Tip of the Trade: Bacula

Monday Jun 4th 2007 by Carla Schroder
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Network admins struggling with large cross-platform backups should give this little-known network backup solution a try.

Bacula is a sophisticated network backup program that really should be better-known. The robust and easy to use application runs on Unix-type operating systems, such as Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris. The client runs on all the major general-purpose operating systems — Linux, most Unixes, all versions of Windows and Mac OSX. It handles large loads well and stores backups on a variety of media, including tapes and hard drives. Bacula even supports tape autochangers. Network admins who need to support large cross-platform backups should give Bacula a test-drive.

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Bacula is quite agreeable to tailoring backups any way you want. It can handle intermittently connected machines like laptops, and it knows about holidays. It can span tapes or store multiple backups on a single tape. It stores backups in a MySQL or PostgreSQL database, which improves data integrity and organization, and it makes restores much easier than most tape-based backup programs. So it helps to have some database management knowledge. (Or be willing to learn — it's not that hard!)

Bacula has four components:

  • The Director daemon keeps track of all clients and files to be backed up, as well as handles communications between the clients and backup device.
  • A client agent runs on every machine to be included in the network backup.
  • A Storage daemon communicates with the backup device and reports status.

TLS/SSL encryption can be added for extra security, and it even includes a file integrity monitor. Bacula is run either from the command line or via the Gnome graphical interface. Downloads and extensive documentation are posted at Bacula.org.

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