Synchronization and backup programs

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This wiki page contains information about various backup programs. It's a good idea to have regular backups of important data, most notably configuration files (/etc/*) and the local pacman database (usually /var/lib/pacman/local/*).


Before you start trying various programs out, try to think about your needs, e.g. consider the following questions:

  • What backup medium do I have available? (CD, DVD, remote server, external hard drive, etc.)
  • How often do I plan to backup? (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
  • What features do I expect from the backup solution? (compression, encryption, handles renames, etc.)
  • How do I plan to restore backups if needed?

Backup software

Incremental backups

Applications that can do incremental backups remember and take into account what data has been backed up during the last run and eliminate the need to have duplicates of unchanged data. Restoring the data to a certain point in time would require locating the last full backup and all the incremental backups from then to the moment when it is supposed to be restored. This sort of backup is useful for those who do it very often.

Rsync-type backups

The main characteristic of this type of backups is that they maintain a copy of the directory you want to keep a backup of, in a traditional "mirror" fashion.

Certain rsync-type packages also do snapshot backups by storing files which describe how the contents of files and folders changed from the last backup (so-called 'diffs'). Hence, they are inherently incremental, but usually they do not have compression or encryption. On the other hand, a working copy of everything is immediately available, no decompression/decryption needed. A downside to rsync-type programs is that they cannot be easily burned and restored from a CD or DVD.

  • rsync — A file transfer program to keep remote files in sync.
    • rsync almost always makes a mirror of the source.
    • Impossible to restore a full backup before the most recent backup (but you can use --backup to keep old versions of the files).
    • Standard install on all distros.
    • Can run over SSH (port 22) or native rsync protocol (port 873).
    • Win32 version available. || rsync
  • rdiff-backup — A utility for local/remote mirroring and incremental backups.
    • Stores the most recent backup as regular files.
    • To revert to older versions, you apply the diff files to recreate the older versions.
    • It is granularly incremental (delta backup), it only stores changes to a file; will not create a new copy of a file upon change.
    • Win32 version available. || rdiff-backup
  • rsnapshot — A remote filesystem snapshot utility.
    • Does not store diffs, instead it copies entire files if they have changed.
    • Creates hard links between a series of backed-up trees (snapshots).
    • It is differential in that the size of the backup is only the original backup size plus the size of all files that have changed since the last backup.
    • Destination filesystem must support hard links.
    • Win32 version available. || rsnapshot
  • SafeKeep — A client/server backup system which uses rdiff-backup.
    • Integrates with Linux LVM and databases to create consistent backups.
    • Bandwidth throttling. || safekeepAUR
  • Link-Backup — A tool similar to rsync based scripts, but which does not use rsync.
    • Creates hard links between a series of backed-up trees (snapshots).
    • Intelligently handles renames, moves, and duplicate files without additional storage or transfer.
    • The backup directory contains .catalog, a catalog of all unique file instances; backup trees hard-link to this catalog.
    • Transfer occurs over standard I/O locally or remotely between a client and server instance of this script.
    • It copies itself to the server; it does not need to be installed on the server.
    • Requires SSH for remote backups.
    • It resumes stopped backups; it can even be told to run for an arbitrary number of minutes. || link-backupAUR
  • Unison — A program that synchronizes files between two machines over network (LAN or Inet) using a smart diff method + rsync. Allows the user to interactively choose which changes to push, pull, or merge. || unison
  • oldtime — A highly customizable and configurable backup & restore system. || }
  • Back In Time — A simple backup tool for Linux inspired by the FlyBack and TimeVault projects.
    • Creates hard links between a series of backed-up trees (snapshots).
    • Really is just a front-end to rsync, diff, cp.
    • A new snapshot is created only if something changed since the last snapshot. || backintimeAUR || flybackAUR
  • Areca Backup — An easy to use and reliable backup solution for Linux and Windows.
    • Written in Java.
    • Primarily archive-based (zip), but will do file-based backup as well.
    • Delta backup supported (stores only changes). || arecaAUR
  • luckyBackup — An easy program to backup and sync your files.
    • It is written in Qt and C++.
    • It has sync, backup (with include and exclude options) and restore capabilities.
    • It can do remote connection backups, scheduled backups.
    • A command line mode. || luckybackupAUR
  • syncBackup — A front-end for rsync that provides a fast and extraordinary copying tool. It offers the most common options that control its behavior and permit very flexible specification of the set of files to be copied. || syncbackupAUR
  • BackupPC — A high-performance, enterprise-grade system for backing up Unix, Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X desktops and laptops to a remote server. || BackupPC

Other backups

Most other backup applications tend to create (big) archive files and (of course) keep track of what's been archived. Creating .tar.bz2 or .tar.gz archives has the advantage that you can extract the backups with just tar/bzip2/gzip, so you do not need to have the backup program around.

