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Backup is incredibly important. Obviously there's no best backup tool, but a comparison of the options would be very interesting.

  • Graphical Interface? Command line?
  • Incremental backups?
  • Automatic backups?
  • Install method: In standard repositories? PPA?
  • 4
    I would say the backup solution depends on what you are using the machine you are backing up for. A collection of work/school critical projects/code has a far different set of needs from a computer storing an ungodly amount of porn and music. On my home setup I have a small script that backs up a couple of folders I wouldn't like to lose, it does this incrementally. My work laptop gets everything backed up to a server and never has mission critical stuff left on it anyway.
    – Toby
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 21:15
  • It's not a features comparison, but this poll might help: webupd8.org/2010/05/best-linux-backup-tool-software.html Read the comments too! Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 21:19

39 Answers 39



Warning: unmaintained, last commit on 2017-02-14

From the homepage:

backup2l is a lightweight command line tool for generating, maintaining and restoring backups on a mountable file system (e. g. hard disk). The main design goals are are low maintenance effort, efficiency, transparency and robustness. In a default installation, backups are created autonomously by a cron script.

backup2l supports hierarchical differential backups with a user-specified number of levels and backups per level. With this scheme, the total number of archives that have to be stored only increases logarithmically with the number of differential backups since the last full backup. Hence, small incremental backups can be generated at short intervals while time- and space-consuming full backups are only sparsely needed.

The restore function allows to easily restore the state of the file system or arbitrary directories/files of previous points in time. The ownership and permission attributes of files and directories are correctly restored.

An integrated split-and-collect function allows to comfortably transfer all or selected archives to a set of CDs or other removable media.

All control files are stored together with the archives on the backup device, and their contents are mostly self-explaining. Hence, in the case of an emergency, a user does not only have to rely on the restore functionality of backup2l, but can - if necessary - browse the files and extract archives manually.

For deciding whether a file is new or modified, backup2l looks at its name, modification time, size, ownership and permissions. Unlike other backup tools, the i-node is not considered in order to avoid problems with non-Unix file systems like FAT32.



From the homepage:

Box Backup is an open source, completely automatic, on-line backup system. It has the following key features:

  • All backed up data is stored on the server in files on a filesystem - no tape, archive or other special devices are required.
    -The server is trusted only to make files available when they are required - all data is encrypted and can be decoded only by the original client. This makes it ideal for backing up over an untrusted network (such as the Internet), or where the server is in an uncontrolled environment.
    -A backup daemon runs on systems to be backed up, and copies encrypted data to the server when it notices changes - so backups are continuous and up-to-date (although traditional snapshot backups are possible too).
  • Only changes within files are sent to the server, just like rsync, minimising the bandwidth used between clients and server. This makes it particularly suitable for backing up between distant locations, or over the Internet.
  • It behaves like tape - old file versions and deleted files are available.
  • Old versions of files on the server are stored as changes from the current version, minimising the storage space required on the server. Files are the server are also compressed to minimise their size.
  • Choice of backup behaviour - it can be optimised for document or server backup.
  • It is designed to be easy and cheap to run a server. It has a portable implementation, and optional RAID implemented in userland for reliability without complex server setup or expensive hardware. http://www.boxbackup.org/


Another small tool which lets you do incremental backups with hardlinks was Faubackup.

From the homepage:

This Program uses a filesystem on a hard drive for incremental and full backups. All Backups can easily be accessed by standard filesystem tools (ls, find, grep, cp, ...)

Later Backups to the same filesystem will automatically be incremental, as unchanged files are only hard-linked with the existing version of the file.

It allows to create different levels of backups. From the man page:

FauBackup may be configured to keep certain backups for a long time and remove others. Have a look at traditional backup systems. You have tapes for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly backups, and store them according to your local backup policy. FauBackup can do this for you on harddisks, too. That is, it can keep some yearly, weekly, etc. backups for you and automatically remove other obsoleted backups.

Four different backup-types are recognized: daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. The first existing backup in such an interval will be considered belonging to the coresponding type. Thus, the first backup in a month (eg. 2000−12−01@06:30:00) will be a monthly backup; the first backup in 2001 will be of all four types, as January 1st, 2001 is a Monday.

The number of backups kept for each type is configureable (See faubackup.conf(5) ). If a backup doesn’t belong to such a type (eg. second backup in a day), or is too old for that type, it will be removed on faubackup --


A new one is : https://github.com/kopia/kopia

Kopia is a simple, cross-platform tool for managing encrypted backups in the cloud or locally. It provides fast, incremental backups, secure, client-side end-to-end encryption, compression and data deduplication. and can do automatic backups


after comparing kopia to restic, duplicati, duplicacy, duplicity, bup, borg ... and others, I decided to use kopia primarily , but I'm using in the same time restic, duplicati and bup , so I have 4 types of backup , if one fail then I still have 3.

