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A friend was asking about setting up backups, and I don't want to tell him "just use rsync". I'd like a tool with a simple GUI, and automated backups. Advanced features aren't really necessary. What are some good choices?

Edit: A lot of people seem to be recommending Dropbox-esque tools. While Dropbox is great, it isn't really the sort of thing he's looking for. He wants to be able to restore his system if something goes horribly wrong. Dropbox is better for keeping track of documents--I'm looking for something closer to Apple's Time Machine. Also, he's on dial-up, so online solutions are a no-go.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I recently wondered about the same thing and discovered these through a Google search.

Currently I'm using Back in Time but I find it a little quirky and haven't tried doing a full restore yet. I haven't tried TimeVault yet so I can't really say anything about it. Flyback looked promising but I wasn't able to get it to work with a network share. Apparently it's only prepared to use external hard drives via USB or Firewire for backup. From the screenshots it looks an awful lot like Apple's Time Machine.

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You should always verify the full restore feature. If it doesn't work, there is no point in backing up anything. Luckily for you, I can certify that Back In Time restore actually works :) BTW, I can't say I had positive experience with Flyback and TimeVault (can't remember exactly but it was either because of bugs or lack of activity). – Pascal Thivent Dec 19 '09 at 22:11
For a home setup, all I really have to verify is that the data is there. Everything else is reasonably replaceable. (Currently, I'm backing up manually with a USB drive, and just copying files.) – David Thornley Dec 19 '09 at 23:10
I'm choosing Back in Time for now, I'll update if there are any problems. – Matthew Pirocchi Dec 20 '09 at 18:06

I have dropbox installed on all my machines, it's a cross-platform synching tool that comes with 2GB free storage which you can use to back up all your essential files. The files are automatically synched to other machines. It is fast and cross-platform. You can buy additional space or get free space by referring other users.

Try dropbox today: dropbox

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I use Dropbox too and love it. This isn't really the sort of thing he's looking for, though. He wants to be able to restore his system if something goes horribly wrong. Dropbox is better for keeping track of documents. – Matthew Pirocchi Dec 19 '09 at 19:49

This is a tough question (typically because of the too much choice paradox, see the BackupYourSystem wiki page) but, for a non technical user, I'd definitely recommend Déjà Dup:

Déjà Dup (day-ja-doop) is a simple backup tool. It hides the complexity of doing backups the Right Way (encrypted, off-site, and regular) and uses duplicity as the backend.

It really a nice application to backup your home folder (not a full system) the right way, as they say. You may want to browse the maintainer's blog to learn a bit more about it.

Back in Time would be my second choice if you need something more "elaborated" (nice UI, pretty easy to configure, smart remove strategy). But a non technical user won't be able to do the setup himself without assistance for a full system backup IMHO.

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The simplest backup solution in my experience is surely SimpleBackup, which does almost everything you need by default: but, if you like to change something, it has a nice and easy GUI, with configurations that could satisfy the technician too!

Hope that helps,


EDIT: What I forgot! Never heard about Ubuntu One? It's a free backup service from Canonical, and it is completely integrated with Ubuntu (assuming you're running at least Jaunty Jackalope/9.04 release. It gave you 2GB for free, and you can upgrade for a monthly fee up to 50 GB. That is definitely a good deal! (I'm using the free service, of course...I'm out of money).

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Oh, and of course it runs under Ubuntu: I have it installed on my Ubuntu 9.04 box, and the backups are scheduled to be saved everyday inside an USB drive, that is not usually mounted. Great piece of software, really! (I'm not paid to say such things, though :D ) – dag729 Dec 19 '09 at 20:57

Backerupper is what I like - on my Ubuntu machine, I have it set up to use this.

Backerupper is a simple GUI utility program to make scheduled backups of specified directories over a network. It is not intended for full system backup, but just to make archive copies of a user’s personal data.

Here is a link to an article about it

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SpiderOak. It does online encrypted backup with zero-knownledge. It has a nice graphical user interface, works on Windows, Mac and Linux (and smoothly with Ubuntu from my experience) and is free up to 2GB, and $10/100GB/month afterwards.

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