  • Backup Manager — A command line backup tool for Linux, designed to help you make daily archives of your file system.
    • Manual and automatic (via cron) backup.
    • Backups can be stored in files, MySQL or SVN repositories.
    • Specify multiple targets to backup at once (/etc, /home, etc.) with blacklisting of files or sub-directories.
    • Full or Incremental backup.
    • Backup to CD/DVD, LAN or a remote server via FTP, SSH, rsync or Amazon S3.
    • Compression and encryption.
    • Can run different instances with different configuration files concurrently. || backup-managerAUR
  • Arch Backup — A trivial backup scripts with simple configuration.
    • Configurable compression method.
    • Multiple backup targets. || arch-backup
  • hdup — A very simple command line backup tool.
    • Creates tar.gz or tar.bz2 archives.
    • Supports gpg encryption.
    • Supports pushing over SSH.
    • Multiple backup targets. || hdupAUR
  • rdup — A platform for backups that provides scripts to facilitate backups and delegates the encryption, compression, transfer and packaging to other utilities in a true Unix-way.
    • Creates tar.gz archives or rsync-type copy.
    • Encryption (gpg, blowfish and others); also applies for rsync-type copy.
    • Compression (also for rsync-type copy). || rdupAUR
  • Duplicity — A simple command-line utility which allows encrypted compressed incremental backup to nearly any storage.
    • Supports gpg encryption and signing.
    • Supports gzip compression.
    • Supports full or incremental backups, incremental backup stores only difference between new and old file.
    • Supports pushing over FTP, SSH, rsync, WebDAV, WebDAVs, HSi and Amazon S3 or local filesystem. || duplicity
  • DAR — A full-featured command-line backup tool, short for Disk ARchive.
    • It uses its own format for archives (so you need to have it around when you want to restore).
    • Supports splitting backups into more files by size.
    • Makefile-type config files, some custom scripts are available along with it.
    • Supports basic encryption.
    • Automatic backup using cron is possible with sarabAUR. || darAUR kdarAUR (fontend)
  • Manent — An algorithmically strong backup and archival program.
    • Efficient backup to anything that looks like a storage.
    • Works well over a slow and unreliable network.
    • Offers online access to the contents of the backup.
    • Backed up storage is completely encrypted.
    • Several computers can use the same storage for backup, automatically sharing data.
    • Not reliant on timestamps of the remote system to detect changes.
    • Cross-platform support for Unicode file names. || manentAUR
  • Backerupper — A simple program for backing up selected directories over a local network. Its main intended purpose is backing up a user's personal data.
    • Creates .tar.gz archives.
    • Configurable backup frequency, backup time and max copies. || backerupperAUR
  • Déjà Dup — A simple GTK+ backup program. It hides the complexity of doing backups the 'right way' (encrypted, off-site, and regular) and uses duplicity as the backend.
    • Automatic, timed backup configurable in GUI.
    • Restore wizard.
    • Integrated into the Nautilus file manager.
    • Inherits several features of duplicity. || deja-dup
  • Synkron — A folder synchronization tool.
    • Syncs multiple folders.
    • Can exclude files from sync based on wildcards.
    • Restores files.
    • Cross-platform support. || synkronAUR

Cloud backups

  • CrashPlan — An online/offsite backup solution.
    • Unlimited online space for very reasonable pricing.
    • Automatic and incremental backups to multiple destinations.
    • Intuitive GUI.
    • Offers encryption and de-duplication.
    • Software is generally free. || crashplanAUR
  • Dropbox — A popular file-sharing service.
    • A daemon monitors a specified directory, and uploads incremental changes to
    • Changes automatically show up on your other computers.
    • Includes file sharing and a public directory.
    • You can recover deleted files.
    • Community written add-ons.
    • Free accounts have 2GB storage. || nautilus-dropboxAUR – extension for Nautilus, dropboxAUR – without Gnome dependencies
  • Jungle Disk — An online backup tool that stores its data in Amazon S3 or Rackspace Cloud Files.
    • A Nautilus extension.
    • Only paid plans available. || nautilus-junglediskAUR
  • Tarsnap — A secure online backup service for BSD, Linux, OS X, Solaris and Windows (through Cygwin).
    • Compressed encrypted backups to Amazon S3 Servers.
    • Automate via cron.
    • Incremental backups.
    • Backup any files or directories.
    • Command line only client.
    • Pay only for usage (bandwidth and storage). || tarsnap
  • Wuala — A secure online storage, file synchronization, versioning and backup service.
    • Closed source, free and paid version available.
    • Free account holds 5GB.
    • Includes file sharing and a public directory.
    • Incremental backup and sync are both supported.
    • Social networking features.
    • All files in the cloud are first encrypted locally. || wualaAUR, wuala-daemonAUR – to run as daemon
  • SpiderOak — An online backup tool for Windows, Mac and Linux users to back up, share, sync, access and store[1] their data.
    • Free and paid version available.
    • Free account holds 2GB.
    • Includes file sharing and a public directory.
    • Incremental backup and sync are both supported. || spideroakAUR
  • Ubuntu One — An online storage service with sync and sharing across platforms.
    • Free and payed versions available.
    • Free account with 5GB.
    • Mobile access.
    • Music streaming. || ubuntuone-client
  • Packrat — A simple, modular backup system that uses DAR to take full or incremental backups of files and can store them locally, on a remote system via SSH, or on Amazon S3. || packratAUR

