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This seems like a simple 'what tool to use for x' question, but it's more general. I'm rapidly running out of ideas, so I hope to get some insight here.

We have a customer that has employees with Windows laptops that never plug into the LAN. All they use is constantly changing and intermittent Wi-Fi. How would I backup these laptops? I need a tool that can deal with connections that drop-out and ideally, that can sync back to a new laptop (when the laptop gets replaced).

Programs like Dropbox and Google Drive come to mind, but that's not possible for legal reasons; the data has to be stored on private hardware. A private cloud would work, but the options are limited. One that comes recommended a lot is Owncloud, but by now, I reported dozens of bugs and we're still getting the most scary data corruption. I've decided its not to be trusted.

Traditionally, before the 'cloud', I simply setup a Samba server that used rdiff-backup to backup remotely. This works perfectly. But, when people never connect to the LAN, this becomes impossible.

How do people address the issue of backing up these kinds of laptops, preferably with tools that work over SSH and do some kind of checksumming to make sure the data is intact?

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In addition to Bittorrent Sync there is AeroFS, which I believe can be set up to operate completely on your own hardware. –  ptman May 7 '13 at 7:58
    
FWIW, I have users exactly as you describe. I give them a USB hard drive, setup an encrypted backup to the hard drive and give them clear instructions, including BIG warning on the consequences of not doing it. Fortunately their data is relatively not important to the business though, so YMMV on that. –  fukawi2 May 7 '13 at 9:57
    
I will look into AeroFS as well. As for letting them make backups themselves, I don't trust that :) –  Halfgaar May 10 '13 at 11:25

3 Answers 3

You might want to have a look at bittorrent sync. All data is stored on owned hardware, plus when you are on the LAN you get good sync speeds as well as enableing syncing over the internet. I'm currently testing it between Windows/Mac and Linux server.

More info: http://labs.bittorrent.com/experiments/sync.html

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I'm going to give this a try. I hope it does SSL too, because I don't want unencrypted data flying around. –  Halfgaar May 10 '13 at 11:25
    
Encryption is pretty beefy, 256bit AES with your HASHKEY for the folder you are sharing. –  Danie May 13 '13 at 9:03

You could take a look at UrBackup (Open Source). It does backups not sync, though. Setup instructions are here: http://www.urbackup.org/Administration_Manual.php#x1-180006

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Is VPN with roaming profiles an option? If so, then Cisco AnyConnect has a Start Before Login option that allows domain users to log in and log out while connected to an inside network. I believe the VPN stays connected and the roaming profile can be saved to an internal file server. You'd also be able to use robocopy to copy files to an internal file server.

Another option, since you mentioned SSH, is to install a scp client on each of the computers and build a script to archive the files for backup and upload the archive to a file server running ssh.

I found a couple of articles for reference here and here.

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