Backup programs

Submitted by peter on Thu, 07/29/2021 - 21:00

Here are some backup programs I used or tried to use or rejected because they do not fit my requirements. Here are the good, the difficult, and the incomplete.

I backup several computers, notebooks and desktop workstations, running Linux and Windows 10. I need fill disk image backups plus file backups for data partitions. I could run backups over a network and do not want to limit my backups to the point of requiring a network. All the machines have decent USB speed for backup direct to external disk.

I excluded some "backup" software because it is not designed for backups and some because it is no longer maintained, even if it continues to work.

Clonezilla

Clonezilla is free, open source, and reliable. Clonezilla will backup a disk or a disk partition. You can boot Clonezilla direct from a DVD or USB stick to work on unbootable computers.

Clonezilla is a 305 MB download from http://clonezilla.org/. You then load the .iso onto a USB stick. In Linux Mint, you just right click the downloaded file and select Make bootable USB stick.

Disk backup

Clonezilla is used to copy computer disks for replication. Configure a desktop, notebook, or server computer then copy the disk drive for use in other computers. The same copy process can be used for backup.

The full disk backup can also be used in another computer as a hot backup machine. The only requirement is a similar hardware configuration or the installation of the right hardware drivers

The disk backup can be restored to any disk the same size or larger. The backup and restore can include the boot details, giving you a working bootable system after hardware repair.

If you restore to different hardware, you might have to load drivers for some new device. Gparted and equivalents can alter the partition sizes for larger disks.

in the primary machine to run on the backup.

Partition backup

Your backups can also include a partition backup. Backup a partition containing data files and test it on another computer. So long as you use a compatible file system, any partition backup can be accessed on any other machine in an emergency.

All my Linux machines use the best file system, Ext4, which is not recognised by Windows. Ext4 is not a problem as I have more than one Linux machine to access the partition backups. For Windows, we have to use NTFS. Linux is happy with NTFS. I can access partition backups from Windows on any machine.

Disk and partition backups are slow when compared to incremental backups. For large disks, after an initial backup with Clonezilla, you would look at weekly or daily data partition backups using something else, something incremental. When using Ext4, you would look at a modern snapshot backup made possible by Ext4.

Redo Rescue

Redo Rescue is a 540 MB download from http://redorescue.com/. You then load the .iso onto a USB stick. In Linux Mint, you just right click the downloaded file and select Make bootable USB stick.

The result is similar to Clonezilla with a better user interface. There are some extra utilities included, Gparted being the main one, and some features missing. I do not have a side by side list. The comparison would be to using Clonezilla with a Linux Mint live boot stick as the Linux Mint contains Gparted.

Rescuezilla

Rescuezilla, https://rescuezilla.com/, is a copy of an early Redo Rescue that is independently developed. The download is 904 MB instead of 540. You get part of Ubuntu with stuff added. There is a warning about a problem with the download and a recommendation to use one with an older version of Ubuntu, an 805 MB download. I chose the smaller reliable download.

That big download would have to contain some magic benefits compared to Redo Rescue.

Rsync

Rsync copies files and directories. The first rsync copies everything. The second rsync copies only changed files. There are many backup programs running rsync in the background. There are versions of rsync for different operating systems.

rsync is a command line tool which means decoding the documentation and working through the options. When you work out what works, copy the command line into a text file so you do not make a mistake the next time you type in the command.

UrBackup

UrBackup is a client server complication and has heaps of flexibility. You would look at UrBackup when you have several machines and most are still on Windows.

The server can be on Linux or Windows with Windows an option for organisations still in the early days of converting from Windows to something more modern. The client runs on Windows, Linux, and lots of other operating systems. The are options for file and "image" backups.

Running an image backup from within a client machine is difficult and should be tested carefully. Check exactly how you would perform a recovery.


 

Needs a network


 

Amanda

Amanda is three decades old and originally used magnetic tape. You would look at Bacula as a more modern network oriented backup.

BackupPC

BackupPC is free and open but runs only on a server. You do not need a client on the machine you are backing up, which means you need to have an open share of the partition across the network, something you would do only on a closed corporate network.

Bacula

Bacula is a great produce when you have many computers connected by a fast network. Bacula is overkill for my need and it still needs Clonezilla for that first full disk image.

BURP

BURP, BackUp and Restore Program, is designed to be a simpler version of Bacula with some modern enhancements. The server runs on Linux. There are clients for Windows and Linux.

Only online


 

Duplicati

Duplicati is free and open source but only backs up to line storage and appears to not have a disk imaging option. When you run into all the problems of recovery from online, you realise why you need something else, something local.

Rclone

Rclone works only for backups to a cloud. You are locked out of recovery when you do not have access to whatever cloud you chose and will have to wait forever during network peaks. You still need Clonezilla for that full disk image. Get your local backup working first.

Works only on Linux

BorgBackup

BorgBackup does not work on Windows. I did not test BorkBackup on Linux.

Backintime

Backintime is one of the tweo backups you run regularly on Linux. Clonezilla creates your original disk image. Timeshift backs up your system files after each major system update, like a Linux kernel update. Backintime backs up your user data. Backintime requires the Ext4 file system to create magic snapshots containing every file without taking up space for every file.