Not incremental backups

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Reason: please use the first argument of the template to provide a brief explanation. (Discuss in Talk:Synchronization and backup programs#)
  • Q7Z (in AUR) — P7Zip GUI for Linux, which attempts to simplify data compression and backup. It can create the following archive types: 7z, BZip2, Zip, GZip, Tar. Use Q7Z if you want to:
    • Update existing archives quickly
    • Backup multiple folders to a storage location
    • Create or extract protected archives
    • Lessen effort by using archiving profiles and lists || q7zAUR
  • "Just copy everything into one big archive, but support writing to cd/dvd"-type: backup-manager (in AUR)
  • Partclone -- back up and restore only the used blocks of a partition
  • filesystem-backupAUR – simple bash script (was originally a MySQL backup script) that creates a rolling 7 days, rolling 4 weeks and static monthly backups in tar format. Good for servers without a GUI.
  • Clonezilla
    • Boots from live CD, USB flash drive, or PXE server
    • Uses Partimage, ntfsclone, partclone, and dd,
    • Compatability with many file systems (ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserfs, xfs, jfs of GNU/Linux, FAT, NTFS, and HFS+)
    • Multicasting server to restore to many machines at once
    • If file system is supported , only used blocks in harddisk are saved and restored. For unsupported file system, sector-to-sector copy is done
  • Partimage
  • Fsarchiver (in extra repo)
    • Support for basic file attributes (permissions, owner, ...)
    • Support for multiple file-systems per archive
    • Support for extended attributes (they are used by SELinux)
    • Support the basic file-system attributes (label, uuid, block-size) for all linux file-systems
    • Support for ntfs filesystems (ability to create flexible clones of windows partitions)
    • Checksumming of everything which is written in the archive (headers, data blocks, whole files)
    • Ability to restore an archive which is corrupt (it will just skip the current file)
    • Multi-threaded lzo, gzip, bzip2, lzma compression: if you have a dual-core / quad-core it will use all the power of your cpu
    • Support for splitting large archives into several files with a fixed maximum size
    • Encryption of the archive using a password. Based on blowfish from libcrypto from openssl.
    • Support backup of a mounted root filesystem (-A option)
  • Mondo Rescue
    • Image-based backups, supporting Linux/Windows, I do not think it cares much about filesystems. Backs up MBR too, along with partition layout.
    • Compression rate adjustable
    • Can backup live systems (without having to halt it, unlike most, e.g. Clonezilla).
    • Can split image over as many as you want (just set the size for a CD - 700 MB to backup to CD, etc.).
    • Supports booting to a "live cd", in a sense, to perform a full restore.
    • Can backup/restore over NFS, cd's, tape drives and what not.
    • Can verify backups
    • Neat-o ncurses interface. Plus a free progressbar!
    • Customizable to all kinds of ends
    • Can get a bit confusing/time consuming to get up and running, and verify everything works.

Versioning systems

These are traditionally used for keeping track of software development; but if you want to have a simple way to manage your config files in one directory, it might be a good solution.

  • mercurial or git (both in extra repo)
  • gibak: a backup system based on git. it also supports binary diffs (for binaries, e-books, pictures, multimedia files, etc). on the homepage there is a short usage advice. it is meant to backup only the $HOME directory. one could also backup other directories (like /etc) by changing the $HOME variable to point to that directory (though i do not really recommend this). gibak is handy for people who are familiar with git. it uses .gitignore to filter files and one can use the git commands to restore files, browse through logs, diffs, etc. if one needs a gui, it is also possible to use gitk or qgit to browse through commits or do whatever these interfaces support. get it from AUR:

External Resources