Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've not run backups for the past dont't remember anymore years for my personal stuff until waking up lately and realising contrary to my prior belief: Actually. I care! :)

Now I have a central data server at home where I want to attach an external media to, to which I want to save backups of my most important stuff, like years of self-written scripts, database dumps, you name it.

I've tinkered with rsync+ssh over the last two years, also tried tar over ssh, but don't know the simplest and most easy to maintain way to do it yet. Heres my workload:

  1. A typical LAMP-Server (<5GB Data) which I'd like to backup fully so lots of small files connected via 10Mbit
  2. My personal stuff (<750GB Data) from a Mac connected via GE
  3. My passwords in an encrypted container (100Mb) from OpenBSD connected via serial-PPP
  4. My E-Mail from the last ten years (<25GB) as Maildir which I need to keep in readable format
  5. Some archives (tar.*) which I need to backup only once and keep in readable format

(Deleted my ideas, as I'm here for suggestions)

What I need:
1. Use an ssh-tunnel for data transfer
2. Be quick with lots of small files
3. Keep revisions
4. Be sure the data I save is not corrupted
5. Intelligent resume functions and be able to deal with network congestion :)
6. Compressed and optionally encrypted storage
7. Be able to extract data from backup easily (filesystem like usage would be nice)

How would and with what software would you backup this stuff?

Hints to tools that can help solve only part of my problem (like encryption) also greatly appreciated.


share|improve this question

I use True Crypt to encrypt sensitive files. Once you create an encrypted volume, you can mount it and write files to it like any other disk. Then unmount it, compress if desired, and back it up. It helps if you don't have a huge amount of data to encrypt (my volume is only 100MB, which is very manageable, and I only use about 5% of that at the moment).

For versioning I use subversion. I don't know if you're looking for some kind of versioning filesystem, but I believe those exist as well (haven't used any myself). I use subversion within my TrueCrypt volume to keep versions of financial documents.

share|improve this answer
Just a note on compressing encrypted volumes (which happens, happily, to be on SF) – msanford Jun 27 '10 at 22:29
@msanford, good point. I guess in my mind I was thinking the unused part would be zeroes, but that wouldn't even be true if it weren't encrypted. – Brian Jun 28 '10 at 1:06
Quite right, but a good number of people don't realize this either: an acceptable definition of a perfectly-encrypted stream is that it is indistinguishable from a random stream (hence the need for a random entropy pool for encryption). – msanford Jun 28 '10 at 13:12

I'm using BackupPC. It has most of the features you need.

  • It can copy via ssh
  • It's fast (uses rsync)
  • Keeps revisions - kind of - since it keeps the previous backups as well.
  • Support compression.
  • Has a web interface for restoring backups and for general maintenance. A (slightly experimental) FUSE interface is available as well if you want to browse your backups using shell.
share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .