Backup options for Linux laptops

I’m evaluating backup options. This is a post to outline my requirements and wishlist, so I don’t forget them, and so I can be a little more organized in evaluating options.

I’m shopping around because my super-cheap one year intro rate on CrashPlan (from their Black Friday sale last year) will end in a few months, so I’m re-evaluating my options for backups.


  1. Linux compatibility.
  2. Encryption. At least as an advertised feature. Everything I really care about is already encrypted on-disk anyway.
  3. Multiple endpoints. An option to keep some backups on a machine I control (on my local network, for fast restores), some backups in my butt the cloud (for reliable access, and off-site-ness). Flexibility is not a big deal here – just an option to send everything to 2 places is fine.
  4.  Support for headless machines. I will back up servers. I will not run X on them. (CrashPlan, for example, is fine here. Configuring headless machines is a pain, but it’s doable.)
  5. Support for laptops. A laptop has a network connection that comes and goes, spends large amounts of time suspended, etc. Things have to work if the machine doesn’t happen to be powered up at 3am on Sunday.


  1. Easy headless configuration. Full-featured command-line interface. (CrashPlan, for example, does not have this.)
  2. Small resource footprint. No giant Java binaries.
  3. Encryption, for real. This means, likely, visible-source with a good track record of reporting vulnerabilities. CrashPlan, for example, has encryption, but the fact that they have a web interface means they can read my backups if I enter my encryption password there.

I am finding that requirements #3 and #5 rule out most minimalist options (rsync + shell scripts, etc), and requirements #1 and #4 rule out most consumer options. (In CrashPlan’s favor, I’ve already done one large [~60GB] successful restore with it.)

More on multiple endpoints: I’m looking for an option that lets me pay a monthly fee to back up to some provider’s servers (like CrashPlan and Tarsnap offer).  I’m also considering something that requires me to run a server on some virtual machine somewhere, but from what I’ve seen so far, that’s likely to be more expensive. (Lots of backup options for $15/mo, not a whole lot of virtual machines with 100GB storage for that price.) Gets complicated, though. Tarsnap, for example, would be $30/mo for 100GB.

Next Post: Backup options for Linux laptops, Part Two (Conclusions)

Previous Post: The songs in the movie "Passenger Side"