A small 20 person company wants a file share that everyone can access which has versioned file level backups. We don't plan to use the versioning often but we want it there if we need it. We already have a volume level backup occurring every hour to an external system. We're mostly using debian linux for our file servers and linux or Mac OS X on the desktop.

What are some good free open source solutions for automatic versioned file level backups in a file share?

Is the best solution something like a version control system, SVN or Git etc, which makes a new commit every time a file is changed?

Is using ZFS for this a good idea? I've read ZFS can take snapshots but from what I read they're volume level snapshots and not file level snapshots and from what I read you set them up like a cron job to take place every n minutes instead of every time a file is changed.

Thanks in advance.


The problem with backup is not so much choosing the tool, but rather managing the resulting backup files:

  • incremental or full?
  • where do you store them? on disk? on band? locally? on a specialized facility?
  • for how long?
  • other criteria may also apply

VCS is not good at backup because:

  • it handle poorly binary diffs
  • if you have lots of files you don't want to backup (because you can easily regenerate them), they would be part of one of the hourly commits, and then it is hard to remove that commit (VCS are designed to keep the history)

You are better off with some classic incremental backup tools, managed for instance with a cron job.
Other tools are mentioned in this question.

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