Best Linux backup software: 8 tools on test



LuckyBackup crams almost all the features of the tools we've covered so far into a single package, while trying to keep its interface clean and simple. Great tooltips and a comprehensive user manual help you to make sense of all that's on offer here.

LuckyBackup is probably already available from your distro's software repositories, but the Repositories page on the project's website is the place to go to find out more. Also on offer are 32- and 64-bit packaged binaries for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and others.

When you launch LuckyBackup for the first time, create a new profile. You can then store different backup sets within each profile. For every profile, you must create a task. LuckyBackup treats backing up and restoration as separate tasks.

When you create a backup task, check the Also Create A Task For Restore Purposes box. This will reverse the source and destination directories for your backup task for use with the restoration task. LuckyBackup won't be able to restore your backups if you don't use this option.

One particularly great feature you'll find here is the option to do a dry run, which is handled by using the Simulator checkbox in the main LuckyBackup interface. After a test, you can scan the Information Window (bottom panel) and the command output to review your settings and ensure all the files will go where you want.

Unfortunately, we don't have enough room to cover all the other features LuckyBackup puts at your fingertips here. You should, however, note that although the option to schedule a task isn't offered when creating a backup task, you can do this via the Schedule button on the task bar.


Version: 0.44
Price: Free/GPL

Poor performance and too many pitfalls hold this back from greatness

Rating: 7/10



Just like rsync, rdiff-backup is a command line utility to back up a directory to another location, even over a network. It's also similar to rsync in that it has inspired many graphical front-ends, and Keep is our weapon of choice for KDE.

What makes rdiff-backup unique and a great backup tool is that, in addition to keeping incremental backups, it also stores the reverse diffs. Suppose you back up a directory that contains 11 files on Thursday. When you back up this directory, the backup will also contain all the files. However, if you delete three files and back up again on the following Thursday, the backup directory will only contain eight files, because the backup reflects the current directory.

What if you now wish to recover the three files you deleted? Rdiff-backup stores the changes to a backup, whether incremental or reverse diffs, in the rdiff-backup-data directory, so you can effectively restore the three deleted files even though they aren't in the backup directory. Click the Add Directory To Backup button to begin.

If you wish to pick or leave out specific files, you can use the Inclusion/Exclusion list. Keep enables you to define a unique backup plan for individual directories. While it doesn't support profiles, click the Backup Now button in the main interface and it will present a list of all the configured directories, then ask you to select the ones you wish to back up.

When adding a backup directory, click the Use Advanced Configuration checkbox and the Configure button if you wish to describe settings such about compression, symbolic links and so on. Restoration is simple too.


Version: 0.4.0
Price: Free/GPL

Easy and fast. Offers compression and good documentation.

Rating: 8/10

The best Linux backup tool: Déjà Dup - 9/10


There's no shortage of backup tools available for Linux, but restricting ourselves to those geared towards home users and not including too many graphical front-ends for the same commands brought us to our shortlist here.

The stability of all the tools – even those that are yet to reach the big 1.0 milestone – came as a surprise to us. We think it's another factor that finally puts to rest the argument that Tar archives of directories, compressed with Gzip and transferred to a remote location with SSH or an FTP client is a decent enough backup strategy.

While functional, this approach seems archaic when faced with the convenience of a robust program that integrates well with Cron, a compression tool such as Gzip and often supports many different file storage features too.

After putting all the tools through our tests, we were half tempted to ignore ease of use as a deciding feature. That's because all the tools here, not just the top three, have very appealing and useful interfaces. Despite the barrage of features and options on offer, the tools present all the information and seek user input in a way that won't overwhelm you, no matter what level of expertise you posses.

Triumphant triumvirate

Which, however, is the best? Well, that mostly depends on your needs, but we feel that Lucky Backup, Pybackpack and Back In Time constitute the middleweights in this test. Each is just a feature or two away from being a title contender and the aspect of all of them we found most disappointing is that they don't offer compression.

Lucky Backup in particular is sitting on a virtual gold mine. With just a little love, it could become the all-time best. Its dry run feature is a great idea and we reckon all tools should offer it.

Our winner, though, stands apart from the second and third-placed Fwbackups and Keep, despite sharing quite a few features with both, because it offers encryption. Indeed, Déjà Dup is the only tool for home users that offers to encrypt files.

Sure, restoring encrypted backups with Déjà Dup can seem tricky, especially if you've created multiple encrypted backups. Panic not, though – to handle them, you simply need to change the Backup Location in the Preferences dialog to whichever backup you wish to restore. For example, if you create a backup of the Pictures directory first and then backup the Videos directory, you'll need to switch the Backup Location back to whatever you specified for the Pictures directory before you attempt to restore it.

Remember this rule and the power of encrypted backups, along with a rich selection of other features, will be at your command.