Recommended Backup Utilities

Linode Staff


I have been reviewing a number of Linux backup options and I am having trouble choosing one that I can use for my fleet of servers, some physical, some on cloud services like Linode and Hetzner, and some VMs. I have tried a few and have been mostly disappointed. I figured I'd reach out for just some general advice since you guys seem to know what you're doing in this regard.

I do have Linode backup enabled for my Linode machine, but I have also tried these utilities:

  • Borg
  • Duplicity
  • Manual rsync
  • Clonezilla
  • Gnome Backup

I've found Borg and Duplicity to be a bit complex for the task, which lowers my confidence that I am doing it correctly. I am open to trying again, but maybe other solutions are better. Manual rsync works fine, but doesn't scale well to multiple servers without some other tool like Ansible to generalize the setup. Clonezilla seemed great until I realized that it only seems to be able to restore images to drives of the same size. Great for archival backup, but if I need to rebuild a server from an image, I need to make sure all of the storage parameters are the same or else Clonezilla just refuses to do anything. Gnome backup uses duplicity, which is nice, but it trips up when trying to backup an entire system if you are not running as root. Since running the entire gnome desktop as root is not ideal just for backups, this solutions falls at the first hurdle when trying to backup more than just a home folder for a single user.

I am looking into evaluating rsnapshot, Backupninja, Bacula, and Amanda, but not sure what route I should go. What would you guys as system admins recommend for backup, and what does Linode actually use for the automated backups of Nodes activated by a user like myself?

3 Replies

The Linode Backup service is our proprietary backup solution. It operates on a file-level and makes using of snapshots. It doesn't require runtime of your Linode and is done seamlessly on our backend. No client-side tool is required, and doesn't impact your Linode IO.

This works perfectly for my needs, but each backup solution seems to be tailored to different uses, and its always a good idea to have multiple solutions in place, especially when your data is mission critical. I'll let those with experience using alternate backup solutions comment on what they use or recommend.

I found Bacula to be very complex… useful if you're using a library with a tape changer, etc. And worst, it's a real pain to find what you want and restore it.

My previous employer switched from Bacula and a tape library to BackupPC backing up to a hard disk (with an external rsync of the disk's most recent images to a remote backup). As far as I know, they're still using it after 8 years.

BackupPC is fair easy to understand and use

  • all web-GUI driven, and one of the few that doesn't drive me crazy for not having command-line tools
  • does file-level de-duplication
  • doesn't have schedules (you designate periods when backups are allowed, and how often each client should be backed up, how many backups are allowed to run at a time, then BPC does its own scheduling)
  • uses rsync as its underlying transport
  • works very well for devices that are not always on the network (laptops)

Outside of work, I have used BackupPC for my personal backups for at least seven or eight years. I back up local workstations, servers and multiple Linodes to a local disk.

One of the things I love about BackupPC is how easy it is to navigate a file tree and retrieve backups of individual files from specific dates.

Thanks, I'll take a look at BackupPC. I stumbled across that one along with Urbackup yesterday, they both look similar. If you've used it for eight years, it must be doing something right. :)


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