Install method:

GUI: linux (portable AppImage) . windows (install exe)

command line: a simple self contained portable go exe

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sudo apt install sudo apt-get install gettext autotools-dev intltool python-crypto python-paramiko python-gtk2 python-glade2 python-notify cron

tar xfj fwbackups-VERSION.tar.bz2
cd fwbackups-VERSION
./configure --prefix=/usr
su -c "make install"
  • fwbackups version 1.43.7 dont need python-crypto python-paramiko
    – MandiYang
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 11:36


zpaq is a file archiver that grew out of the PAQ series of file compression tools. It can be used for incremental backups, and you can revert to any previous file version. By default, the add options only adds files with a newer date, or with a changed file size. By default, zpaq cuts files into blocks that are about 64 kilobytes big, and it stores only the blocks the have not yet been encountered by the program.

As a backup software, zpaq has a disadvantage - it does not allow you to delete old backups. On the other hand, once the initial backup has been done, incremental backups only need very little memory, and are very fast.

The -key option encrypts the backup with AES-256.


zpaq add backup.zpaq <path to the directory you want to back up>

Using the most extreme (and slowest) compression (default is 1):

zpaq add backup.zpaq <path to the directory you want to back up> -method 5

Using -method 0 does not compress any data. For backups, -method 1 is recommended, although -method 2 is nearly as fast.

List the files in your most recent backup

zpaq list backup.zpaq

List contents of second backup

zpaq list backup.zpaq -until 2

List all versions of all files

zpaq list backup.zpaq -all

The version is indicated by a four-digit number, starting with 0001. (Additional digits are added as needed.)

Extract the most recent backup

zpaq extract backup.zpaq <destination>

Extract the second version of your backup

zpaq extract backup.zpaq <destination> -until 2

Extract all versions of all files that have "diary" in their names

zpaq extract backup.zpaq -only "*diary*" -all

The file versions will be saved in different folders - 0001 for the first version, 0002 for the second, et cetera.



git as a backup? There are two big advantages: It uses a well-known and reliable tool, and it detects redundant data, which saves disk space.

For example, you're backing up the /home directory. On a backup drive, you keep the directories /home and /.git (the latter of which is automatically created with git init).

Each time you're backing up, you run

rsync -avPh --delete /home/ /path_to_backup_drive/home/

which creates a simple mirror of your data. But that's no incremental backup, right?

So, on the backup drive, you do

git add *; git commit -a

every time to store the changes between your previous and your most recent mirror.

To revert your mirror to a previous date, do

git checkout <identifier>

In order to save disk space once in a while, run git gc or git gc --aggressive.



rbackup tries to combine the advantages of rdiff-backup and rsnapshot.

  • 4
    This software hasn't seen an update in almost six years. Are you certain that it works on newer versions of Ubuntu? A more detailed answer would be helpful. Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 10:24

For the people that don't know, MEGA is a Dropbox alternative, with 50GB of free storage, available for Mac, Windows and Linux, created by Kim Dotcom.


Download the Mega Sync Client for Linux. Open the terminal in the directory you downloaded the deb files, then Copy/Paste the following code: sudo dpkg -i megasync-xUbuntu_14.04_amd64.deb. After that start mega from the Dash, from there one it will start up at login. Also note that the deb file also adds a ppa in your sources list. Meaning future updates, you will get via your Software Updater.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/mega
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install megasync


Here are some features that are touted by Mega:

  • Secure:

    • Your data is encrypted end to end. Nobody can intercept it while in storage or in transit.
  • Flexible:

    • Sync any folder from your PC to any folder in the cloud. Sync any number of folders in parallel.
  • Fast:

    • Take advantage of MEGA's high-powered infrastructure and multi-connection transfers.
  • Generous:

    • Store up to 50 GB for free!


excerpt from:

Which I am the author of.

As stated in other file-sharing-service answers, synchronisation is not backup (tldr: risk of synchronising corrupted/deleted files, particularly if no file-versioning available). The key to decrypt the encrypted data at Mega is secured and accessed by your account credentials (kept remotely but encrypted also), so as long as you still have login access/a user you shared the files to can login, the files won't be lost unless synchronised versions are overwritten by bad data.

  • 2
    For future references, MEGA/Dropbox/etc. is not backup solution but online storage with sync ... so that's a reason of downvotes (probably).
    – dmnc
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 14:00

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