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I would like to backup my dad's home computer to a remote server. Challenges:

  • His machine runs Windows XP
  • I would like to backup his whole drive (40GB)
  • His upload bandwidth is not spectacular (384kbps)

My current plan is to install cygwin on his box, and configure rsnapshot on my remote server to access his machine on a daily basis and download updated files. I prefer this route because other Windows-based backup services make me nervous as I never know when they are not going to run.

With that said, I am not sure that cygwin/rsnapshot is the best way to approach this. Is there a better configuration I could use to accomplish remote backups in this case?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I can warmly recommend CrashPlan - this is free software (Win/Mac/linux) that lets you back up from one machine to another, over LAN or Internet. CrashPlan makes money by offering cloud storage, but the basic software is free to use.

CrashPlan will use the network when it's idle. With 40GB it will obviously take a while to get it all, but if it's not time-critical then this is definitely one of the nicest tools.

I use this on several machines in my family - across several countries!

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+1 for Crashplan. I think you can "seed" the initial backup, though I'm not sure about going PC to PC. – churnd Aug 6 '10 at 12:02
I think seeding is only meant for their paid plan - you can send them a disk and they will return it to you after copying it to their storage. I haven't seen that feature available to seed you own storage. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 6 '10 at 12:06

I also prefer this style of backup over Windows-based backup services but find it is generally only suitable for backup of documents files - not system files. There are many files (registry, mailboxes, etc.) which can be written to by Windows while you are copying them which means your copy may be out of sync or corrupted.

I do some pre-checks in the Cygwin bash script to make sure certain processes (such as e-mail programs) are not running before proceeding with the rsync.

Also, if you have physical access to the remote server, you can save a lot of time and bandwidth on the first sync by using an external HDD to copy the contents across from source to destination. I haven't used rsnapshot but this method works fine with rsync.

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I have used the mozy service before. This runs all the time in the background and updates files as they change. Obviously the first backup will take a bit of time and the space does cost but I never had any problems with it. I would recommend this as a simple solution. This will back up you system files too.

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