Posts Tagged Backup

Ignoring hidden directories in CrashPlan for Linux

By default, CrashPlan backs up everything in your home folder including all hidden directories (directories starting with a dot (.). This would include some directories your probably don’t want backed up, such as ~/.local/share/Trash (your trash) and a bunch of other hidden directories.

Fortunately CrashPlan’s file exclusion feature includes a way to specify exclusions by regular expression. Simply go to Settings > Backup and next to Filename Exclusions click the configure button.

Check the box for Regular Expression and enter this:

.*/..*

Click the plus sign, then ok, then save again.

That will exclude all the dotted directories from your backups.

Reference: CrashPlan Support – Using Regular Expressions (regex)

Have any filename exclusions that you use on your backups? Feel free to share your rationale in the comments below!

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CrashPlan backup to Samba share on Linux

For about a week now I’ve been wrestling with implementing a system where CrashPlan would backup to my network drive. I ran into a really bit problem: When you mount a network location in Gnome using the GUI (gvfs), root can’t access it. Since the CrashPlan engine runs at root, it makes the network location unusable as a backup destination.

After a while of working on different ways to solve this rather large hurdle, I came up with the idea of simply mounting the network location using smbmount (mount.cifs). After some testing and tweaking, I was able to get it successfully working and added an entry to fstab to have it mount at boot time. I chose /mnt/mynas as the mount point.

See Synology DiskStation and Samba mount permissions for my method of getting it mounted with the correct file permissions.

Once it was set to mount at boot-time, I can now open the CrashPlan client and set /mnt/mynas as a destination folder, and now I have both local and off-site backups!

Feel free to share your thoughts and/or feedback in the comments below!

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Disabling the GNOME Nautilus navigation history

Previously I wrote about how to disable your GNOME Recent Documents menu. This post covers a second GNOME history menu: That which is contained at the bottom of your ‘Go’ menu.

The part you see in the image, below the “Clear History” is the navigation history. It contains a list of recently accessed folders, removable devices, and network shares. The one thing to mention about this menu is that it’s session-based. It isn’t written to the hard drive, and when you log off it’s erased. However, if making sure this menu isn’t available at all is your concern, then read on.

You need to make changes to the file /usr/share/nautilus/ui/nautilus-navigation-window-ui.xml — make a backup of it just in case you break something! So now open the file in an editor or run the following:

sudo gedit /usr/share/nautilus/ui/nautilus-navigation-window-ui.xml

Scroll down to around line 47 and you should see the following:


Delete those three lines. Log out and then back in to see your changes. This will make the change effective for all users.

Questions, comments, and feedback on this are welcome and appreciated!

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Must-have Android apps?

I initially had my list of must-have Android apps posted in my review of my Samsung Moment, but I thought they deserved a mention apart from my awful experience with that phone.

I’ve recently updated this list to reflect my current list of must-have Android apps, rather than the old list. Quite a few of my recommendations have changed. These are recommendations for Froyo and newer. So here they are, in no particular order, and now with Market links. Note that some of these application descriptions have been taken directly from Market where I feel the author has explained it better than I could. If you have an iPhone, feel free to check out my list of must-have iPhone apps as well.

aCar
An all-in-one application to track and manage your car: maintenance, fill-ups, fuel mileage, expenses, business trips and more.

Advanced Task Killer (ATK)
Simple, easy-to-use task killer that supports automatically killing tasks as well as force-closing unwanted system tasks.

Astro File Manager
In my opinion the best free file manager / file explorer program available for Android. Easy manage files on your device and SD card. Easy to use, free, and powerful.

Autokiller Memory Optimizer
An outstanding and powerful automatic task killer with manual-kill features and additional tuning for rooted phones. Does have some advanced tuning features, so novice users may want to consider ATK above instead.

Barcode Scanner
A fun little app for using the camera to extract human-readable info from 1D and 2D barcodes. Supports many different barcode formats and recognizes codes quickly.

Barcode2file
The natural compliment to Barcode Scanner. Save your scans in a text file or send them via email with a simple touch. Supports batch scanning as well.

