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I am testing out backuppc, which works great so far backing up windows clients on a LAN via SMB (no backup client/agent required).

However I have quite a few laptops and desktops that are in various remote locations - some of which move around.

I need some way to have that remote computer create an outgoing connection for backup purposes (Windows XP/7).

I know backuppc supports smb, rsync and 'tar', but I believe these are all connections going from the server TO the client.

SO, I either need a way to vpn the client on a timed basis, or it would be a lot better if the client could some how connect to the server (ssh?) and initiate it's own backup somehow (rsync?).

Of course this all needs to be pre-installed by me and require no maintenance by the end user, no dialogs on their side.

What do you think?

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You don't necessarily need to have the computers establish a VPN connection on a timed basis. BackupPC will to backups on laptops and such whenever they are reachable. Partially, completed backups will be finished next time it connects.

Initial backups require transferring all the files being backed up. These will be the longest backups. Once that is done all subsequent backups will only require the differences from the last backup to be transferred. About 1% of the files will be transferred to validate the contents on the server.

You can use the alias to provide an alternate address to contact the fixed PCs at remote locations. You can also override the commands used to determine if a PC is reachable on a client by client basis. You can also run commands before and after a backup. This should give you lots of flexibility to handle remote PCs with fixed.

Ideally, you want the laptops to be reachable from time to time. However, if you can script a post to the web interface, the laptops should be able to trigger their own backups whenever they connect.

It may be better to install VPN software on the laptops and let BackupPC pickup the laptops when they are available. BackupPC will email the user specified in the host's user column if the backup gets too old.

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What do you mean by "the alias" – Scott Szretter Mar 13 '11 at 22:48
@Scott: When you are editing the hosts configuration, the first screen is BackupSettings, and its first field is ClientNameAlias. That is "the alias". – BillThor Mar 13 '11 at 23:02

Ummm, I dont know if this will help you but in my case I have an important file "server" at a remote location stuck behind a slow business class connection. (This "server" is a Windows box) I installed synctoy and setup a few scheduled tasks to: 1. map a drive, 2. kick off the synch 3. disconnect the drive. I dont know if that will be a perfect solution for your case though becuase a lot of file changes or a slow/unreliable connection could make the sync a real pain. In my case the initial sync took over 60 hours. Subsequent syncs have been less that 30 minutes.

Another possibility would be to use an online backup service. Setup a master account and user accounts. Have the user account installed on the local machine and use a sync option through the online backup software. Your master account could monitor the backup jobs.

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I am currently using CrashPlan to back up the backuppc directories to a remote (over the internet) machine. It is working well, in fact better than I expected. I believe CrashPlan is compressing the data before it sends it and it also has it's own de-dup and delta logic, so even though the initial backup took several days, it is going great now keeping the off-site backup up to date.

so now theoretically (need to test it) if I needed to do a full restore of the backuppc machine, I would setup a new machine, install CrashPlan and do a restore on to that machine. I would of course do this locally.

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I don't understand how this (making another remote copy of the backuppc directories, which I assume means the server pool etc, with a different backup application) relates to your original question (how to back up remote clients which only connect intermittently) – nealmcb Jun 28 '12 at 21:58
Sorry, you are correct, I was answering the wrong question. I did however end up using crash plan, instead of backuppc for remote laptop type machines. – Scott Szretter Jul 4 '12 at 2:26

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