Backing Up with Keep
Keep is the second entry in my Backing Up series. It is a lightweight app that makes it simple to create and manage multiple backups. At first glance Keep's feature set looks very solid, but when trying it out I quickly discovered some limitations that really limit its potential.
I tested with version 0.3.0 and 0.4.0 on Kubuntu Edgy and 0.4.0 on Debian Etch.
Appearance and Useability
When you load Keep for the first time you will be presented with a small window and five buttons. The first three allow you to create, restore, and start a backup. The other two options are for editing a backup and viewing the log.
Creating and restoring backups are managed by an easy to use wizard. It's a good interface that should be satisfactory for most users. I'll walk through the steps farther below.
By design, users shouldn't have much difficulty with Keep. Unfortunately some problems cropped up that completely overshadow the useful interface.
My biggest complaint with Keep is its lack of network transparency. Because Keep is a KDE app I was quite surprised to find out that this feature was lacking. As a result I was only able to successful backup to local drives. Even mounting a share first returned an error. I know that it wasn't just a permission problem because I was able to write to the directory using Konqueror.
- Local Drives - Yes
- Remote Drives - No
- Full Backups - No (only the initial backup)
- Incremental Backups - Yes
- Drive Images - No
- Encryption - No
- Individual Files - No
- Folders - Yes
- Flexibility - It is possible to set an inclusion or exclusion list for a backup source. This is a new capability for version 0.4.0.
Restoring a Backup
- Complete - Yes
- Partial / Selected - No
- Earlier Version - Yes
- Automatic backups - Yes
- Can set the priority level for running a backup. I increased the niceness level so it won't interfere with other activities as much.
Creating a Backup
Step 1: Select Add directory to backup from the main menu.
Step 2: Choose the directory to be backed up. This is also the point to specify and inclusion/exclusion list if you need one.
Step 3: Pick a location for the backup. The destination directory for the backup must be empty or you will get an error.
Step 4: Decide on your backup options. These include the frequency of the backup, how long it will be kept, compression, and more. Click Finish and now you are done.
Step 5: This step is only needed if you want to immediately kick off a backup. Select Restore a backup from the main menu.
Step 6: Choose the appropriate backup from the list and click OK.
No progress is reported during a backup. Hopefully the developer will correct this oversight in the future. Without indication that the backup is underway I have to manually look in the directory to make sure it completed.
As noted previously, I was unable to get a backup started on a shared drive or a FTP site. Selecting a Samba share from the Network Folders section as a location to save the backup never finds a drive. I can manually override it by entering the smb:/ path of a known shared drive, but I get an error that I was unable to figure a way around the problem.
Restoring a Backup
Step 1: Select Restore a backup from the main menu.
Step 2: Choose the backup that you would like to restore from the list of available backups.
Step 3: Pick a directory to restore the backup to. You can also designate a custom backup directory. The default is where the files were backed up from. This is a useful option in case you want to retreive an older version without overwriting the current data.
Step 4: Select the specific version of the backup. Because it uses rdiff-backup as its underlying engine, Keep is able to save snapshots of each date a backup was made. This is a very valuable recovery feature.
Once again no progress is reported, but the restoration was completed successfully.
Keep is an interesting backup tool, but whether it is right for you will depend upon your requirements. If you require backup to a network drive then move on and keep looking. Hopefully that will be corrected in the future, but we will have to do without for now.
Keep does excel at backuping up files to the same system. This could be very useful if you have a spare hard drive or if you are a developer and constantly rev the same files. Saving daily snapshots could be very useful in the latter situation and is one of my favorite capabilities.
Personally, I tend to backup between computers to eliminate a single point of failure so Keep isn't for me. My search continues.