Battery Indicator
A free, simple, no-nonsense application to display your remaining battery as a percentage in your notification area.

Battery Widget
This widget displays the battery charge level as a percent on the home screen and offers one-touch access to the Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth power toggles

Data Counter Widget
A must-have for those who are on data-limited plans. This widget displays your cell and wifi data usage for the month (or another configurable period of time) as a home screen widget.

Dolphin Browser HD
Puts the stock browser to shame. Easy full-screen browsing with swipe access to plugins and gesture  support for quick access to your favorite websites. Supports a variety of plugins as well.

Eternal Legacy HD
If you’re a fan of the turn-based fantasy RPG’s (think Final Fantasy) you will LOVE Eternal Legacy HD. This one is NOT available on Market, but is available from Gameloft.  Check the link for actual phone compatibility.

Evernote
This is one of those apps that once you have it you’re not sure ow you got along without it. Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Since Evernote’s notes are synced to all of your devices via the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing them.

FBI Child ID
While the Android app is still in development as of  the date of this update, FBI Child ID is a must-have for anyone with a child that they are responsible for. You can store photos, identifying information, and have the comfort of having it with you whenever you have your phone. With the ability to send it to authorities with a few taps, FBI Child ID can save valuable time in the event of a lost or missing child. See the FBI’s official Child ID page for more information.

Facebook
What can I say? Facebook app. Much better with recent improvements.

Hackers Keyboard
I don’t like Swype — It lacks some of the extended characters that I use and I’m a tap-typer rather than a swipe-typer. When I do inadvertently swipe my finger across the keyboard it tends to mangle whatever I was trying to type. For me, Hackers Keyboard is better — and free!

JuiceDefender – Battery Saver
A freemium, easy-to-use application to monitor and extend the life of your phone or tablet. Features widgets that give you one-touch access to status and features.

JuicePlotter
Great app to show historical data about battery life and usage, as well as a widget to show time-to-charge and time-remaining on your battery life. Very useful, and gets more accurate over time.

LastPass
A great password manager. LastPass web site. With fast and easy access to your LastPass password vault, the LastPass mobile app is a must-have. (Note: Requires a LastPass premium subscription – $12/year)

Lookout Mobile Security
Contains an anti-virus element, phone location, and backup/restore services. Excellent service for free, and a quite reasonable paid subscription service.

Meebo IM
A multi-protocol instant messenger for Android. Supports AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo messenger protocols.

Parcels
Track FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL and more right from your handheld. Also allows you to scan barcodes before shipping to be informed on their progress to the recipient.

PayPal
Handy for sending money via PayPal while on the go.

Spare Parts Plus
This is a handy utility for editing some hidden functions of your phone or tablet device. Settings should be changed carefully. The most useful reason for this app is enabling/disabling compatibility mode.

Twitter
It’s Twitter. Do I need to say any more?

Waze
Waze uses your devices GPS to not only provide turn-by-turn navigation, but also provides crowd-sourced traffic data to other Waze users  about traffic, delays, police presence, accidents, and other road incidents. Waze allows you to report a road incident with just a few taps on the screen, and Waze works well in both portrait and landscape orientation. (Thanks Jeff T. for the recommendation!)

WeatherBug Elite
Shows up-to-date weather information, forecast, radar (supports multi-touch), and more, with configurable widgets and “follow me” support. WeatherBug Elite is nice, but they do have the free WeatherBug app available too.

WordPress
A real must-have for anyone with a WordPress.com or self-hosted WordPress blog.

Z-DeviceTest
Handy app for testing various functions and sensors on your phone.

If you’ve read this far, you might also be interested in a list of apps specifically for rooted phones, yes? Well, here they are:

AdAway
Open-source ad blocker for rooted phones.

AdFree Android
Another ad blocker for root phones. For more information and to give feedback, visit the XDA Forums.

Chainfire3D
An intermediary OpenGL graphics driver which may increase video performance on some devices. Requires: Root, 1ghz+ device, Android 2.1+. See the XDA thread for more information and a list of compatible devices.

Samba Filesharing
A Samba server for your Android phone. Allows you to access your Android phone’s SD card over your network.

