Addressing challenges associated with Linux backup

Performing data backup and recovery in a Linux environment poses some unique challenges. Brien Posey, a freelance writer and former CIO, answers some of the most common questions about Linux data backup in this Q&A. His answers are also available as an MP3 below.

Listen to the Linux backup FAQ

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What are the common pitfalls people run into when performing backups in a Linux environment?

Some of the biggest pitfalls people run into with Linux backup have to do with compatibility. For example, I've seen people buy an elaborate tape library, and there aren't any Linux drivers available. I've also seen issues when someone chooses an agent-based backup software product, and they are backing up a heterogeneous environment, and there aren't agents available for the operating systems they are trying to back up.

Are there specific tools available for Linux backup?

There are many, and BackupPC is one of the better known ones. Others include TimeVault, Clonezilla, Duplicity, Amanda, and Rsych. So, there are definitely quite a few options to choose from.

Do the major data backup software vendors offer Linux compatible products?

Pretty much every data backup software vendor supports Linux to at least some degree. For example, Symantec Corp. Veritas and CommVault both offer Linux solutions.

What about data deduplication? Are there products available that perform deduplication in a Linux environment?

There are, but data deduplication is performed to different degrees depending on what software you are using. A lot of times when vendors are talking about data deduplication today, they are talking about byte-level backups. What I've seen in the Linux environment, is data deduplication at the file-level. For example, with BackupPC, if you are backing up five servers and each server has the same version of a file, the software only backs up that file once.

Brian Posey is a freelance writer focusing on IT. He previously served as the CIO for a national healthcare company, network administrator for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox, and for some of the nation's largest insurance companies.

This was first published in August 2009

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