Disaster Recovery

Five Linux backup tools that won't let you down

Whether you need a simple desktop backup tool or an enterprise-grade solution, Linux provides an assortment of viable choices.

With Linux, you will find quite a lot of backup tools, ranging from the overly simple to the overly complex. There are command-line tools, GUI tools, server-based tools, and combinations. Some of these backups are so incredibly difficult, their usefulness comes into question. So where do you find that happy medium? That, of course, depends upon your purpose and your budget.

I want to suggest what I believe are the five best Linux backup tools, which cover everything from the simple desktop to the complicated server backups. These are all free, except for one enterprise tool that requires support.

1: LuckyBackup

LuckyBackup is my go-to backup tool for the Linux desktop. It's easy to use and flexible, reliable, and it's one of the few desktop GUI entries that make it easy to set up scheduling. But don't let its ease of use fool you. LuckyBackup is powerful. Lucky can handle full backups, snapshots, sync backups, inclusion/exclusion, local or remote backups, restore, simulation, and much more. If you're looking for the ideal Linux desktop backup, LuckyBackup just might be your lucky charm.

2: DejaDup

DejaDup is another easy-to-use Linux desktop backup tool. Some users might find it overly simplified, with its single window consisting of two large buttons labeled Restore and Back Up. But there is a decent feature list behind those two buttons. DejaDup offers support for local and remote backups (even Amazon S3, RackSpace Cloud Files, and Ubuntu One), encryption, compression, incremental backups, backup schedules, and full GNOME integration. In other words, that simple interface is ideally suited for users who want a tool that can reliably back up their data without a lot of complexity.

3: Tar/rsync

These two commands are the bread and butter of most backup systems. But just because they are used by so many GUI tools, that doesn't mean you can't use them from the command line. With these two tools, and a bit of bash scripting, you can create some powerful backup solutions. Add cron to the mix, and those powerful, user-generated tools can be scheduled as flexibly as any backup tool. These tools are often the only option when dealing with a GUI-less server.

4: DD

The dd command is an ideal command-line tool for making bit-for-bit copies of a hard drive. This tool can copy a single file or an entire drive. When you need to clone a drive, and the command line is all you have available, dd is what you will need. Like the tar/rsync one-two punch, dd and rsync can do the same thing, only with an entire drive. Use this tool to create regular images of your drive in case something catastrophic happens and you need to restore a cloned copy of a drive.

5: Acronis for Linux

That's right, one of the Mac Daddies of backup has an option for the Linux server. Acronis Backup and Recover (ABR) 11 for Linux has arrived and it's pure power. A full-featured, GUI enterprise backup solution is available for those needing a seriously powerful backup solution with the inclusion of support. Granted, the cost for ABR 11 ($853 per license) will stab at your budget. But for those who rely on a company behind products, ABR 11 is the right tool for the job.

Other choices?

Five backups, five styles, and five possible solutions for your Linux backup needs. Everything from the simple, single-purpose backup to the powerful and costly enterprise-grade backup. Are there any other Linux backup solutions you would add to this list?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

15 comments
mswal2846
mswal2846

Is a very nice tool to back up files! Available for most distros, has a GUI interface (G (gui) RSYNC), will backup only those files that have changed, can be made to keep versions, and will backup any file (not restricted to non-hidden files). I use it to keep a weekly back up of my home directory. I've then used it to restore my "data" files from version to version, even distro to distro, including to/from Linux/Windoze.

jwaustin
jwaustin

I have used rsnapshot a couple of times. It's not bare metal by any means but it can keep hourly, daily, weekly and monthly deltas of your filesystem and works over the network.

ergodic
ergodic

I use dcfldd is the DoD version of dd. It is functionally the same, with the advantage of having a progress indicator.

bill.woods
bill.woods

Disclaimer: I work for Arkeia Software. Today, most businesses rely on backup applications to meet legal retention guidelines and to practice good security. Having only one backup of the accounting departments desktops and servers is not sufficient, having a historical data set is necessary in an Enterprise environment. And backing up just the files is not enough. You must backup the databases, the applications, the files and open files. Additionally you may not realize it, but you need deduplication, replication and virtualization. Arkeia has heterogeneous OS support for the business world. It also offers advanced backup features, like deduplication, replication, support for virtualization and Windows VSS backups. And best of all, Arkeia's backup server is based in Linux and Unix environments and all Linuces are supported.

hjmangalam
hjmangalam

A bit dated but here's comparison of these top tier (at the time - 2009) OSS platforms. http://moo.nac.uci.edu/~hjm/UCI_OSS_Backup_Evaluation.html And of course, trust none of the solutions offered in their backup mode; it's the restore that counts. Pay special attention to the format of the backup. Bacula uses a proprietary format, but includes all source for building a restore utility. Amanda uses only common archive formats; BackupPC uses semi-std formats. Commercial backup solutions often use opaque, proprietary formats so if you stop paying support, they own your backups.

david
david

For larger businesses there is more to a server backup than keeping a copy of files on another hard drive. You need an application that is capable of tiered backups so that you have ready access to data that needs to be restored as well as off site copies that protect you from fire or malicious intent. Most businesses also have document retention rules. A good backup system is aware of these and keeps documents available for the required amount of time BUT NOT LONGER. This solves a lot of legal problems. For a really good commercial product that will do this consider Netvault. It works cross platform and it has very sophisticated retention and backup rules as well as the ability to manage backups across a large number of servers. It's NOT cheap but worth every penny. And no, I don't work for them. I'm just a very happy customer.

Joachim Jacob
Joachim Jacob

The backup solution that has saved my live a couple of times! This combines a backup and archive, by allowing you to retrieve older versions of files (~TimeMachine, ~TimeVault). Compact backup, archive; cons: bit slow if you backup not regularly, and not yet integrated cloud support. http://backintime.le-web.org/

ThomasTri
ThomasTri

I use rsnapshot (rsnapshot.org). It uses a combination of rsync perl scripts with hard links to only copy changed files and minimizes storage space in the target location. Definitely an elegant solution.

pgit
pgit

I can do everything an enterprise could need with simple bash scripts and rsync, especially useful to transport over ssh. The main selling point is only copying files that have changed since the last processing, rather than having to copy everything. overwriting the destination whether needed or not. A lot of the freebie windows backup utilities don't do a very comprehensive job of incremental backups. I've yet to find one that will delete files from the destination if the file has been deleted from the source file system.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In terms of backup, it seems to be the industrial monster with a truly cross-platform client agent. I'd love to see it's setup (or at least Debian's setup scripts for it) gain a little sanity though. I'm no slouch to setting up some beastly software but I've yet to see a functioning Backula setup based on the .debs and any amount of config file work. On the other hand, with osX time machine and Win7 backup, maybe I really only need a *nix platform solution these days. Might be a bit of rsync scripting in my future since LuckyBackup apears to have a dependency on a GUI environment. (have to look into luckyb though to be sure).

brett.schuppener
brett.schuppener

automated directory sync (or something similar to that) -- free... it keeps target sync'd with the source... basically clones the production machine to the NAS or SAN or USB, whatever you want.

ricardoc
ricardoc

Isn't this article about Linux backup tools? Maybe I read it wrong. Heatsoft tools are only Windows compatible.

ricardoc
ricardoc

removed post (duplicated)

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