Titanium Backup
EXTREMELY powerful tool. Backup ALL apps, Market links, remove bloatware & MORE! Backs up your apps to your SD card and can restore them with their data even after a hard reset, factory reset, or even a new ROM install. It’s fantastic!

Have an Android app you just can’t live without? Please let me know in the comments below!

Last update: December 7th, 2011

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How to export your Firefox bookmarks to Google Chrome

Having been frustrated by some of the recent regressions in Firefox 4, particularly those involving Flash graphs, I’ve picked up Chrome and so far couldn’t be happier.

Moving my bookmarks over wasn’t too hard either. Here’s how to do it.

In Firefox 4, click Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks (or press Ctrl-Shift-O)

Then choose Import and Backup > Export HTML…

Save that file somewhere you can find it for the next step.

Now, in Chrome, open the Bookmark Manager. You can find it by clicking the wrench icon, then Bookmark Manager.

Now choose Organize > Import Bookmarks from the Bookmark Manager and import that HTML file you just exported from Firefox.

Readers may also want to consider trying the free service Xmarks, which features automatic bookmark syncing across multiple browsers using a plug-in. Supports Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari (Mac OS).

This was done using Firefox 4.0.1 and Chromium Browser 10.0.648.205 (81283) on Ubuntu 11.04. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome and appreciated!

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Backing up your server using JungleDisk Server Edition – part 3

This is the third part in a three-part series. Make sure to read part 1 and part 2!

The one bad thing I’ve come to notice about the JungleDisk Server Edition is, over time, it tends to hog a lot of memory, even when it’s not running backups. The author at geektank.net noticed this too, and recommended it may not be a good fit for low-memory VPS configurations.

But if JungleDisk is a good fit for your needs, and the memory usage is the only issue, here’s something to try. It’s either a clever solution or an ugly workaround. Call it what you will.

What we’re going to do is create a cron job that will restart jungledisk when it is done running the backup, which will free up any potentially wasted memory.

So, we’ll start by creating a postbackup.sh script to run after your backup job. For advice on how to create and schedule this script, see my previous article, Backing up your server using JungleDisk Server Edition – part 2.

Create your postbackup.sh file with the following line:

touch /etc/jungledisk/.restartjd

Now, create the following jd-check.sh script and make it executable. It should be setuid root.

#!/bin/bash
if [ -e /etc/jungledisk/.restartjd ]
then
rm /etc/jungledisk/.restartjd && /etc/init.d/junglediskserver restart
fi

That’s about as simple as it gets, right there.

The new script should be run on a cron job that will cause it to run often enough to restart jungledisk after a backup. A suggestion would be to have it run about a half-hour to an hour after your backups are scheduled to start.

There are some security implications to where you store your temp file, what your name it, and what permissions you give it, so use your head. If you carefully read part 2, you can get a good handle on how to be mindful of the security issues.

It’s also possible to simply restart junglediskserver on a cron job, but there’s the potential you could restart it when it’s in the middle of a backup. This would cause the backup to either postpone the backup, or resume immediately, and leave stale memory allocations again, which defeats the point. What I’m aiming for here is to have it restart as quickly as possible once the update completes.

Do you have any thoughts on this approach? Know of a way that might work better? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! Thank you.

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Upgrading your Ubuntu Linux filesystem from Ext3 to Ext4

With recent Linux distributions (based on the 2.6.28 kernel) the Ext4 file system is considered stable and provides many improvements over Ext3.

Ubuntu systems running 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) had the option to format Ext4 during install time, but Ext3 was the default until 10.04 (Lucid Lynx). However, it’s possible (and fairly easy) to upgrade Ext3 to Ext4 in-place and without reformatting or reinstalling. Nice, huh?

The following guide is based heavily off the Ubuntu documentation, which some added steps and clarification. If you’re going to do this, use your head and make sure you have backups of your important data before you start, just in case. Also, don’t skip any steps, and double-check yourself along the way. A typo could ruin your day.

Zero – Before you start

Verify your kernel version by running uname -r. Make sure it is 2.6.28 or higher. If it is not, STOP. Upgrade your kernel before attempting to proceed.

