DUMP(8) BSD System Manager's Manual DUMP(8)NAME
dump, rdump — file system backup
dump [-0123456789acLnrRSu] [-B records] [-b blocksize] [-C cachesize]
[-D dumpdates] [-d density] [-f file | -P pipecommand] [-h level]
[-s feet] [-T date] filesystem
dump -W | -w
rdump is an alternate name for dump.
(The 4.3BSD option syntax is implemented for backward compatibility, but
is not documented here.)
The dump utility examines files on a file system and determines which
files need to be backed up. These files are copied to the given disk,
tape or other storage medium for safe keeping (see the -f option below
for doing remote backups). A dump that is larger than the output medium
is broken into multiple volumes. On most media the size is determined by
writing until an end-of-media indication is returned. This can be
enforced by using the -a option.
On media that cannot reliably return an end-of-media indication (such as
some cartridge tape drives) each volume is of a fixed size; the actual
size is determined by the tape size and density and/or -B options. By
default, the same output file name is used for each volume after prompt‐
ing the operator to change media.
The file system to be dumped is specified by the argument filesystem as
either its device-special file or its mount point (if that is in a stan‐
dard entry in /etc/fstab).
The following options are supported by dump:
-0-9 Dump levels. A level 0, full backup, guarantees the entire file
system is copied (but see also the -h option below). A level
number above 0, incremental backup, tells dump to copy all files
new or modified since the last dump of any lower level. The
default level is 0.
-a “auto-size”. Bypass all tape length considerations, and enforce
writing until an end-of-media indication is returned. This fits
best for most modern tape drives. Use of this option is particu‐
larly recommended when appending to an existing tape, or using a
tape drive with hardware compression (where you can never be sure
about the compression ratio).
The number of kilobytes per output volume, except that if it is
not an integer multiple of the output block size, the command
uses the next smaller such multiple. This option overrides the
calculation of tape size based on length and density.
The number of kilobytes per output block. The default block size
Specify the cache size in megabytes. This will greatly improve
performance at the cost of dump possibly not noticing changes in
the file system between passes. It is recommended that you
always use this option when dumping a snapshot. Beware that dump
forks, and the actual memory use may be larger than the specified
cache size. The recommended cache size is between 8 and 32
-c Change the defaults for use with a cartridge tape drive, with a
density of 8000 bpi, and a length of 1700 feet.
Specify an alternate path to the dumpdates file. The default is
Set tape density to density. The default is 1600BPI.
Write the backup to file; file may be a special device file like
/dev/sa0 (a tape drive), /dev/fd1 (a floppy disk drive), an ordi‐
nary file, or ‘-’ (the standard output). Multiple file names may
be given as a single argument separated by commas. Each file
will be used for one dump volume in the order listed; if the dump
requires more volumes than the number of names given, the last
file name will used for all remaining volumes after prompting for
media changes. If the name of the file is of the form
“host:file”, or “user@host:file”, dump writes to the named file
on the remote host using rmt(8). The default path name of the
remote rmt(8) program is /etc/rmt; this can be overridden by the
environment variable RMT.
Use popen(3) to execute the sh(1) script string defined by
pipecommand for the output device of each volume. This child
pipeline's stdin (/dev/fd/0) is redirected from the dump output
stream, and the environment variable DUMP_VOLUME is set to the
current volume number being written. After every volume, the
writer side of the pipe is closed and pipecommand is executed
again. Subject to the media size specified by -B, each volume is
written in this manner as if the output were a tape drive.
Honor the user “nodump” flag (UF_NODUMP) only for dumps at or
above the given level. The default honor level is 1, so that
incremental backups omit such files but full backups retain them.
-L This option is to notify dump that it is dumping a live file sys‐
tem. To obtain a consistent dump image, dump takes a snapshot of
the file system in the .snap directory in the root of the file
system being dumped and then does a dump of the snapshot. The
snapshot is unlinked as soon as the dump starts, and is thus
removed when the dump is complete. This option is ignored for
unmounted or read-only file systems. If the .snap directory does
not exist in the root of the file system being dumped, a warning
will be issued and the dump will revert to the standard behavior.
This problem can be corrected by creating a .snap directory in
the root of the file system to be dumped; its owner should be
“root”, its group should be “operator”, and its mode should be
-n Whenever dump requires operator attention, notify all operators
in the group “operator” by means similar to a wall(1).
-r Be rsync-friendly. Normally dump stores the date of the current
and prior dump in numerous places throughout the dump. These
scattered changes significantly slow down rsync or another incre‐
mental file transfer program when they are used to update a
remote copy of a level 0 dump, since the date changes for each
dump. This option sets both dates to the epoch, permitting rsync
to be much more efficient when transferring a dump file.
-R Be even more rsync-friendly. This option disables the storage of
the actual inode access time (storing it instead as the inode's
modified time). This option permits rsync to be even more effi‐
cient when transferring dumps generated from filesystems with
numerous files which are not changing other than their access
times. The -R option also sets -r.
-S Display an estimate of the backup size and the number of tapes
required, and exit without actually performing the dump.
Attempt to calculate the amount of tape needed at a particular
density. If this amount is exceeded, dump prompts for a new
tape. It is recommended to be a bit conservative on this option.
