Thumbak is a Gnome Desktop Applet which automates the backup process for USB drives. It detects USB drives as they are mounted, asks the user if the drive is to be managed, and thereafter automatically creates snapshots of the drives every time they are mounted.
The Thumbak installation files can be downloaded via the Thumbak home page at http://thumbak.sourceforge.net. Each release is available in rpm, deb, and tgz format. Refer to the documentation for your distribution for instructions on which format to use, and on how to install the package.
Add Thumbak to the Gnome Task Bar
Right-click on the Gnome Task Bar, and select "Add to Panel...". Scroll down to "Thumbak", and select the "Add" button. A Thumbak icon will appear on the Task Bar. Thumbak is now installed and configured.
Backup a Volume
Connect your USB drive. As the drive mounts the first time after installing Thumbak, you will be prompted with a dialog asking for the backup policy for the drive. If you select "From now on", the drive will be backed up immediately. Every time you connect this drive, a backup snapshot will automatically be made. You will be notified when the backup starts, and when it is complete. If you select "Never", the backup will be skipped, and you will not be asked again for this drive. Select "Not this time" if you want to skip the backup for now, but wish to be prompted again in the future.
Restore a Volume
Right-click on the Thumbak icon on the Gnome Task Bar. Select "Manage". Select the desired volume, and select "Restore..." on the "Volume" menu. The Restore Dialog will display the available backup snapshots for this volume, along with the size of each. Select the desired snapshot and an empty directory for the restore process, and press "OK". The Main Window will show an indication that the restore in in progress. When the restore is complete, a file browser will open showing the restored files.
The Main Window allows you to:
- view usb volumes managed by Thumbak;
- manipulate the management of those volumes; and
- view, select, and restore backup images.
The remainder of this section describes the parts of this window.
The Volume List displays all of the volumes which are being managed by Thumbak.
This column shows the volume name for each of the listed USB volumes. The volume name is displayed on the desktop with the volume icon. It can be changed by the user.
See Also: Renaming Volumes
The Volume ID, or volume serial number, is an internal identifier for the volume. It is intended to be unique and persistent. A format of the volume will change the Volume ID.
The Backup column indicates whether Thumbak will perform backups of the volume. For each volume, this column will indicate either "Always" or "Never".
This column will show if Thumbak is actively performing a function for the indicated volume. Activities include:
- Backup - Thumbak is currently backing up the volume
- Restore - Thumbak is currently restoring a backup image
- Delete - Thumbak is deleting the entry for the indicated volume
Enable BackupThis menu item enables and disables Thumbak. When disabled, Thumbak will not initiate the backup of any volume.
The checkbox next to this menu item indicates the current status of Thumbak. The status bar will also show when Thumbak has been enabled or disabled.
Restore...Opens the "Restore" dialog, which allows you make a copy of a particular backup from the selected volume to an empty folder. Refer to the Restore Dialog section for information on this dialog.
Toggle PolicyToggle the backup policy, between "Always" and "Never". A drive with a policy of "Always" will be backed up automatically whenever the drive is mounted, as long as Thumbak is enabled. Thumbak will take no action when a drive with a policy of "Never" is mounted.
DeleteRemove the configuration information and any backups for the selected volume. The next time this volume is mounted on the computer, Thumbak will ask if it is to be backed up.
The Restore Dialog is used to perform a restore operation from a particular Thumbak backup image. It is opened via the "Restore..." menu item on the Main Window.
The Restore Dialog contains two controls for managing the restore. The Backup List displays the particular backup snapshots available for the volume, along with the aggregate size of the files in that snapshot. Thumbak preserves a maximum of ten snapshots for each volume. Fewer snapshots may be displayed, if here are no changes to the volume between consecutive backup operations.
The File Chooser pull-down permits the user to select a folder as the destination for the restored files.
The OK button on the Restore Dialog is disabled until a backup snapshot is selected, as well as an empty directory for the restore operation.
Thumbak stores all backup files and configuration information in the hidden ".thumbak" directory located in the current user's home directory. Individual volume directories are named by the volume serial number, and are located in ".thumbak/volumes". Each of the volume directories contains an XML data file, and a backup directory (if a backup has been performed). Thumbak uses the "rdiff-backup" utility to manage the backup directory. The backup directory consists of an copy of the latest version of the volume, plus an "rdiff-backup" directory containing information about past backup versions.
If you are maintaining a large number of drives in Thumbak, you may want to give each drive a distinctive name, to ease identification.
Thumb drives are typically formatted as Windows VFAT partitions, for portability between operating systems. It's easiest to rename such a drive on a Windows computer. Right-click on the mounted drive icon, and select "Rename". Type a new name for the drive, and hit Enter. Drive names are limited to 11 characters, and case is not preserved.
If you have the "mtools" package installed on your Linux system, you can rename a VFAT volume by running the "mlabel" command as root:
mlabel -i /dev/sdb1 ::BACKUP
Replace "/dev/sdb1" with the device name for your mounted thumb drive. You can use the "df" command to determine the device name. Replace "BACKUP" with the desired name for the thumb drive.