Also, check that you’re currently using Ext3 — this would be pointless if you’re already running ext4 — by using the mount command. You should see something like the following:

/dev/sda1 on / type ext3

This shows ext3 as the current filesystem type.

One – Turn off any automatic updating

Go to System > Administration > Update Manager. Click Settings and set Automatic Updates to Only notify about available updates. You want to make sure that the system doesn’t start applying an update halfway through this and give you the potential worst-case of an unbootable system.

Two – Prepare to load the Ext4 driver

Ext4 is backwards compatible with Ext3, which makes this update process as easy as it is. We’ll start by telling the system to load the Ext4 driver instead of the Ext3 driver at boot. This will allow the system to boot and run normally for the steps that follow.

Edit the file /etc/fstab in your favorite text editor. gksu gedit /etc/fstab will do fine. Change any references for disks that you plan to convert from Ext3 to Ext4. Take a look at the example:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
#
#                
proc            /proc           proc    defaults        0       0
# /dev/sda1
UUID=327c1819-14e1-4b96-b9d2-d5e55e50f1ae /               ext3    defaults,errors=remount-ro,relatime 0       1
# /dev/sda5
UUID=900e39f2-ad49-42ee-a7f5-8e6807d6b35b none            swap    sw              0       0
/dev/scd0       /media/cdrom0   udf,iso9660 user,noauto     0       0

The above example shows an Ext3 filesystem on /dev/sda1. I’ll use /dev/sda1 as the file system for the rest of the guide for clarity. So, change ext3 to ext4 in the above file and save it.

Reboot. ( shutdown -r now )

Three – Update the filesystem options

After rebooting, the kernel will be using the Ext4 filesystem driver, even though your filesystem on disk is still natively ext3. That’s what you want, you’ll be making the actual changes to the filesystem soon.

Now, run the following command to make the changes to your filesystem that adds the Ext4 features:
sudo tune2fs -O extents,uninit_bg,dir_index /dev/sda1

Note: There’s no spaces after the comma-separated options. Copy/paste if you’re not sure.

This assumes /dev/sda1, like I stated above. Change it if it’s not correct for you, or if you’re doing multiple filesystems, run it for each one.

Reboot again ( shutdown -r now )

Four – Take a deep breath

Due to the changes that tune2fs made on your filesystem, when you reboot you’re going to get the message

“Errors were detected on your filesystem, press ‘F’ to fix…” or something similiar. Press F and let it do it’s thing.

You may get the following error as well (I did):

The disk drive for for /tmp is not ready yet or not present.
Continue to wait or ...

Just wait patiently. You’re waiting for the changes to finish on the currently-processing filesystem, and it’s just telling you that it’s trying to mount or access /tmp and it’s having trouble, due to the currently-running process.

After a few minutes (depending on the size of your partitions and the amount of data on them), everything will go back to normal and you’ll be able to log in again.

There’s just a few more steps.

Five – Reinstall grub

Run the following command to reinstall grub. Note that the partition number is omitted from the device path — this is intentional and correct.

sudo grub-install /dev/sda

You should get a message indicating the operation was successful.

If you are upgrading from 8.04 LTS to 10.04 LTS, you will need to install grub2 as soon as possible, as grub1 is not Ext4-aware. (Users running 9.04 are not affected by this.)

sudo apt-get install grub2

followed by

sudo update-grub

Once it’s done, no more reboots are really necessary, though you can always reboot to make sure grub actually reinstalled correctly. Files written from now on will be written with full Ext4 structures. You can also turn automatic updates back on at this point.

You can verify all the filesystem features are set by running:

sudo tune2fs -l /dev/sda | grep features

This is the list of ext4 features you should have set:
Filesystem features:      has_journal ext_attr resize_inode dir_index filetype needs_recovery extent sparse_super large_file uninit_bg
If you’re missing one or more features, go back to step three above and check that you entered the command correctly.

Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome, as always.