Boxbackup

Boxbackup is a client server backup across a network but has only a Linux client.

dd

dd is a command line program you can use for backup including a lot of the things you can do with Clonezilla. The drawbacks? You have to boot an operating system that has dd. You have to learn to use the command line options for dd. Clonezilla has most of the options available in a primitive but useful GUI.

Timeshift

Timeshift is a system level file backup using the Ext4 file system to store complete snapshots without duplication. Timeshift and Backintime make an excellent combination for Linux after the system is created. You can use Clonezilla during the creation or as a one off backup after the initial creation.

As an alternative to Clonezilla, you run Timeshift to a good quality USB flash memory stick and store the external backup along with the original Linux live installation stick. For recovery from a dead disk, you reinstall Linux from the original installation media then run Timeshift to recover all the updates and configuration changes.

starting from a fresh install will help if the disk configuration is completely different.

Works only on Windows

Cobian Backup

Cobian Backup was open source then changed to closed source. Cobian Backup runs only on Microsoft Windows. Both "closed source" and "Windows only" are good reasons to not use Cobian Backup.

Cobian Backup had good reviews and was one of the best fits for a specific need on Windows. I tested the open source Cobian Backup in 2010. There was only the odd fault. I then tested the new version 9 but it was closed source and offered little advantage. Here is main comment about version 9 from 2010:

"Cobian backup 9 adds several features including 7-zip compression but is no longer open source."

There is now a final version 11 with extra features. The author is working on a new product to replace the current software.

EaseUS Todo Backup Free

EaseUS Todo Backup has a free version and a commercial version. They are not open source. They do not work on Linux. The free version is limited to file backup. The commercial version sounds like a free backup tool plus Clonzilla. Why would you pay for something just to get the same as Clonezilla?

FBackup

FBackup is is a free version of Backup4all. Both are limited to Windows. They need Clonezilla for a full disk image. There is no reason to use FBackup for anything.

Macrium Reflect

Macrium Reflect is an alternative to Clonezilla that works only on Windows. Given that Clonezilla works everywhere, I do not see a use for Macrium Reflect.

Paragon Backup & Recovery Community Edition

Paragon Backup & Recovery Community Edition is another backup of no real use. It does not tun on Linux. You have to add Clonezilla or by the commercial version.

Other

AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper has a free version but not an open version. You will need the expensive Pro version to perform a full backup. I cannot see any use for the free version. The expensive version includes "lifetime" support and updates but only for the original computer, not for any upgrade or replacement. The Pro lifetime offer should be for you and whatever computer or computrs you use.

Areca Backup

Areca Backup is overkill for backing up your personal computer plus it lacks some basics. Areca backs up files, not partitions or disks. Areca has what looks like millions of options and many will recreate backups you cannot use unless you have a working system that does not need a restore. Areca might be useful along side partition and disk level backups of some other sort.

Areca is written in Java, strike one, and has lots of small updates. If you use any of the fancy backup options for saving space or encryption, you would have to perform major recovery tests for every software update.

Bareos

Bareos, Backup Archiving Recovery Open Sourced, is a network backup tool where you place a backup client on your computer and backup to a server. This could be useful if you have several machines and a spare one for the backup server. I had exactly that setup until I decommissioned an old machine.

Bareos has a "director" that can run on one machine with access via the command line or a Web interface. You can have multiple backup servers to create multiple backups in case one server fails. You can create wildly complicated backups that might miss critical files, might mot be accessible when you need to restore, but you cannot create a whole disk image for a machine. You still need something like Clonezilla.

Kup

Kup is a backup option if you use the KDE desktop. There appears to be limited documentation and is nothing special outside of the KDE environment.

Luckybackup

Luckybackup is a graphical application that runs rsync in the background. Luckybackup was popular but is not maintained. I could not make Luckbackup do what was required and used rsync direct.

MondoRescue

MondoRescue is an alternative to Clonezilla and has some user interface improvements. Other aspects of MondoRescue appear to be more difficult.

There are more options for things like file backup with compression. Before USB 3 and SSDs, compression might have been useful on machines with fast processors. All my machines have storage and USB speeds comparable with their processor speed, making the use of compression less important. You also have to remember that most compressible files are already compressed. Open document files are already compressed. Most image formats are compressed. For my backups, compression would just be a speed bump slowing down scans of backups.

rdiff-backup

rdiff-backup is similar to Backintime and a bunch of other Linux backups using rsync for file copying in the background.

Syncthing

Syncthing synchronises two machines to give you a hot backup. Syncthing can work across Linux, Windows and other operating systems. A sync across two different operating systems would provide a hot backup only if all the relevant applications can run on both operating systems without any sort of file conversion.

Conclusion

Clonezilla is a great starting point for desktop and notebook backup plus some configuration changes and replication to new/other machines. Look at Redo Rescue and Rescuezilla for better user interfaces. Add something else for easier ongoing backups.

For pure Linux desktops, laptops, and notebooks, the Timeshift and Backintime combination.

For Windows, use Clonezilla then experiment with the various free but not open Windows options.

For large groups of computers, use Clonezilla, or equivalent, for replication across similar computers then a network backup, like Bacula, to a Linux server.