I have:

  • 1 Linux "backup" server (Ubuntu 9.10 server) (plenty of disk, new server)
  • 2 Gentoo servers
  • 2 CentOS servers
  • 3 Windows 2003 servers

I'd like to backup all of the servers as disk-to-disk backups to the Ubuntu backup server.


Please be gentle as I know Windows but not Linux. I've looked at Bacula, BackupPC, and Amanda. All seem to be a little too complex for me. I'm tasked with doing this cheap, so I can't simply load Windows on the backup server and put something like BackupExec on it.


  • simple to setup on each client
  • simple to setup on the server
  • disk to disk backup
  • easy to monitor/check backup status
  • easy to restore files
  • email me results of backups
  • scheduled weekly full backups and nightly differentials
  • free/open source

Your help is much appreciated and I would think this kind of question would help others in the future if you are thorough in your answer.


4 Answers 4


Have another look at backuppc.
Backuppc has a very intuitive web interface, works for both linux and windows hosts, and although it claims to be for PCs, it would work fine for backing up servers too!

If you're really intent on doing it on the cheap, you will probably find you have to make some sacrifices.

  • I went ahead and dug further into Backuppc. Guess my virtualADD wanted it to simply work with wizards, etc. without RTFM.
    – TheCleaner
    Jan 19, 2010 at 14:29

I would probably go with rsync. For linux, it can be set up with cron jobs. On windows, there is a great rsync front end called DeltaCopy

In both cases, you will get incremental backups so that you aren't absorbing that disk space too fast.


how about add a virualization layer (esx, xen, ...), then you can simply backup them as diskfiles.

  • Waaaayyy too complex. Crazy! Jan 19, 2010 at 14:34
  • No, you can't. Take a low-level backup of a database without considering its currently changing data or using some sort of atomic operation, and that data will be corrupted. In other words, you think you have a backup, and you might, but you might not. SOME virtualisation tools support snapshots, which may be what you're thinking of. However, snapshots are the thing that get you simple reliable image backups, not virtualization. Splitting a RAID mirror or using windows shadow copies will get you the same thing.
    – Lee B
    Feb 26, 2010 at 23:31

A simple and effective tool I've used is rsnapshot. It's easy to setup, and it looks like there's even a Windows HOWTO on their website (though I've never used it with Windows).

You could also share out your snapshots directory with NFS and/or CIFS, and then mount it on the clients for easy restores. Be sure to share it read only, that way the clients can't delete or change the actual backup files.

  • I just reread your requirements, and this won't provide weekly full + daily incremental. It's basically incremental forever, so if that's a hard requirement then this probably won't work.
    – devon
    Jan 19, 2010 at 20:09
  • Continually incremental/dedupped/linked (what's the term?) tools like rsnapshot, rdiff-backup, duplicity, dirvish, and faubackup are even better than full backups, imho, so long as you use a proper, reliable, RAID storage solution for your backup system store.
    – Lee B
    Feb 26, 2010 at 23:33

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