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Linux Backup Solutions

You can group the backup software solutions for Linux into two primary categories: GUI and/or web-based solutions and command-line solutions. Both categories offer local and network backups.

GUI/Web based Backup

The first group to explore is the GUI and/or web-based solutions.


Amanda (also called Amanda Network Backup) is an open-source software backup solution that runs on a Linux host machine. At its core are command-line utilities, such as dump and tar. It provides the ability to back up data from multiple-OS platforms to a variety of media that include disk and tape, as well as to the cloud. Amanda offers several editions, including a free downloadable Community Edition and an Enterprise Edition, which includes a nice GUI interface called Zmanda Management Console. Find out more about this solution at


Bacula is also an open-source software backup solution that is released under the AGPL v3 license. It has five primary components:

which allow flexibility in how you manage your network backups, including web, GUI, and text-based interfaces. It provides the ability to back up data from multiple-OS platforms to a variety of media that include disk and tape, as well as to the cloud. However, the Bacula project doesn’t recommend that you use its product if you are not experienced at using command-line options, such as tar and dump, due to its difficulty in setup. Nevertheless, there are many tutorials on the Web. Also, an enterprise version (closed-source) is available called Bacula Systems, which offers all of the various backup types and support. Find out more about this solution at and


Bareos is a fork of the Bacula backup software. It is open-source and also released under the AGPL v3 license. The Bareos backup solution is nearly a clone of Bacula. It has the same primary components as well as the various interfaces. Bareos does have a few additional features, including the ability to install the Director component on a Windows system. In addition, the Bareos developers have created their backup solution to protect your backup data following user-specified rules. This feature may make it difficult to reuse backup tapes with Bareos, and therefore the project developers recommend using another solution for this particular situation. Find out more about this solution at


Another popular backup solution is Duplicity. It can be used from the command line or via a GUI front end called deja-dup. It typically comes preinstalled on Ubuntu, and it is the core behind the Unity Backups icon. It is primarily targeted at Linux/Unix clients, but with some work you can get it to run on a Windows machine. It provides the ability to back up data to a variety of media, as well as to the cloud. It allows you to encrypt your backups using GNU Privacy Guard (GPG). Find out more about this solution at


BackupPC is another open-source software backup solution, which is released under the GNU GPL. It can back up Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, and Windows machines, and it supports disk backup media. BackupPC has a web-based front end and uses rsync and tar at its core. Find out more about this solution at

Command Line Backup

You may not need something as comprehensive as the GUI and/or web-based software solutions that are offered. Fortunately, the command-line solutions listed here are still viable alternatives:

The beauty ogf using command line options for backup is that they can be run automatically and piped into other commands. Lets take a further look at the tar command.


The tar utility has been around for quite a while. Its name is an acronym for “tape archiver,” which shows its age. Though it’s old, it is still a very popular tool, and it is often used at the core of various software backup solutions because of its flexibility and stability.

Using the tar command, you start out with several files that need to be backed up. You end up with a copy of those files, stored in a single file, called an archive file. If the archive file is compressed using a data compression utility, the compressed archive file is called a tarball.

It may be a little confusing that the tar utility’s resulting data backup files are called archive files. However, other than that small issue, the utility is fairly straightforward in its use.

The tar utility’s resulting archive files can be stored on any filesystem media type, not just tapes. You can also move these archive files anywhere you choose, such as to the cloud, but encryption is recommended first.

One reason for the tar command’s popularity is its straightforward command-line options. For example, to create a tar archive file, you use the -c option (c as in create) as opposed to something non-inherent like -F.

An example

$ ls
Project42.dat ProjectFileA.dat ProjectFileB.dat
$ tar -Jcvf Project42.tar.xz *.dat

In the previous tar command, four options are used. The -J option is used so that a tarball will be created using xz compression. The c option is used to create the tar archive. The v option allows the filenames to be displayed as standard output as they are placed into the tar archive. Finally, the f option designates the tar archive filename, Project42.tar.xz. The *.dat parameter asks for all of the files with a .dat file extension in the current work- ing directory to be included in this archive.

For more information on the tar command, be sure to check out the man page.

Published on Tue 12 April 2016 by Dave Wilson in Linux with tag(s): linux backup