Automate data backup at the command line

Rotation Keeps Data Under Control

The rotation principle helps you keep the number of backups manageable in line with your needs. You can use the configuration file to define intervals at which backups are created and specify how many backups must be retained for each interval. The retain parameter in the /etc/rsnapshot.conf file uses time parameters such as daily or hourly followed by a number to configure both.

For example, daily retain 5 means that a daily backup launches, and the last five daily backups should be kept. In further lines, additional intervals can be defined in the same way, each with its own number of backups to be retained, making rsnapshot very flexible in terms of use.

After completing the configuration, launch a first test run by entering the following command:

rsnapshot -v <Interval>

Use the Interval parameter to specify the defined interval in the configuration file (i.e., hourly or daily). You do not have to specify source and target directories, because rsnapshot takes this information from the configuration file.

Because rsnapshot does not store its backups in archives or its own formats, the data is directly accessible and can be easily copied back for recovery. After a successful test run, you can set up the required cron jobs.


The backup solutions explored here are all reliable and stable. They are suitable for backing up both local systems and servers. However, if you want to outsource your backup archives into the cloud, most programs will not be appropriate because of their lack of encryption support. In a public cloud, you will not want to store your backups without encryption.

Additionally, some candidates have poor to simply catastrophic documentation. In part, the existing description does not list function parameters or sample applications, and the man pages are terse 10-liners. Consequently, developers should not expect their programs to be widely accepted by users whose time and patience are limited.

These backup solutions, most of which are developed for Unix-style operating systems, also exhibit some design weaknesses, in that they may not always work in heterogeneous environments. For example, hard links cannot be used on all platforms or with all filesystems. For a tool like rsnapshot, this factor limits the applications to Linux and related systems.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Charly's Column: Backup2l

    At his cozy home, sys admin Charly has always used rsnapshot to back up his data. Although things will be staying this way for server backups, he has found something more manageable for backing up the Kühnast family's desktop PCs.

  • Rotating Backup with rsync
  • Admin Workshop: Backups with Rsync

    It is often inefficient to fire up a tape drive whenever you need to back up files or restore a backup. The Rsync tool pushes critical files to a second computer, where you can access them easily.

  • Admin Workshop: Backups

    Data always seems to get lost at exactly the wrong moment, but the right backup strategy can help you restore those missing files.

  • Areca Backup

    Sometimes you just need to back up a few directories on a computer, not administer a distributed installation or an array of disks. Areca Backup gives you hassle-free backups of individual hard drives.

comments powered by Disqus

Direct Download

Read full article as PDF:

Price $2.95