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Speed up Windows by disabling the “last access” time stamp

By default, Windows keeps track of the last time a file was accessed through the “last access” time stamp. If you use this time stamp for backup purposes or you make frequent use of the Windows search function base on time stamp, then you may actually have a use for it.

In other cases you can disable the update and it will speed up Windows by avoiding having to update (write) that time stamp every time a file is read.

There are a few different methods for disabling that time stamp:

Via the command line

Open an administrator-level command prompt and enter this command:

fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 1

Replace the 1 with a 0 (zero) to turn the “last access” time stamp updating back on.

Via regedit

Navigate to the following registry location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlFileSystem

Right-click the right-side panel and select New > DWORD Value. Call it NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate and give it a value of 1.

To reenable, change the value to 0 (zero) or just delete it.

A reboot is required when the value is changed.

Via a registry file

Take the code from one of the following settings and create a new file ending in a .reg extension. Double-click to make the change, and reboot to make it take effect.

Enable

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlFileSystem]
"NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate"=-

Disable:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlFileSystem]
"NtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate"=dword:00000001

Questions, comments, and feedback is appreciated, as always.

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Correctly Recognize Alps Touchpad on Dell E6510 in Linux

Laptops which use newer Alps touchpad hardware may experience some lack of functionality as a result of a regression in the kernel psmouse driver — the touchpad is detected and works as a pointing device, but only functions with basic features. Scrolling, disabling tap-to-click, off when typing, and multi-touch (on supported devices) are some of the missing functionality. This appears to be the case with E5510, E6410, M6400, and other Dell (potentially all E2) and some non-Dell models.

From Simon Dierl:

Apparently, newer ALPS touchpads use a new, undocumented and unsupported protocol. The touchpad falls back to a legacy emulation mode, resulting in faulty detections. The kernel.org bug lists some efforts to reverse-engineer the protocol and has some patches based on DELL contributions that enable ImPS/2 emulation (scrolling works). This, however, still does not allow for synaptics support (turn off when typing, horizontal scroll, etc.). Additionally, some people report problems on suspend/resume. [sic]

The best way to notice if you have a machine which is affected by this bug, is to go to System > Preferences > Mouse and look for a Touchpad tab. If it’s absent, you are probably affected by this bug.

Another way to see if you are affected by this bug is to run lsinput and look for something like the following:

/dev/input/event9
bustype : BUS_I8042
vendor  : 0x2
product : 0x1
version : 0
name    : "PS/2 Generic Mouse"
phys    : "isa0060/serio1/input0"
bits ev : EV_SYN EV_KEY EV_REL

The above output shows the touchpad being identified and driven by the PS/2 driver.

This bug has been entered into Launchpad as bug #606238 and has its roots in Kernel bug #14660. Since it’s a mainline kernel bug, it’s likely to affect every Linux distribution. So far, it’s still a work-in-progress and there’s not been an accepted patch submitted to the Linux kernel team. There’s a discussion on ubuntuforums.org that this is a regression, and this was working in older kernel versions.

The below is based on a patch from cmg238 which, at the very least, causes the kernel to correctly recognize the device as a touchpad and enable some missing functionality. I have made adjustments to the instructions for clarity and explanation.

Download kernel source (to /usr/src):

sudo apt-get build-dep --no-install-recommends linux-image-$(uname -r)
apt-get source linux-image-$(uname -r)

(Note: in Ubuntu Precise 12.04, do the following instead, based on this LaunchPad comment)

sudo apt-get build-dep --no-install-recommends linux-image-$(uname -r)
sudo git clone git://github.com/bgamari/linux.git
cd linux
sudo git checkout origin/alps
sudo cp /boot/config-$(uname -r) .config

Also note that on Ubuntu Precise 12.04, you will be asked a bunch of additional questions at make-time. Accept the defaults, unless you have a reason to do otherwise.

Read about how to “undo” an apt-get build-dep and uninstall previously installed packages here.

