commercial software, such as the Tivoli Storage Manager, cuts across the learning curve and lets you take immediate control of your backups, but you may have to adjust your strategy to fit what the tools can do.