Backup and disaster recovery solutions for Linux

When Mandriva’s drakbackup became too buggy for my needs, I investigated alternative backup solutions. Here are my search criteria, and what I found.

The ideal backup solution for me would:

  • Be useful both for restoring individual files and for disaster recovery
  • Be easy for an end-user to restore individual files without assistance
  • Be capable of running on slow or headless hardware
  • Have a large, helpful user community
  • Be open source and commonly available in distributions’ repositories


  • For standalone workstations: The online solution SpiderOak is usually ideal. When a local solution is required, however, backintime is my choice.
  • For enterprise backup: bacula, though amanda, backupPC, and mondo are also strong contenders.
  • For cloning partitions and devices: clonezilla.

The following is not an exhaustive list of all that is available, but only what I’ve found. Nor have I tried everything listed here.

afbackup: Client/server. GUI. Unclear if it can burn to DVD. Weak documentation.

amanda: Enterprise class. More on amanda here. See also zmanda, the commercial version.

areca: GUI; Java. Enterprise class.

arkeia: Commercial; enterprise class.

backerupper: Only zips; doesn’t burn to DVD or rsync or manage the backups.

backintime: My choice for locally backing up a standalone workstation. GUI. Uses rsync. Actively developed, active user forum. Based on flyback. Easy to back up and restore; is appropriate for end users. Can back up to multiple USB sticks.

backup-manager: Terminal based; can back up MySQL DBs; can burn to DVD.

backup21: Terminal based.

backupninja: Terminal based. Just a framework, not a complete solution.

backuponcd: Terminal based.

backupPC: LAMP based GUI; can back up to DVD. Enterprise class. Not trivial to set up. Often recommended.

bacula: Best of breed and my choice for enterprise use. Client/server. Not trivial to set up and not appropriate for some end users to manage themselves.

box backup: Terminal based, remote.

cdbackup: Dead project. Terminal based; has Webmin interface.

cedar-backup: Terminal based; can burn to DVD.

clonezilla: Best of breed cloning tool. Ncurses-based. Live CD for standalone workstations (illustrated how-tos here and here) and server version for LAN use. Helpful support forums.

dkopp: Has both a GUI and a scripting language for cron jobs. Burns to DVD. Helpful developer.

flyback: Unfinished and dormant. GUI. Uses rsync. Consider backintime instead.

fog: Linux-based imaging solution for Windows workstations on a LAN.

fwbackups: GUI.

ibackup: Terminal based, backs up /etc only.


kdar: Can burn to DVDs.

keep: Frontend to rdiff-backup.

luckybackup: Uses rsync.

mondo: Enterprise class. Good for both backup and disaster recovery. Can backup to DVD. No full GUI; uses ncurses or similar.

partimage: Partition imaging utility.

ping: Live CD “like Symantec Ghost, but has even better features”.

rdiff-backup: Mirror with diffs.

rdup: Just a framework, not a complete solution.

reoback: Tagline “designed to be simple”.

sbackup (aka Simple Backup Solution, SBS): Beta and seems to be rough. Uses rsync. GUI.

timevault: Uses rsync.

ukopp: Uses rsync. GUI. No scripting, so cannot use with cron. Helpful developer. Generic RPM available.

21 of the Best Free Linux Backup Software

Most backup solutions do not themselves back up databases, but they can back up the .sql files produced by tools such as phpMyAdmin. Don’t forget to set up scheduled automatic backups of your databases.


About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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2 Responses to Backup and disaster recovery solutions for Linux

  1. Pingback: Security and stability tuning on Linux | A maze of twisty little passages

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