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Chapter 29. Maintaining a Healthy System > Performing System Backups

Performing System Backups

As much as all of us hate to do it, keeping a backup of your important applications and data is a crucial part of maintaining a Tiger system. Backups generally fall into two categories: full and incremental. A full backup is an exact duplicate of everything within your filesystem (or a branch thereof, such as /Users or /usr/local). From a full backup, you can quickly restore the state of all the backed-up files as they existed at the time the backup was made. Full backups are time-consuming (all files must be copied each time the backup is run) and cannot efficiently be used to store multiple versions of files over an extended period of time. If, for example, you want to have a copy of each day's updates to your file server for the period of a year, you would need to make 365 full copies of each of the files—this could quickly add up in terms of storage media. Full backups are usually reserved for mostly static information that can be copied and stored.

An incremental backup, on the other hand, is used to archive filesystems that aren't static. You start with a single full backup and then periodically back up the files that have changed since the full backup took place. Incremental backups can take place at multiple levels, with each level backing up only the files that have changed since the preceding level was backed up.


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