Most of us has experienced loss of valuable files and data at some point in time when a local storage system fails. We know the importance of backing up our files and data but not many actually do have or implement a proper backup solution.

Some good backup strategies are to create a consistent and automatic backup, and to store the backup in a remote location.

This could be achieved in Linux by creating a system to automatically back up to a remote SSH server using rsync.

Steps to automatically backup to remote server using SSH and rsync:

  1. Configure passwordless SSH login from your local machine to the remote backup server.
  2. Create a directory on the remote server as a backup target.
    [email protected]:$ mkdir -p ~/backup_folder/folder_01
  3. Make sure the connecting SSH user has full access to the directory on the remote backup server.
    [email protected]:$ chmod -R 777 ~/backup_folder/folder_01
  4. Manually run your backup script on your local machine to test if backup operation is successful.
    [email protected]:$ rsync -av --delete /path/to/folder_01/ [email protected]:backup_folder/folder_01

    Sample of a more complete script for automated backup.
    TARGET="[email protected]:~/backup_folder"
    for i in folder_01 folder_02 folder_03; do
    	rsync -av --delete $i/ $TARGET/$i;
  5. Check on the remote server if the files were successfully backed.
    [email protected]:$ ls -l ~/backup_folder/folder_01
  6. Open crontab editor on the local machine.
    [email protected]:$ crontab -e
  7. Configure cron on your local machine to automatically run your backup script at a set time.
    # Run backup command every day on midnight, sending the logs to a file.
    0 0 * * * rsync -av --delete /path/to/folder_01/ [email protected]:backup_folder/folder_01 >>~/.backup.log 2>&1 
  8. Save and exit crontab editor.
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