Sign up ×
Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

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.

share|improve this answer
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

May I suggest that you look into BURP for backing up Windows using Linux?

share|improve this answer

I suggest you to check:

  • Backula
  • BackupPC

Great Free Software and professional results :)

If you want to keep this even easier you can install Crashplan on Windows PC and use the samba share to store the backup.

share|improve this answer
Bacula windows client requires commercial license to access to latest version, as far as I know. Public version is not updated for 2 years. –  Somescout Nov 17 '14 at 10:42

Rsync is a very powerful tool, perfectly capable of doing what you are asking. Simply use the following options: -aAX --numeric-ids, where:

  • -a means "archive", and it implies several other options;
  • -A means "Access Lists", and it is needed to backup the NTFS security descriptors;
  • -X means "Extended Attributes", and it copy any additional meta-stream attached to the file;
  • --numeric-ids means to not mangle the UID/GID attached to the files. NOTE: if you Windows and Linux machines have persistent UID/GID (eg: by being joined to a AD/LDAP domain), you can safely skip this option.

I suggest you to directly install CygWin/Rsync on the Windows machine, bypassing the Linux mount entirely. Moreover, please consider using rsync via rsnapshot: it is a very good utility with incremental backup feature.

share|improve this answer
Additional suggestion in the same genre and very efficient: –  ErikE Jun 27 at 6:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.