These days, backing up Mac OS X Server is easier than ever, with plenty of options available for taking incremental backups of system and service data, and great support from Time Machine’s ServerBackup process in making sure that databases and Open Directory are included in hourly backups.
All of these great options have one thing in common though: restoration. In a production environment, as lovely as backups are; admins are often hounded by management and users when hardware fails, and time elapses whilst operating systems are re-installed and service data rolled back from backup drives. To combat this downtime, I like to keep a fully bootable backup connected to each production server that is as up to date as possible. In many situations, this allows you to get a slightly data-delayed version of your environment up and running until you can schedule proper downtime to restore backed up data. For years, I utilised Mike Bombich‘s fantastic tool Carbon Copy Cloner, along with it’s excellent Scheduled Tasks functionality for this exact purpose. With it’s recent move to shareware, I decided that there really should be a free, open source script for cloning Mac OS X that can be scheduled with launchd, and provides proper logging and statistical data. It is with this that I announce the release of Counterpart; a wrapper script for rsync on OS X that is capable of producing bootable clones of live Mac systems. I have been using this for a little over 6 months to backup hundreds of OS X systems, and it has made my life so much easier a couple of times during hardware failures.
Counterpart utilises rsync, the fantastic data and synchronisation utility, and wraps it in a script that provides the correct settings and filesystem exceptions to create a bootable clone of a live Mac system, whilst error checking and providing comprehensive logging, statistics and monitoring data. It is bundled with detailed documentation and instructions on scheduling clones. Coming soon is a companion Nagios plugin script to monitor clones and provide performance data, meaning you can be sure clones are completing successfully, and get insights into your backup data like this:
It should also be said that whilst Counterpart was first envisaged to backup Mac OS X Server instances, there is nothing stopping it being used to back up standard OS X clients, and it would be a great, fully scriptable, free way to create a bootable clone of your OS before an upgrade or significant modification to your system.
I have uploaded Counterpart as a new project on GitHub, and welcome any feedback that you may have on using it. I am also happy to answer any questions on getting it set up in your environment, and I am best contacted using this form.