Backups can be problematic to keep running and costly to purchase or maintain. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools, including free solutions, for this specific purpose. One such free solution that is available for Windows and Linux is Areca Backup. The open source solution’s features include:

  • Archives compression
  • Archives encryption
  • Store backups on local hard drive, network drive, USB key, FTP, FTPs or SFTP server
  • Source file filters
  • Incremental, differential, and full backup support
  • Support for delta backup
  • Archives merges
  • As of date recovery
  • Transaction mechanism
  • Backup reports
  • Post backup scripts
  • Files permissions, symbolic links, and named pipes can be stored and recovered (Linux only)

Installing Areca Backup

I’ll demonstrate how to install Areca Backup on a Windows 7 platform. (Note: Areca Backup requires the Java Runtime Environment to run.)

  1. Download the Areca setup file.
  2. Double-click the downloaded setup file and walk through the easy to follow wizard.
  3. When the installation is complete, you will find a Desktops shortcut to launch Areca; double-click that icon and get ready to set up your first Areca backup. As soon as the Main Windows opens (Figure A), you’re ready to go.

Figure A

The Areca main window (Click the image to enlarge.)

Creating a backup job

Before proceeding, it’s important to know the terminology used by Areca.

  • Workspace: The configuration directory where all backup configurations are stored.
  • Group: You can create multiple backup configurations and place them within a group.
  • Target: This is the backup configuration.
  • Sources: These are the directories to be backed up.
  • Repository: This is where the backups will be stored.

To begin the process of creating your backup, you have to let Areca know your Workspace’s location. By default, Areca will create the C:\Users\USERNAME\.areca\workspace directory (USERNAME is the name of the user on the machine). To set that as your Workspace, go to Workspace | Open Workspace. From the new window (Figure B), navigate to the workspace directory and click OK.
Figure B

If the workspace directory doesn’t exist, create it before trying to configure your Workspace. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Now that Areca knows where to house your configuration files, it’s time to create a Group. To create a Group, go to Edit | New Group. When the Group Name window pops up, give the group a name and click Save. You can start adding backup Targets to this group.

To create a Target, go to Edit | New Target. From the new window (Figure C), fill out the necessary information for that particular target.
Figure C

Make sure your repository isn’t on the same drive that you are backing up from. (Click the image to enlarge.)

After you give the Target a name and select the repository, go into the Sources section and add the directories to be backed up (Figure D). To do this, go to the Sources section, click Add, locate the directory or file to be backed up, and click Save.
Figure D

If you leave the check box unchecked, Areca will not throw errors if the source file or directory do not exist. (Click the image to enlarge.)

After you set up your Sources, go back through the rest of the sections of the Target and configure as necessary. From here you can configure Compression, Encryption, Filters, pre/post processing, and transaction points, and give the Target a description. Once you’re happy with your Target configuration, click Save. To run the backup, select the backup Target from the left pane and then go to Run | Backup. From the resulting window, click Start Backup. The backup should begin running immediately.

Scheduling backups

Although Areca doesn’t have a built-in scheduler, it is possible to create a script (using the handy script builder) in conjunction with the windows scheduler to create scheduled backups. Here’s how this is done.

  1. Open Areca.
  2. Set up your backup.
  3. Go to Edit | Wizards | Generate Backup Strategy Commands.
  4. In the new window (Figure E) select a location for the script and configure the parameters (frequency of backup).
  5. Click Save.

Figure E

After you click Save, you should get a File Creation Complete popup. If you do not, there is something wrong with the setup. (Click the image to enlarge.)

The new script will be in the location you configured and will be named similar to 423043182_every_1_days. The final step is to use the built-in Windows task scheduler to have the script run when you would like the backup task to execute.