I started using Tarsnap about three years ago and I have been nothing but impressed with it since. It is simple to use, extremely cost effective and, more than once, it has saved me from myself; making it easy to retrieve copies of files that I have inadvertently overwritten or otherwise done stupid things with1. When I first posted about it, I included a simple wrapper script, which has held up pretty well over that time.
What became apparent over the last couple of months, as I began to consciously make more regular backups, was that pruning the archives was a relatively tedious business. Given that Tarsnap de-duplicates data, there isn’t much mileage in keeping around older archives because, if you do have to retrieve a file, you don’t want to have to search through a large number of archives to find it; so there is a balance between making use of Tarsnap’s efficient functionality, and not creating a rod for your back if your use case is occasionally retrieving single—or small groups of—files, rather than large dumps.
I have settled on keeping five to seven archives, depending on the frequency of my backups, which is somewhere around two to three times a week. Pruning these archives was becoming tedious, so I wrote a simple script to make it less onerous. Essentially, it writes a list of all the archives to a tmpfile, runs sort(1) to order them from oldest to newest, and then deletes the oldest minus whatever the number to keep is set to.
The bulk of the code is simple enough:
Once every couple of weeks, I run the script, review the archives marked for deletion and then blow them away. Easy. If you aren’t using Tarsnap, you really should check it out; it is an excellent service and—for the almost ridiculously small investment—you get rock solid, encrypted peace of mind. Why would you not do that?
This is the one hundredth post on this blog: a milestone that I never envisaged getting anywhere near. Looking back through the posts, nearly 60,000 words worth, there are a couple there that continue to draw traffic and are obviously seen at some level as helpful. There are also quite a few that qualify as “filler”, but blogging is a discipline like any other and sometimes you just have to push something up to keep the rhythm going. In any event, this is a roundabout way of saying that, for a variety of reasons both personal and professional, I am no longer able to fulfil my own expectations of regularly pushing these posts out.
I will endeavour to, from time to time when I find something that I genuinely think is worth sharing, make an effort to write about it, but I can’t see that happening all that often. I’d like to thank all the people that have read these posts; especially those of you that have commented. With every post, I always looked forward to people telling me where I got something wrong or how I could have approached a problem differently or more effectively2; I learned a lot from these pointers and I am grateful to the people that were generous enough to share them.
- The frequency with which this happens is, admittedly, low; but not low enough to confidently abandon a service like this…
- Leaving a complimentary note is just as welcome, don’t get me wrong…