DIY: A flexible network file/directory backup solution

If your small business needs a backup and you're operating on a shoestring budget, read Jack Wallen's description of a reliable and cheap backup solution.

Backups are the one piece of the puzzle that can save your company in the event of a disaster. Without backups, if things go awry, your company could lose everything. With backups, your business could be running again without much downtime. This all depends on your choice of backup solution.

You could opt for a costly backup solution that will recover everything on a server from bare metal -- even on different hardware. Or, you could use some creativity and have a flexible network file/directory backup solution that is reliable and cheap.

Figure A illustrates how this type of backup solution will work. Figure A

You can add more than one client to this backup solution.

I decided to go with the easiest backup solution, which requires:

  • Backup server running Linux and Samba.
  • Backup software on Linux machine.
  • Shared backup directory on Linux machine.
  • Mapped directory on Windows machine to Samba Backup Share.
  • SyncToy on Windows machine for backing up necessary directories.

(You can choose different solutions for certain pieces based on your needs.)

Samba shares

Instead of taking the time to set up Samba from scratch (again, this is a very simple backup solution), I highly recommend following these steps:

1.  Install the Ubuntu 10.10 desktop edition on the server.

2.  Create a user on the Linux machine specifically for backups.

3.  Create directories in the backup users ~/ directory.

4.  Share those newly created backup directories by right-clicking the folder and selecting Sharing Options.

5.  Check the boxes for both "Allow others to create and delete files in this folder" and "Guest access" (Figure B).

6.  Install software to allow sharing if you're prompted to do so.

7.  Allow Nautilus (or Dolphin) to add the permissions for the folder automatically.

Figure B

Samba has come a long way with regards to ease of use.

Once the share is created, you should test the connection from Windows by following these steps:

1.  Open Explorer.


3.  Open the newly created backup folder.

4.  Create a test file in the shared folder.

Once the shares test out, it's time to install the backup solution on the server. I prefer luckyBackup for ease of use and reliability. Follow these steps to install luckyBackup:

1.  Open the Ubuntu Software Center.

2.  Search for "luckybackup" (no quotes).

3.  Click the Install button.

4.  Enter the sudo password for the user.

After luckyBackup is installed, you can find it in Applications > Accessories. When you start up luckyBackup, click the Add button in the main window and fill out the necessary information (Figure C). Preferably, the new Backup shares will be backed up to an external hard drive, giving the backups a layer of necessary redundancy. Figure C

It's easy to create backups in SyncToy, but you will have to use the Windows Task Schedule.

Windows client setup

First, you need to map the shared drives to Windows. Then, you'll follow these steps to set up this end of the solution:

1.  Install SyncToy.

2.  Start up SyncToy.

3.  Create a new folder pair in SyncToy (make sure the Right folder is the mapped share).

4.  Complete the SyncToy setup wizard.

5.  Run the backup for the first time.

6.  Schedule the backup using the Windows Task Scheduler.

7.  For the Program/Script to run in the Windows Scheduler, make sure to add the "-R" option to the end of the command (Figure D).

8.  Complete the Windows Task Scheduler wizard.

Figure D

Task Scheduler will prompt you to make sure the option is correct.

The last step is to repeat the mapping of shares and installation/configuration of SyncToy on all clients that need to be backed up.


Backups are always tricky solutions to design, purchase, and use -- this is especially true when an IT department or small shop doesn't have the budget for backups. Although this DIY backup solution won't get a server recovered from bare metal, it will ensure your files and folders are reliably backed up.

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....