Reverse differential backup tool, over a network or locally

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This page describes and links to projects related to rdiff-backup, either because they depend on or work with rdiff-backup, or because they are competing backup programs.

1. Software written for rdiff-backup

  • Filip Gruszczyski has written a FUSE plugin named archfs, still present but unmaintained under the namehttps://github.com/rdiff-backup/rdiff-backup-fs[rdiff-backup-fs] which allows browsing through rdiff-backup increments directly as a filesystem.

  • SafeKeep for Linux is a front-end for rdiff-backup providing LVM snapshots and easy configuration.

  • EasyBackup is a graphical backup solution for Gnome which is integrated with the Nautilus file manager and uses rdiff-backup as the backend.

  • Skolelinux Backup System is a graphical backup program included in DebianEdu (formerly known as Skolelinux). Apparently it uses rdiff-backup as the backend, as described in this backup report.

  • rdiff-backup-web is a web-based frontend to rdiff-backup by David Evans. In alpha state as of Dec 2005, and still so in 2022.

  • Julien Perez has written an alternative to rsnapshot called rBackup which uses rdiff-backup as the backend instead of rsync. It uses a configuration file to backup directories, subversion repositories, and mysql databases.

  • rdiffweb is a web interface to browse and restore data from a rdiff-backup repository. Provide an overview of backup failures, send notification on errors, manage users authentication and many more features.

  • Minarca is a backup software solution built on top of rdiff-backup and rdiffweb. Minarca Stack provide a tight integration to ease the deployment and configuration of rdiff-backup.

Note
both rdiffweb and Minarca are maintained by Patrik Dufresne, active member of the rdiff-backup community.

2. Community provided scripts

There are many scripts to help rdiff-backup work in various environments available on the rdiff-backup github project.

3. Articles/books that mention rdiff-backup

Here are short descriptions of other mirroring/diffing backup programs which may compete with rdiff-backup. Of course you should consider me biased in favor of rdiff-backup, but I recognize that rdiff-backup is not the best choice for every situation, and I try to be fair in my comparisons.

rsync

the inspiration for rdiff-backup. Although rsync and rdiff-backup do not share any code, rdiff-backup uses the rsync algorithm, invented by rsync author Andrew Tridgell.

Compared to rdiff-backup, rsync is faster, so it is often the better choice when pure mirroring is required. Also rdiff-backup does not have a separate server like rsyncd (instead it relies on ssh-based networking and authentication).

However, rdiff-backup uses much less memory than rsync on large directories. Second, by itself rsync only mirrors and does not keep incremental information (but see below). Third, rsync may not preserve all the information you want to backup. For instance, if you don’t run rsync as root, you will lose all ownership information. Fourth, rdiff-backup has a number of extra features, like extended attribute and ACL suport, detailed file statistics, and SHA1 checksums.

rsync-based scripts

Because rsync does not save incremental information, it is usually inappropriate for backing up. There are several utilities which use the rsync binary, but keep old data by using rsync --link-dest option and rotating the destination directory.

Compared to rdiff-backup, these are usually faster but use more memory and disk space. They make each increment appear as a separate complete directory, which is a neat feature. On the other hand, these will usually be missing the features that are missing from rsync (see above).

Here are various programs which use the rsync strategy:

BackupPC

A great, innovative program which notices when you save many copies of the same file. Definitely take a look at this if you back up many similar systems to the same destination (e.g. many windows PCs to a central linux server).

Unison

a interesting bidirectional mirroring tool. Similar to rsync, but changes propagate in either direction. Consider this if you need to keep two directories synced and either may get edited.

Duplicity

it is a backup program that is similar to rdiff-backup in some ways. It grew out of rdiff-backup, had the same "father", is also written in Python, and uses librsync for bandwidth efficiency. However, rdiff-backup’s archives are meant to be as easy to view as possible, while duplicity’s are as hard to view as possible---they can be encrypted with GnuPG. Also, duplicity saves data in the more conventional full+forward delta format instead of rdiff-backup’s mirror+reverse deltas. Finally, rdiff-backup expects another copy of rdiff-backup on the remote destination, while duplicity can access remote locations with scp or ftp (other backends may be supported later).