The following thoughts are probably not for restic directly, but for frontends build on top of restic to make them more user-friendly. Sorry it is a somewhat of a dump of thoughts.
After setting up nightly backups on a lot of different machines when I have limited disk space or network bandwidth I find that the ignore file is one of the more difficult things to get right. I don’t want to be backing up something that changes frequently if that data is easily recreated if I needed to rebuild my machine. For example:
- Google Chrome writes a lot of different files all the time, but when you have sync enabled then everything can be restored to a fresh install of Chrome on a new machine.
- Email clients often store a lot of redundant data
- Downloads directory
- Trash/Recycling folders
- Lots of other little programs that you would expect that keep local state that is trivially recreated
Backing up these folders are harmless and a backup is still perfectly correct if everything is included, but the nightly backups will take more disk space and memory bandwidth than needed otherwise.
Helping the user
What I want to know as a user is: What am I backing up and why is it taking so long. Personally, I run backups at night time and expect them to be finished in the morning when I want to start using my computers in the morning. So if I backup process is still running I will check it see what it happens to be working on at that moment. (
lsof on linux & mac, FileMon on windows). Often it is something like “Oh, I ripped that dvd and then left it in my home directory”. Then I move the file to a place not included in my critical file backups and want to tell the backup program to look again. Or “That new cryptocoin is generating tons of data”. Here I add this new directory to my ignore list and need to restart the backup to skip that directory.
Summary: I need to know what is happing and be able to restart a backup in progress with changes.
the ideal GUI
If for example, someone was working on a web frontend for restic then I would like to have the following:
- If a backup is currently running let me know what is being backed up right at the moment. This makes it more entertaining to watch and is surprisingly useful.
- When setting up a new backup have the ability to prescan the source files and report how much data is included. Include a directory browser with sizes and a disk space visualization. Sorta like a web version of WinDirStat. (philesight is one example I find with a quick search)
- When showing old snapshots please include the size of that snapshot (GB of new data) and the time spend making that backup. Have a way to click on the snapshot and visualize which files were included in the backup.
- When a backup is running it would be really cool to be able to visualize which files are going to be backed up next. I assume that the file scanner in restic runs in a different thread and is allowed to get way ahead of the backup process so restic has this information if it has a way to tell the frontend about it.
- Allow me to edit the ignore file directly. I don’t need a frontend here, but provide a textarea to make tweaks.
- Allow me to restart a backup in progress to notice files that have been moved or changes to the ignore file.
- Sometimes a snapshot includes a whole ton of junk files I didn’t mean to include. It would be handy to delete certain snapshots so they don’t end up being the snapshot that is kept around for 6 months.