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I have a Windows 7 box that I want to back up to an Ubuntu machine.

I have mounted a Windows share on the Ubuntu box (using CIFS/Samba), and I want to use a cron job to rsync what's on the mounted share to another directory on the Ubuntu box.

1) What would be the recommended rsync settings to copy the folders and files on the Windows share onto the Ubuntu box - bearing in mind that these files may have to be restored back to the Windows machine in the future.

rsync -av /mnt/winshare /home/user/winbackup

2) Are there any pitfalls/things to watch out for, with backing up files from Windows 7 on Ubuntu?

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2 Answers

I have seen customers of mine trying to use similar method for backing up Windows systems and they usually failed (in one case, really badly) because of four issues:

  • This doesn't work well on open files which can result in the backup being (partially) unusable.
  • Linux file system is case sensitive while Windows's isn't. With time, this tends to cause duplicates and, more difficult to handle, directory structure changes. This makes it very hard to reliably restore a backup.
  • It doesn't work on windows symbolic links and hard links. It's usually not a problem if you're only using if for data folders but it will cause any OS backup to be unusable.
  • NTFS permissions are not properly replicated.

The last two issues might not be actual problem for you depending on the nature what you want to backup. The first two, however, are likely to cause your backups to be randomly inconsistent and hard to restore.

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Ah thank you for the information, I am currently using robocopy to back up the data on the Windows PC - but had a spare Ubuntu box and thought I could offload the backup job to that. Looking at the issues, it's probably not worth me trying to offload if there are reliability issues - and the data folders are very active and change a lot. –  spelk Apr 24 '13 at 10:54
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May I suggest that you look into BURP for backing up Windows using Linux?

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