After many years away, I’ve been using Kubuntu, a version of Ubuntu which uses KDE as its desktop environment instead of GNOME. I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit; there was certainly a bit of relearning that needed to take place, but overall it’s been fun. I’ve loved using programs I’d forgotten about, or that are new since last I used KDE. It’s also given me a large number of “new” programs to write about! I realized a couple days ago that one type of program I haven’t looked at since switching to Kubuntu was a backup program. I’ve written before how I think backup programs are incredibly important, even if I can’t ever seem to get myself to use one regularly. Still, I decided to take a look at KBackup, a simple backup program for KDE. Will it change my bad habits and finally get me backing up my stuff on a regular basis? We’ll see, but it is certainly a good program.
KBackup is a lot like other backup programs you might have used. You’ll need to tell it exactly what folders and files you want it to backup, and where to save them. Doing so is pretty simple. As you can see in the screenshots, there is a file picker located in the left sidebar. From here, simply check the empty checkboxes where you see a file or folder you want to backup. Once you have done so, you’ll need to choose a target location where your backup files will be stored. Doing this is also simple; click the little folder icon to the far right and navigate to your chosen location.
At this point, you’ll probably want to save your profile. KBackup allows you to have and use multiple profiles, so you can set it to backup different locations, using different settings. There are a few different options in the profile preferences to pay attention to. The big ones in my mind are for the number of archives to save and the full backup interval. By default, KBackup saves an unlimited number of backup files and does a full backup every day. This means that every time you backup your files, every single one of them will be archived, whether they’ve been modified or not. And since the other default option is to keep an unlimited number of backups, every single one of those full backup archives will be saved.
With any backup software, your first backup will be a full backup; that’s just how it works. You tell the program to archive a particular set of folders and files, and the program saves them… all of them. From then on, however, in an ideal backup program (I’m talking about “my” ideal program), only new files and changed files will be saved. However, I realize not everyone wants that, and in fact keeping a complete listing, every time you perform a backup, regardless of changed status, could be a good idea. But do be sure to notice those settings and change them to suit your own needs.
From then on, every time you open KBackup, you’ll need to open the profile, and click the big Start Backup button. It will scan through your files, archiving all of them the first time, then according to your settings on further backups. Notice, below the Cancel Backup button, a checkbox to Force Full Backup. This is useful for times when you’ve made tons of changes, or decide you’re ready for another full backup (but it isn’t time yet according to your profile changes), or if you might be doing something a little risky, and don’t want to run the chance of losing important information.
I wasn’t able to try this out, but KBackup doesn’t only save to local discs or external hard drives. If you have a portable USB flash drive or access to an online storage location, the address can be entered and the remote storage used as well.
Of course, when it comes to backing up your files, it’s good to be able to access them in case you need to. KBackup makes this pretty easy. It doesn’t have an integrated browser like other backup utilities I’ve seen, but since the backups are stored in TAR archives (uncompressed by default), you can simply browse through them. The TAR archive keeps the same directory structure as the files on your hard drive, so it’s easy to find what you need. You can browse these archives a couple different ways. The Dolphin file manager, if you’ve set it up this way, is able to browse compressed archives as if they were folders, so simply using Dolphin works well. You can also open the archive with a program like Ark, an archive manager and the default KDE program for creating ZIP, RAR and TAR archives (along with other compression schemes). Either works well, and allow you to quickly navigate through your backed-up files.
KBackup is a nice program. It’s simple to use, and makes it easy to access all the files you want kept safe. The one thing I didn’t see was an option to perform backups at predetermined times, however Linux comes with a powerful “cron” utility which would enable similar functionality. The settings are simple, and I like the fact that KBackup supports multiple profiles, which makes it good for different types of documents or for when you have some that are more urgent and in need of more frequent archiving. It has a decent interface, and works well, and most importantly, it backs up your files!