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I am looking for a good method to automatically clone directories from laptops that is currently connected to the local network to a server on the same local network at a regular interval in a small office environment.

The server runs Ubuntu and the laptops runs various GNU/Linux distros or OSX. There are also a few Windows laptops but somthing like cygwin could be used on them for compability.

As people come and go and takes their laptops with them there is no guarantee that a full backup could be run before the laptop is disconnected or shutdown.

My idea is something like register the existing laptops in the existing LDAP directory along with their MAC addesses, then have the server scan for laptops that are connected and start rsync (the server can ex login with ssh keys) on those that are avaliable.

The server already has rsnapshot running, backing that filesystem to a separate RAID array so there would be no need to do more than a clone of the laptops.

I am aware that this would not guarantee that the backups on the server would always be complete but if rsync is used and the unchanged files does not need to be transfered I think that the files on the server would be updated enough. Since the laptops are disconnected from the network at least once a day (and those times may vary) I don't see how I could do this in an other way, there will still be many hours every weekday to do the backup as long as the server keeps probing for the laptops.

What are your thoughts on this?

Is there a common and better solution to this problem?

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there are many open source backup solutions you can use for this. (bacula.org) is one of my favourites. –  Sc0rian Jan 8 '13 at 16:55
    
Thanks, I'll look in to Bacula –  tirithen Jan 8 '13 at 17:01

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