27.2. Integrating ReaR with Backup Software

The main purpose of ReaR is to produce a rescue system, but it can also be integrated with backup software. What integration means is different for the built-in, supported, and unsupported backup methods.

27.2.1. The Built-in Backup Method

ReaR includes a built-in, or internal, backup method. This method is fully integrated with ReaR, which has these advantages:
  • a rescue system and a full-system backup can be created using a single rear mkbackup command
  • the rescue system restores files from the backup automatically
As a result, ReaR can cover the whole process of creating both the rescue system and the full-system backup. Configuring the Internal Backup Method

To make ReaR use its internal backup method, add these lines to /etc/rear/local.conf:
BACKUP_URL=backup location
These lines configure ReaR to create an archive with a full-system backup using the tar command. Substitute backup location with one of the options from the "Backup Software Integration" section of the rear(8) man page. Make sure that the backup location has enough space.

Example 27.4. Adding tar Backups

To expand the example in Section 27.1, “Basic ReaR Usage”, configure ReaR to also output a tar full-system backup into the /srv/backup/ directory:
The internal backup method allows further configuration.
  • To keep old backup archives when new ones are created, add this line:
  • By default, ReaR creates a full backup on each run. To make the backups incremental, meaning that only the changed files are backed up on each run, add this line:
    This automatically sets NETFS_KEEP_OLD_BACKUP_COPY to y.
  • To ensure that a full backup is done regularly in addition to incremental backups, add this line:
    Substitute "Day" with one of the "Mon", "Tue", "Wed", "Thu". "Fri", "Sat", "Sun".
  • ReaR can also include both the rescue system and the backup in the ISO image. To achieve this, set the BACKUP_URL directive to iso:///backup/:
    This is the simplest method of full-system backup, because the rescue system does not need the user to fetch the backup during recovery. However, it needs more storage. Also, single-ISO backups cannot be incremental.

    Example 27.5. Configuring Single-ISO Rescue System and Backups

    This configuration creates a rescue system and a backup file as a single ISO image and puts it into the /srv/backup/ directory:


    The ISO image might be large in this scenario. Therefore, Red Hat recommends creating only one ISO image, not two. For details, see the section called “ISO-specific Configuration”.
  • To use rsync instead of tar, add this line:
    Note that incremental backups are only supported when using tar. Creating a Backup Using the Internal Backup Method

With BACKUP=NETFS set, ReaR can create either a rescue system, a backup file, or both.
  • To create a rescue system only, run:
    rear mkrescue
  • To create a backup only, run:
    rear mkbackuponly
  • To create a rescue system and a backup, run:
    rear mkbackup
Note that triggering backup with ReaR is only possible if using the NETFS method. ReaR cannot trigger other backup methods.


When restoring, the rescue system created with the BACKUP=NETFS setting expects the backup to be present before executing rear recover. Hence, once the rescue system boots, copy the backup file into the directory specified in BACKUP_URL, unless using a single ISO image. Only then run rear recover.
To avoid recreating the rescue system unnecessarily, you can check whether storage layout has changed since the last rescue system was created using these commands:
~]# rear checklayout
~]# echo $?
Non-zero status indicates a change in disk layout. Non-zero status is also returned if ReaR configuration has changed.


The rear checklayout command does not check whether a rescue system is currently present in the output location, and can return 0 even if it is not there. So it does not guarantee that a rescue system is available, only that the layout has not changed since the last rescue system has been created.

Example 27.6. Using rear checklayout

To create a rescue system, but only if the layout has changed, use this command:
~]# rear checklayout || rear mkrescue

27.2.2. Supported Backup Methods

In addition to the NETFS internal backup method, ReaR supports several external backup methods. This means that the rescue system restores files from the backup automatically, but the backup creation cannot be triggered using ReaR.
For a list and configuration options of the supported external backup methods, see the "Backup Software Integration" section of the rear(8) man page.

27.2.3. Unsupported Backup Methods

With unsupported backup methods, there are two options:
  1. The rescue system prompts the user to manually restore the files. This scenario is the one described in "Basic ReaR Usage", except for the backup file format, which may take a different form than a tar archive.
  2. ReaR executes the custom commands provided by the user. To configure this, set the BACKUP directive to EXTERNAL. Then specify the commands to be run during backing up and restoration using the EXTERNAL_BACKUP and EXTERNAL_RESTORE directives. Optionally, also specify the EXTERNAL_IGNORE_ERRORS and EXTERNAL_CHECK directives. See /usr/share/rear/conf/default.conf for an example configuration.

27.2.4. Creating Multiple Backups

With the version 2.00, ReaR supports creation of multiple backups. Backup methods that support this feature are:
  • BACKUP=NETFS (internal method)
  • BACKUP=BORG (external method)
You can specify individual backups with the -C option of the rear command. The argument is a basename of the additional backup configuration file in the /etc/rear/ directory. The method, destination, and the options for each specific backup are defined in the specific configuration file, not in the main configuration file.
To perform the basic recovery of the system:

Procedure 27.1. Basic recovery of the system

  1. Create the ReaR recovery system ISO image together with a backup of the files of the basic system:
      ~]# rear -C basic_system mkbackup
  2. Back the files up in the /home directories:
      ~]# rear -C home_backup mkbackuponly
Note that the specified configuration file should contain the directories needed for a basic recovery of the system, such as /boot, /root, and /usr.

Procedure 27.2. Recovery of the system in the rear recovery shell

To recover the system in the rear recovery shell, use the following sequence of commands:
  1.   ~]# rear -C basic_system recover
  2.   ~]# rear -C home_backup restoreonly