How does UrBackup identify a client?

I’ve never worried too much about a “computer name” in Windows. For my uses, I identify computers with a DNS server I run. When I installed UrBackup client on a Windows box, it was detected by the UrBackup server, but under a really bogus name (probably provided by Windows at installation time). So I started searching “how to change client name in UrBackup”, thinking this would be a common and simple process. It appears not.

I suppose I had always thought that UrBackup identified clients possibly by a certificate that was generated at install time. Something that was controlled by UrBackup directly, not by the operating system, or the IP address assigned to the box, or whatever. That way users would be free to rename their computer, change it’s IP address, etc. without throwing UrBackup into confusion.

But it appears that UrBackup uses the computer name to identify a client from my research into renaming. Is this true? Does it also use the IP address? I have a laptop that generally connects via WiFi, but now I want to hard wire it. That is going to change the IP address moving from the WiFi adapter to the Ethernet adapter (I know that I can do some gyrations to avoid an IP change).

I rarely upgrade an OS over the top of an existing OS. I do a clean install of a newer OS version, a clean install of programs/apps, then restore user files from a backup. While I do make image backups for Windows computers, I would rarely use one. Only if I really needed to get that Windows box back up and running ASAP. What item(s) on a UrBackup client need to be kept constant for the UrBackup server to recognize the client as being the same client as before?

Some additional info in my quest to rename a client…

Client was initially discovered as “Laptop-aecfty” or something bizarre like that. I checked, and that was the “Computer Name” that Windows had assigned to it at Windows installation time.

On the UrBackup server, I renamed the client to “ASUS-Laptop”. After a while, this showed up as a new client, the original was still there. So From UrBackup server I told it to remove the old client. Ater the cleanup window, it had removed both.

I went to the client computer and renamed it to “ASUS-laptop”. Note: Very similar to what I had renamed it to from the UrBackup server, but with a lowercase “l” instead of uppercase “L” in the name. I rebooted the client computer so the new name would be in effect.

I uninstalled the UrBackup client software, then reinstalled the UrBackup client software.

The client computer was rediscovered by UrBackup server. TWICE. Once as “ASUS-laptop” and once as “ASUS-Laptop”. So the UrBackup server somehow remembered the client renaming it had done back before it was instructed to delete that client.

Now I have requested UrBackup server to delete the unexpected second client. The one that is a remnant of UrBackup’s previous renaming and subsequent deletion. I am awaiting the cleanup window to see what it actually deletes this time. I’m betting it will delete BOTH clients, but we’ll see. I hope it doesn’t, and things are straightened out now.

The core of UrBackup is fantastic software. The edges seem a little rough in places. Are my steps above user error? What would be a better method for me to rename a client? Or delete one and re-add it from scratch should I desire to do that? It seems like UrBackup server retains memory of some remnants of a previous client. Should I have done something additional, instead of just waiting on the cleanup window to do the work?

My experience (with Linux clients) is renaming is almost impossible to have happen correctly. We ended up with at least 2 duplicated client pairs after trying to change host names.

Because we already had around 12 months of mail data on one of these, I couldn’t just delete them and start again… So I came up with the idea of creating a client group called “archived”, then reverse sorted the client list by group name instead of computer name. The wrong names then ended up at the bottom, out of my way, and making the green/red backup status indicators much easier to check.

Later I ended up with other actually removed clients in this archived group - old laptops, servers we no longer needed, etc. Having them listed in a group that way makes it much easier to manually work out what should be removed and what shouldn’t.

I would like to add my 2 cents here.

I recently got myself a new computer after 8 years. Gave the name I wanted in the install (not the same as my last computer) so can’t help you with that problem.
I moved one of the mechanical drives to the new computer and installed urbackup client. Added the directories and ran a full file backup (after that running incrementals only).

Did NOT remove the old client from the urbackup server.

The backup ran and the statistics page told me the backup increased by about the same amount.

Let the server sit for the day until the daily cleanup window, and voila, the day after the server figured out that the files on the mechanical drive (witch is about 80% of what is backed up) contained the same files as the old backup and linked them, the “used space” on the statistics page showed it dropped down to near damn close to what it was before I added the new client.

I’m guessing you can force the “cleanup window” to occur immediately with cli, but what I wanted to put out is that I am highly impressed with how urbackup server handled duplicate files!

My interpretation here where you have 2 client names of the same client is that it is more or less cosmetic (and annoying to a slightly ocd personality like me). The ident code were most likely the same on both the “ASUS-Laptop” and “ASUS-laptop”, there are some old data about the first one you added somewhere in the urbackup server database and therefore adds two instances of the client. Maybe a database cleanup before adding the “new” client would fix that?

I’m suspecting the space used for the backups are not increasing.

That 100% describes me as well. I had one client where I also set up a second virtual client. After watching this run for a week (daily backups), I decided it was overkill to have this virtual client. I had outsmarted myself thinking a virtual client would gain me anything. So I told the server to delete the virtual client and added the virtual client’s directories to the main client. All done on the server - I am trying to avoid specifying backup paths on the individual clients - for no real reason other than possibly OCD.

That worked. The virtual client disappeared after the cleanup window and the main client picked up the additional backup directories. I was not worried about merging the historical backups from the virtual into the updated main client. That would have probably been dang near impossible, and it just didn’t matter to me anyway.

I checked the client later using “urbackupclientctl list-backupdirs” CLI on the client. And the client still shows the old virtual client stuff as being part of it’s backups. These don’t appear on the server anymore, but they still show up on the client. This doesn’t appear to actually affect anything, except it’s messy looking on the client to have things listed as being backed up that aren’t really being backed up. This could be confusing a few years down the line when I look at the client again after having forgotten about the old virtual client.

And on other clients … Client deletions leave remnants. Client renamings leave remnants. Being a bit OCD, what I have been doing is deleting clients (and virtual clients) from the server. Deleting the client installation from the client. Renaming the client in the OS (to a significantly different name than before - changing character case is not significant enough). Rebooting the client. Re-installing the urbackup client software. Having the client be rediscovered by the server. Even after this, sometimes the old deleted client pops back up somehow (but shows as offline). This part I do not understand, but it happens. But only sometimes, not always.

So I repeat the entire deletion/reinstallation process. So far, on the second attempt, everything appears to come up as I expect. Note that every time I run this process, I am trashing the clients previous backups. This is OK with me currently, as I am still in the early phases of bringing a new urbackup setup online. This process would not be viable if I were trying to retain historical backups.

This is messy behavior from urbackup. The core software works, but as I said before, it’s rough around the edges. It takes a bit of end user trial and error testing to figure out some of the software behaviors. I still like and trust urbackup. And I will continue using it. But looking at how long questions and problems go unanswered on these forums (many years sometimes), I hold out little hope that we will see the rough edges smoothed. The developer(s) may not even be aware of the issues brought up here. I know this is a user forum, not a developer support forum. But I haven’t found any other more formal way to report issues with urbackup though.