Patch drivers/input/mouse/alps.c by locating alps_model_info and adding the additional line below, as follows:

static const struct alps_model_info alps_model_data[] = {
	{ { 0x73, 0x02, 0x64 }, 0xcf, 0xcf, ALPS_PASS | ALPS_DUALPOINT | ALPS_PS2_INTERLEAVED }, /* Dell Latitude E6510 */

Compile psmouse.ko module

cd src/drivers/input/mouse
make -C /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build M=`pwd` psmouse.ko

(On Ubuntu Precise 12.04, use the following instead:)

cd /usr/src/linux/drivers/input/mouse
make -C /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build M=`pwd` psmouse.ko

The following steps will cause you to lose mouse functionality until the modprobe psmouse statement. Be prepared. Also, You may want to backup your existing /lib/modules/(kernel version)/kernel/drivers/input/mouse/psmouse.ko before doing this!

rmmod psmouse
cp psmouse.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/input/mouse/
modprobe psmouse

The last thing to mention is if you update your kernel you will receive the distributed psmouse.ko module. If the kernel does not include a fix for this bug you will need to follow the directions in this post again to recompile the above patch back into the kernel.

Since this is a mainline kernel issue, I would ask that any reader who is able to, please visit the links within this post and contribute where ever you can to help in getting this resolved. You are welcome and encouraged to share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below as well.

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Backing up your server using JungleDisk Server Edition – part 2

In part 1, I told you how to set up JungleDisk backup for your Linux server. In this part 2, I’ll tell you how to automatically have it dump and backup your MySQL databases (correctly)!

There are security implications if this permissions are not set correctly on the files, as you’re storing your MySQL password in the script, and you’re going to have complete database dumps sitting on your hard drive. However, I will attempt to explain as clearly as possible my solution, and I’m not responsible if it doesn’t work for you.

So, start out by deciding where you want your database-dumping script to run from. A few good example spots are /root (root users home directory), and /etc/jungledisk (with the configuration files). I’ve called my backup script prebackup.sh. You’ll understand the name further below, but I’m going to use that name the rest of the way through.

So create your prebackup.sh script as root, and set it to mode 700.

touch prebackup.sh && chmod 0700 prebackup.sh

This makes sure that root is the only user who can read, write, or execute it.

Now, using your favorite text editor, you can use the following sample script:

#!/bin/bash
date=`date -I`
dir=/var/backups
file=sqlbackup-$date.sql
touch $dir/$file &&
chmod 600 $dir/$file &&
mysqldump --all-databases -p'__MySQLPassword__' >> $dir/$file
find $dir -ctime +7 -delete

Danny pointed out that creating gzipped MySQL dumps, as I had in my original script, is discouraged as it defeats the data de-dup feature of jungledisk. The above script has been changed from the original to make uncompressed dumps. Thanks, Danny!

The last line, with the find statement, is responsible for the cleanup of the directory. It will delete any file which is older than 7 days. If you want more or less time, simply change +7 to your desired number of days (keeping the + sign).

Warning: There’s very little (read: none) sanity-checking in this script. Replace __MySQLPassword__ with your root MySQL password.

Jay pointed out that there will likely be issues with handling special characters in the SQL password. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to post them in the comments below. 

After saving, you should have a 183-byte (give or take) file with 0700 mode:

root@ve:/etc/jungledisk# ls -l prebackup.sh
-rwx------ 1 root root 183 Mar 24 17:08 prebackup.sh

You should make sure that the directory in $dir is owned by user and group root and mode 0700. This will make sure that noone else has access to your dumped databases. Now that you have your script, it’s time to automate it. You could schedule a cron job to run the script, but it’s easier to have JungleDisk run it for you at the start of every backup job.

Start your management-side program, login, and go to your server’s backup configuration. Under Backup Options, check Enable Pre and Post Backup Scripts. Now, click Configure, and in the Pre-Backup Script, enter the full path and filename of your newly created script, i.e. /etc/jungledisk/prebackup.sh.

That’s it!

Now, on your assigned schedule, the server engine will run your database dumping script, and start your backup job. Of course, make sure whatever directory you’re dumping your databases to is included in your backup set.

The last thing to note is this script is amazingly light; it doesn’t delete any old databases and it doesn’t do much else. You’re free to modify it, and I would greatly appreciate any feedback on your modifications.

Comments are welcome, as always.

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