28 July 2013

Backups! Everyone knows about backup importance, but because of configuration complexity many just giving up hoping to get away without them..

And then a day, week or year later it bites you in the butt! I know this because I’ve been there.. couple times actually. No matter which tool you pick, just use something!

Welome Tarsnap

Tarsnap is a secure online backup service for BSD, Linux, OS X, Minix, Solaris, Cygwin, and probably many other UNIX-like operating systems. The Tarsnap client code provides a flexible and powerful command-line interface which can be used directly or via shell scripts.

Basically it’s a service that securely stores your information on s3 (the original version, which can survive the loss of 2 datacenters, not the “reduced redundancy” version which can only survive the loss of a single datacenter) and it’s very cheap to use. At the moment it costs 0.30$/GB-month.

If you ever used tar command before you will know how to use tarsnap, because it provides very similar command line options.

The most interesting part about the service is data de-duping. Before Tarsnap sends data to the storage facility it first tries to identify which of the data is actually new and sends only that! Then you only gets charged for the amount of unique data sent and stored on s3. How cool is that!?

Imagine a scenario where you want to do daily backups of images folder with total size of 2Gb. With regular backup tools you would have to archive and store 2Gb each time you do the backup. With Tarsnap you upload 2Gb of data initially and all other backups are just deltas ( probably delta is a wrong word, since each backup is totally independent, so it’s no really an increment per se ) containing only new data which usually are much much smaller in size!

Keep in mind that it’s not traditional full-plus-incrementals backup, with Tarsnap you can create and delete archives independently of each other. I know it sounds like Tarsnap ad, but it’s not. Try it and see for yourself.


You can use tarsnap command line interface without any extra tools. Sometimes though, you want to do some more complex backup setups, where you configure which folders you want to archive, how many copies to store, daily, weekly, monthly backups and so forth.

For that reason I created simple php script called Tarsnapit. It’s a wrapper around tarsnap service, that could be very handy for VPS backups. Actually pretty recently I completely rewrote it to be more abstract. Now it provides many useful things like config file support, plugins with config extending, custom bundles and efficient configurable rotation policies.

It may sound a little complicated, but it’s super simple to use. Give it a shot and tell me what you think ( pull requests are always welcomed ).

Stop writing your own custom backup tools and try Tarsnap, you won’t regret it!

Contact me on Codementor

Some popular ones

My books recommendations

Great book for operations people. Helped me to design and build solid deployment pipelines. Awesome advices on automated testing as well. The author advocates against feature branches, every commit goes to master! Scary? I know, but it actually makes sense once you get the idea. Read the book to find out more.

One of those rare books where every word counts!

Classics from John Allspaw who is SVP of Infrastructure and Operations at Etsy (and used to work for Flickr). The book covers very important topics like metrics collection, continuous deployment, monitoring, dealing with unexpected traffic spikes, dev and ops collaboration and much more. Def recommend if you are starting out in the operations field or been doing it for a while ( in latter case you probably read this book already :).

This book is must read for every software engineer, no matter which language you use! It will change your perspective on writing code. I was amazed by the quality of material - very detailed and up to the point.

"The only way to make the deadline -- the only way to go fast -- is to keep the code as clean as possible at all times."

blog comments powered by Disqus