19.10 Backups to Floppies

19.10.1 Can I Use Floppies for Backing Up My Data?

Floppy disks are not a suitable media for making backups as:

However, if no other method of backing up data is available, floppy disks are better than no backup at all.

When backing up to floppy disks, ensure the floppies are of good quality. Floppies that have been lying around the office for a couple of years are a bad choice. Ideally, use new ones from a reputable manufacturer.

19.10.2 So How Do I Backup My Data to Floppies?

The best way to backup to floppy disk is to use tar(1) with -M (multi-volume), which allows backups to span multiple floppies.

To backup all the files in the current directory and sub-directory, use this as root:

# tar Mcvf /dev/fd0 *

When the first floppy is full, tar(1) will prompt to insert the next volume, which in this case is the next floppy disk:

Prepare volume #2 for /dev/fd0 and hit return:

This is repeated, with the volume number incrementing, until all the specified files have been archived.

19.10.3 Can I Compress My Backups?

Unfortunately, tar(1) does not support -z for multi-volume archives. Instead, gzip(1) all the files, tar(1) them to the floppies, then gunzip(1) the files.

19.10.4 How Do I Restore My Backups?

To restore the entire archive use:

# tar Mxvf /dev/fd0

There are two methods to restore only specific files. The first is to insert the first floppy and use:

# tar Mxvf /dev/fd0 filename

tar(1) will prompt to insert subsequent floppies until it finds the required file.

Alternatively, if the floppy containing the file is known, insert that floppy and use the same command. If the first file on the floppy is a continuation from the previous one, tar(1) will warn that it cannot restore it, even if you have not asked it to.