Making secure remote backups with Rsync

    Date04 Nov 2004
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Backups are more important than ever these days, as our digital information collections expand. Many Linux users know rsync as a file transfer utility, but rsync can also be an efficient tool for automating remote backups of your Linux, Windows, and even Mac OS X systems. . . . In an earlier article,I explained how to use rsync to make local backups of a Linux system. Remote backups, where you store your backed up data on a separate machine, further promote data safety by separating information both physically and geographically.

    First steps

    To perform secure remote backups, you must have rsync and SSH installed on both your local and your target remote machine. Rsync can use SSH as a secure transport agent.

    Make sure rsync is installed by opening a terminal session and typing rsync --version on each machine. You should see a message like rsync version 2.X.X protocol version X. If you receive "command not found" or a similar message, you'll need to download and install rsync. Use your GNU/Linux distribution's package management system to do this, or download and install the source from the rsync Web site. If you're running Microsoft Windows I recommend installing cwRsync. Mac OS X comes with rsync, but if you want to try a different version, check out RsyncX.

    SSH is likely to already be installed on your Mac OS X and GNU/Linux systems, while the Windows port of rsync, cwRsync, includes the key SSH programs. I'm going to assume you're running Linux or OS X on the remote machine where the backup is to be stored. Make sure your remote machine has Secure Shell Daemon (sshd) running and that the users of both machines have proper permissions to execute a backup.

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