There are several backup utilities available for Linux. Some of them are based on bash scripts and others are properly crafted open-source software. The problem comes when nothing is available in a default installation. I am a Debian user and I have some preferences to use certain backup utilities to keep my data safe. In this guide, I will help you to figure out which backup tool is the best for Linux. Let it be whatever distribution, we are looking for software with a graphical user interface.
Tool # 1. Grsync
Grsync is primarily based on rsync, which is a command-line utility to perform a variety of backups. It has a simple user interface and beneath lies the full power of Rsync.
Grsync carries all the functionalities of any backup utility and this is the reason it is our first choice for any Linux distribution. Grsync can produce log files and save them externally. Log files can be used if anything goes wrong. It can be minimized to the system tray and run in the background. The greatest advantage Grsync carries is to pause the backup process.
Install Grsync from available repositories. In the case of Ubuntu, the command will be as following
$ sudo apt install grsync
Tool # 2. Duplicity
Duplicity is an exceptional backup tool. It can backup folders and files with differences only. What does that mean? It is like if you have taken a backup already then Duplicity will simply backup changed files and folders in the future. It does not take new full backups which saves enormous time for the users.
Duplicity is a command-line tool and does not come with any graphical user interface. It is available on all major distributions’ repositories.
One of the greatest pros of Duplicity is that it also includes the rdiffdir utility. Rdiffdir is an extension of rdiff to directories which produces signatures of directories as well as files. Duplicity uses GPG keys. This way a user can make sure that files are always safe.
The greatest drawback of Duplicity is that it takes a lot of /temp/ space sometimes. This is an unavoidable drawback.
You need to run the following command to make a Duplicity backup:
$ duplicity ~/Documents . ~/home/user/backup
This will create a backup of the Documents directory to the backup folder in the user directory.
Duplicity can be downloaded from its website: http://duplicity.nongnu.org/docs.html
Tool # 3. Clonezilla
Clonezilla is both backup software and a recovery tool. It can save and restore only used blocks on the hard disk. Clonezilla is used both for home computers and enterprise computers. It can create backup and recover 40-plus computers in one session.
Clonezilla is developed by NCHC Free Software Labs, Taiwan. It supports almost all of the file systems. The software is cross-platform, meaning it can run on whatever operating system you are using. It supports both MBR and GPT partition formats. Disk encryption is also supported and can be used easily. This is the reason we consider it a clear winner among all three tools.
Clonezilla is available on their website. https://clonezilla.org/downloads.php
Tool # 4. Timeshift
Timeshift is a desktop utility it doesn’t do much for servers. However, it gives you superpowers to get a lot of things done. It can perform backups of different file systems. It will also create its BTRFS file system.
Install Timeshift from the available repository of your distribution.
In the case of Ubuntu use the following command to install Timeshift.
$ sudo apt install timeshift
Tool # 5. UrBackup
UrBackup is our last choice on this list. UrBackup does a great job when installed on Network. It is available for a variety of distributions. It syncs data from one network to another and provides exceptional backup service. It can be downloaded from the following link or you can look into the repositories to install it.
Download UrBackup from here https://www.urbackup.org/download.html PPAs are available for Ubuntu.
Detailed instructions for installing urBackup on Ubuntu 20.04 can be found here.
In this guide, we examined 5 different backup tools. In my honest opinion, Clonezilla is exceptional regarding critical systems which cannot afford a single minute of downtime. In other cases, you can use Grsync or Duplicity depending on your needs.