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[Bug-tar] Incremental restore problem

From: Daniel Haude
Subject: [Bug-tar] Incremental restore problem
Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2006 17:23:49 +0100
User-agent: Opera Mail/9.02 (Linux)

Hello list,

I browsed a bit through the archives but couldn't find any info on this.

Short question: What happens if a file is moved (but otherwise not touched) before an incremental backup? It seems that listed-incremental goes only by inode, not by file location, and therefore the file gets lost upon restore.

Here's what happened: For a while I've been running daily listed-incremental backups of my home dir. Just for testing purposes I did an incremental extract into another dir and compared with the actual contents of my home dir. To my surprise I found dozens of files missing in one particular directory tree. The directores were all there but empty. That directory tree had been created a few days ago during a reorganization of my files, and most of it contents had been moved there from other locations.

At first I thought that something must have gone wrong during the backup on the day when I moved all the stuff, but then I noticed that only the moved files were missing but not those that had been newly created or modified. It seems that tar just goes through a list of inodes, backing up those that have changed, but forgetting about those that have been moved to different locations unchanged.

Of course if worst came to worst the actual data could still be restored from earlier backups, but sometimes you don't really know what you're looking for or you forgot a file's name, and then what?

Reading through the mailing lists I got the impression that the incremental restore is supposed to generate a 100% accurate replica of the original directory structure. In that case the behavior in case of moved files should be considerered.

I'm using tar 1.14 of Debian stable. I just saw it is copyrighted back in 2004. Maybe there is a newer version where this behavior has been fixed. I'll look.

Regards, --Daniel

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