[Wolves] backing up methods

Adam Sweet adam at adamsweet.org
Fri May 8 10:18:57 UTC 2009

John Rose wrote:
> Kevan,
> I don't intend to use the usb drive with Windows: even if Id id I would
> use the extfs plugin on a Windows PC. At first, I formatted the usb
> drive as ext3, but I ran into permissions problems re copying files
> (using cp) from /home to it. This seemed to be due to gconf-editor
> system/storage options. So I reformatted it as FAT32. I'll try again
> reformatting it as ext2.

Ext3 is Ext2 with added journalling, so that if the power goes out then
your machine can work what was happening at the time the power went and
roll back to the last consistent state. In general, this will mean
losing any files which were partially written at the time of the power
out. The permission structure will be the same under ext2 and 3, so you
will need to get it right. I never had any problems backing up and
restoring files to and from an ext3 USB disk, so you should be fine
moving the files around provided they are owned by the same user and
group IDs on each device.

If your user was the first real user (ie not the root user) added to the
system during installation you would be assigned uid and gid 500. If you
copy your files to the USB disk, reinstall your machine and this time
your own user is the second real user added to system you will end up
with uid and groupid 501, at that point you would hit permission
problems because the files are owned by the user with uid and gid 500.
In a worst case scenario, you should just be able to chown them to which
ever user you want using sudo and you should be fine. That said, if
something weird is going on with HAL/gvfs then you might get the
problems you describe. Not sure how to help you there, but you could
statically mount the disk the old fashioned way with mount.

FAT32 is horrible and won't preserve any file permissions, not really
what you want when restoring your files, use ext2/3 if you can.


> Regards,
> John
> 07894 211434
> 2009/5/8 Kevanf1 <kevanf1 at gmail.com <mailto:kevanf1 at gmail.com>>
>     2009/5/8 John Rose <john.aaron.rose at googlemail.com
>     <mailto:john.aaron.rose at googlemail.com>>:
>     > The disk used on my laptop is approximately 40GB. I want to back
>     it up to a
>     > usb 1TB drive, formatted as FAT32 (which also contains films as
>     they're too
>     > big for my laptop's disk). As I understand it, the max file size
>     on a FAT32
>     > device is 4GB.  I don't see any option in gzip to split large
>     resultant gzip
>     > files. The best option seems to me to be to use Partimage, which
>     allows
>     > resultant split files.
>     >
>     > So my thoughts are:
>     > to backup the laptop disk partition (only one partition n the
>     disk) to the
>     > usb drive monthly, using th split files option,
>     > to backup the /home directory to the usb drive monthly and occasional
>     > incremental using Simple Backup,
>     > possibly to separate the /home directory into a separate partition.
>     >
>     > Is the above the best way to go?
>     >
>     > Regards,
>     > John
>     > 07894 211434
>     >
>     Hi John.  Now, I'll state right away I have not used this system that
>     I'm about to describe.
>     Are you using FAT32 because you need to use the 1TB drive with
>     Windows?  If so, you have another option that will allow bigger file
>     sizes than 4gb.  I believe you can use ext2 as the filesystem with a
>     plug in for Windows so that it can read it.  I don't know what the
>     file size limit is for ext2 but I'm sure it's a lot bigger than 4gb.
>     Would this help?  FAT32 is also very wasteful of space so you'd
>     utilise that drive far more efficiently.
>     --
>     ==============================================
>     Kevan Farmer
>     Linux user #373362
>     Staffordshire
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