I'm creating own script for backup user's directories.

CentOS 6.5; Python 2.6.

Directories looks like:

# tree -L 2 -d /var/www/vhosts/
├── freeproxy
│   └── freeproxy.in.ua
├── hudeem
│   └── hudeem.kiev.ua
├── profy
│   └── profy.kiev.ua
├── rtfm
│   └── rtfm.co.ua
├── setevoy
│   ├── forum.setevoy.kiev.ua
│   ├── postfixadmin.setevoy.org.ua
│   ├── setevoy.org.ua
│   └── webmail.setevoy.org.ua
├── worlddesign
│   └── worlddesign.org.ua
└── zabbix
    └── zabbix.setevoy.org.ua

As script big enought, I'll post only three 'most important' functions. So please note, that they using some additional functions.

First - function to create backup directories:

# global const for user's directory
VHOSTSPATH = '/var/www/vhosts/'

def back_dir_create(user, day):

    backdir = '/home/setevoy/backups/temp_new_test/'

    # weekly are kept 4 last, daily - 7 copies
    # thus - better have separate directories

    if day == 'Sun':
        type = '/weekly/'
        type = '/daily/'

    dirname = ('%s%s%s%s-files/' % (backdir, user, type, time.strftime('%Y-%m-%d')))

    if not os.path.exists(dirname):
        print('Creating directory: %s' % dirname)

Second - 'incremental' backup, for files changed last twenty-four hours:

def inc_backup(dir_to_backup, backupname):

    now = time.time()
    cutoff = 86400

    print('Creating archive %s...' % backupname)
    out = tarfile.open(backupname, mode='w:bz2')

    # start walk via all files to find changed last 24 hours

    for root, dirs, files in  os.walk(dir_to_backup, followlinks=True):
        for file in files:
            file = os.path.join(root, file)
                filemodtime = os.stat(file).st_mtime
                if now - filemodtime < cutoff:
                    if os.path.isfile(file):
                        print('Adding file: %s...' % file)
                        print('File modified: %s' % time.ctime(os.path.getmtime(file)))
            except OSError as error:
                print('ERROR: %s' % error)

    print 'Closing archive.'

And both this function used in 'main' function:

def run_backup():

    # here is two functions, not listed here
    # both rerurns lists[] - with users 
    # like just username
    # and dirs 
    # like /var/www/vhosts/username
    userlist = arch_users_list(VHOSTSPATH)
    userpaths = arch_users_path(VHOSTSPATH, userlist)

    # day of week
    curday = time.strftime('%a')

    for hostdir, username in zip(userpaths, userlist):
        print('\nWorking in: %s' % os.getcwd())
        print('Under user: %s' % username)

        # call first function, listed above

        backup_dir = back_dir_create(username, curday)

        if backup_dir:

            virtual_hosts = arch_vhosts_names(hostdir)

            for host in virtual_hosts:
                archname = (backup_dir + host + '.tar.bz2')

                # once in week I want have full backup
                # other time - 'incremental'

                if curday == 'Sun':
                    full_backup(host, archname)
                    inc_backup(host, archname)

            print('Backup already present, skip.')

It works fine for now, but I'm newbie in Python, so - what can be improved here or fixed?


1 Answer 1


Just like you have defined the VHOSTSPATH global variable at the very top, it will make sense to do the same for this too:

backdir = '/home/setevoy/backups/temp_new_test/'

So that if you move your script to another machine, all the local customizations will be in one very visible place.

For even more benefits, move these files to a dedicated settings.py module and make your script import these values from it. then it will be really perfectly clear where to customize the script parameters, and it will be separated from the rest of the code, which will be easily redistributable.

This could be done better:

if day == 'Sun':
    type = '/weekly/'
    type = '/daily/'

dirname = ('%s%s%s%s-files/' % (backdir, user, type, time.strftime('%Y-%m-%d')))

type is a keyword in Python. Intelligent code editors should highlight it for you. It's better to avoid variable names that overlap with keywords. How about subdir?

The way you assign dirname is a bit hard to read, and just by reading that line it's not clear that this is intended as a nested directory layout. If I look at the type variable I see that all possible values are prefixed and suffixed with the / directory separator, but the code doesn't make it obvious why it is this way. A better way would be like this:

if day == 'Sun':
    subdir = 'weekly'
    subdir = 'daily'

dirname = os.path.join(backdir, user, subdir, '%s-files' % time.strftime('%Y-%m-%d'))

In this version, thanks to the os.path.join, now it is explicit that we're talking about a nested hierarchy. Also, you don't need to worry anymore if all components have a / prefix or suffix or not. Just make all components not have such prefix or suffix and let os.path.join take care of it.

Finally, os.path.join is portable: it will work on any operating system. Sure, you may not care about that now, but you never know.

Don't reassign the value of a loop variable:

for file in files:
    file = os.path.join(root, file)

Use a different name for it, for example:

for file in files:
    path = os.path.join(root, file)

The reason is that this can be confusing in various ways. The same is true for function parameters: don't reassign them, use different names for local variables.

The if condition here seems pointless:

for file in files:
    file = os.path.join(root, file)
    # ...
    if os.path.isfile(file):
        # ...

By virtue of the way os.walk works, I think os.path.join(root, file) is always a valid file. Except in some extreme conditions where the file might get removed in the middle of walking. If you are in such environment, then it's fine.

I'm not familiar with tarfile.open, but instead of this:

out = tarfile.open(backupname, mode='w:bz2')
# ... do work

you can probably do this, which will be better:

with tarfile.open(backupname, mode='w:bz2') as out:
    # ... do work

If this indeed works, then you don't need to worry about closing the out handle, it will be properly closed automtically by Python. In the original code, if an error happens after out =, the out.close() might never be reached. The with open(...) as fh: idiom is the recommended way to work with resources that need to be closed when you're done with them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ backdir - yep, already changed; type - I'm writing in VIM, so there no highlights of warnings like this :-) thanks, will change; os.path.join - good point, doesn't thought about such solution. \$\endgroup\$
    – setevoy
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ with tarfile.open(backupname, mode='w:bz2') as out: AttributeError: 'TarFile' object has no attribute 'exit' // if change to with-open() \$\endgroup\$
    – setevoy
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, that's too bad... \$\endgroup\$
    – janos
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 21:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.