For heavy computer users, nothing is as horrifying as the idea of a complete hard drive meltdown. All the documents, files, music, videos… gone in an instant. Sure, some of your files might be able to be recovered, but likely not all of them. So a solid working solution is a must. To that end, I’ve been trying out a few backup solutions for Linux over the past couple days, and I have to say, the first one I tried out, called Deja Dup, couldn’t be much simpler.
When you start up Deja Dup, you’ll see two huge buttons. One is labeled Restore, the other Backup. Doesn’t get any more obvious than that! To use Deja Dup, you’ll need to first tell it which folders you would like backed up, as well as which folders to ignore. For instance, you might want your home folder (with all your main folders and documents) backed up, but the Desktop folder ignored. This can easily be set up in Deja Dup’s preferences.
Deja Dup is able to backup your files to another spot on your hard drive, which is handy if you’re worried about accidentally deleting something, but not all that helpful if the ultimate concern is a hard drive crash. So I’d recommend saving your backup files to an external hard drive at the least. For users comfortable with backing up to the Web, Deja Dup also offers Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). Just enter in the appropriate information as well as what folder you want your backups saved to, and Deja Dup does the rest.
The first time you backup your selected folder, be prepared for a lengthy wait, especially if you keep a lot of documents. This is because Deja Dup (as every incremental backup system does), makes a copy of everything in your target folders. The next backup, and the backup after that, however, will be much quicker, as Deja Dup only takes notice of files that have changed, and writes those changes to disk.
If you do have a crash and need to recover your documents, simply open up Deja Dup. If the entire hard drive crashed, meaning you had to reinstall the operating and Deja Dup itself, simply point Deja Dup to the directory you’d previously selected for your backup files. Now, click the Restore button and you’ll be shown a list of all the backups previously taken. Likely you’ll want the most recent one (so only the data changed between it and the crash will be lost), but you may want to go back before that if you think the data may be corrupted. Deja Dup will now ask you where you want the restored data replaced. You have the option to put it back where it originally was, or if doing so could create problems, simply back up everything to a new location. Deja Dup will now restore ALL the files you’d backed up.
If you just want to back up a single file, Deja Dup has an option for that, although it’s not within the main Deja Dup interface. From Nautilus (the GNOME file browser), right click on a file you want to revert. Maybe you accidentally deleted important information from a file and inadvertently saved, or maybe the file has been corrupted. But if a particular file has been backed up, you’ll see a Revert To Previous Version option in the contextual menu. Clicking through to this again gives you a list of all backups. The difference is that choosing one will only restore the file you clicked on, and not everything.
If a file is completely missing (accidentally erased), Deja Dup can restore it as well. Doing the mass restore (of every file), will obviously restore it, but if you remember the exact name, you can use Deja Dup from the commandline (see the Deja Dup help files for exact syntax), and you can even restore multiple files at once.
All in all, Deja Dup is really handy. I love the Nautilus integration, and the ability to choose to restore a single file or everything all at once is nice. It would be a good feature (something similar to what Back In Time, the next backup utility I’ll take a look at), to be able to browse through files, but at the moment you can’t. Still, for easy of use and utter simplicity, it’s pretty hard to beat Deja Dup.