The default tape length is 2300 feet.
Use the specified date as the starting time for the dump instead
of the time determined from looking in the dumpdates file. The
format of date is the same as that of ctime(3). This option is
useful for automated dump scripts that wish to dump over a spe‐
cific period of time. The -T option is mutually exclusive from
the -u option.
-u Update the dumpdates file after a successful dump. The format of
the dumpdates file is readable by people, consisting of one free
format record per line: file system name, increment level and
ctime(3) format dump date. There may be only one entry per file
system at each level. The dumpdates file may be edited to change
any of the fields, if necessary. The default path for the
dumpdates file is /etc/dumpdates, but the -D option may be used
to change it.
-W Tell the operator what file systems need to be dumped. This
information is gleaned from the files dumpdates and /etc/fstab.
The -W option causes dump to print out, for each file system in
the dumpdates file the most recent dump date and level, and high‐
lights those file systems that should be dumped. If the -W
option is set, all other options are ignored, and dump exits
-w Is like -W, but prints only those file systems which need to be
Directories and regular files which have their “nodump” flag (UF_NODUMP)
set will be omitted along with everything under such directories, subject
to the -h option.
The dump utility requires operator intervention on these conditions: end
of tape, end of dump, tape write error, tape open error or disk read
error (if there are more than a threshold of 32). In addition to alert‐
ing all operators implied by the -n key, dump interacts with the operator
on dump's control terminal at times when dump can no longer proceed, or
if something is grossly wrong. All questions dump poses must be answered
by typing “yes” or “no”, appropriately.
Since making a dump involves a lot of time and effort for full dumps,
dump checkpoints itself at the start of each tape volume. If writing
that volume fails for some reason, dump will, with operator permission,
restart itself from the checkpoint after the old tape has been rewound
and removed, and a new tape has been mounted.
The dump utility tells the operator what is going on at periodic inter‐
vals (every 5 minutes, or promptly after receiving SIGINFO), including
usually low estimates of the number of blocks to write, the number of
tapes it will take, the time to completion, and the time to the tape
change. The output is verbose, so that others know that the terminal
controlling dump is busy, and will be for some time.
In the event of a catastrophic disk event, the time required to restore
all the necessary backup tapes or files to disk can be kept to a minimum
by staggering the incremental dumps. An efficient method of staggering
incremental dumps to minimize the number of tapes follows:
· Always start with a level 0 backup, for example:
/sbin/dump -0u -f /dev/nsa0 /usr/src
This should be done at set intervals, say once a month or once
every two months, and on a set of fresh tapes that is saved
· After a level 0, dumps of active file systems (file systems
with files that change, depending on your partition layout some
file systems may contain only data that does not change) are
taken on a daily basis, using a modified Tower of Hanoi algo‐
rithm, with this sequence of dump levels:
3 2 5 4 7 6 9 8 9 9 ...
For the daily dumps, it should be possible to use a fixed num‐
ber of tapes for each day, used on a weekly basis. Each week,
a level 1 dump is taken, and the daily Hanoi sequence repeats
beginning with 3. For weekly dumps, another fixed set of tapes
per dumped file system is used, also on a cyclical basis.
After several months or so, the daily and weekly tapes should get rotated
out of the dump cycle and fresh tapes brought in.
TAPE The file or device to dump to if the -f option is not used.
RMT Pathname of the remote rmt(8) program.
RSH Pathname of a remote shell program, if not rsh(1).
/dev/sa0 default tape unit to dump to
/etc/dumpdates dump date records (this can be changed; see the -D
/etc/fstab dump table: file systems and frequency
/etc/group to find group operator
Dump exits with zero status on success. Startup errors are indicated
with an exit code of 1; abnormal termination is indicated with an exit
code of 3.
Dumps the /u file system to DVDs using growisofs. Uses a 16MB cache,
creates a snapshot of the dump, and records the dumpdates file.
/sbin/dump -0u-L -C16 -B4589840 -P 'growisofs -Z /dev/cd0=/dev/fd/0' /u
Many, and verbose.
SEE ALSOchflags(1), fstab(5), restore(8), rmt(8)HISTORY
A dump utility appeared in Version 6 AT&T UNIX.
Fewer than 32 read errors on the file system are ignored, though all
errors will generate a warning message. This is a bit of a compromise.
In practice, it is possible to generate read errors when doing dumps on
mounted partitions if the file system is being modified while the dump is
running. Since dumps are often done in an unattended fashion using
cron(8) jobs asking for Operator intervention would result in the dump
dying. However, there is nothing wrong with a dump tape written when
this sort of read error occurs, and there is no reason to terminate the
Each reel requires a new process, so parent processes for reels already
written just hang around until the entire tape is written.
The dump utility with the -W or -w options does not report file systems
that have never been recorded in the dumpdates file, even if listed in
It would be nice if dump knew about the dump sequence, kept track of the
tapes scribbled on, told the operator which tape to mount when, and pro‐
vided more assistance for the operator running restore(8).
The dump utility cannot do remote backups without being run as root, due
to its security history. This will be fixed in a later version of
FreeBSD. Presently, it works if you set it setuid (like it used to be),
but this might constitute a security risk.
BSD February 24, 2006 BSD