I am currently setting on a new CentOS server on one of my Linodes, and are debating with myself on how to back up the data.

The server is running DirectAdmin, which will compress all data (e-mail, settings, files, databases) to .tar files every night. I lean towards installing Dropbox CLI on the server, and sync the .tar files to Dropbox every night. Mainly because Dropbox keeps each version of the .tar 30 days back, essentially being able to go 1-30 days back in time and retrieve those backups. I find that really neat, as it doesn't use up more space on Dropbox (compared to a self-hosted solution, where you'd need to keep 30 .tar files for doing the same).

I don't trust Dropbox 100% regarding privacy, so my backups would be made like this:

  1. DirectAdmin makes backup of all users
  2. A script encrypts those .tar files
  3. The encrypted files are moved to the Dropbox sync folder

Do you have any better suggestions for taking backup of my server?

Linode have their own backup solution, but they backup to a server in the same location as you have your VPS, and it can even be in the same rack as your server; ie. you're doomed if it burns.. Have asked Linode if it was possible to backup to another data center, but it's not possible.

Have also thought about Amazon S3, but it will be more expensive than having a Dropbox/Linode solution.

It would be nice with Dropbox, as I already have a 100GB account (which is more than enough for my server that only uses ~20GB space).

Suggestions for better solutions are welcomed!

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  • You're a already ahead of the game, as too many forget back-ups, but nobody really cares about the quality of backups compared to the importance of actual successful restores... – HBruijn Jul 5 '14 at 16:57
  • @HBruijn the reason why I want to use DirectAdmin's own backup system, is that it is so easy to restore. I have a standard server setup ready to deploy that sets up CentOS, DirectAdmin, and configures php.ini, DirectAdmin backups contains all ftp-, email-, mysql accounts etc. as well as all settings, autoresponders, domains etc. So my procedure will just be to run that server setup script, fetch .tar's from Dropbox and then import them via DirectAdmin, which then sets up all data as it was. With this plan, I can set up a brand new server in max. 2 hours. Is it a bad plan to use Dropbox? – Trolley Jul 5 '14 at 17:30
  • Also, the DirectAdmin backup uses mysqldump for the MySQL backup, so it should be a good backup of the DB. – Trolley Jul 5 '14 at 17:31
  • A consideration with using Dropbox (and other hosted solutions) is how along will it take to get 20GB out when you need a restore, and how long does the upload into Dropbox take. Do you actually get the average 250 Kilobyte per second (2.5 Mbit) upload speed to complete your directory sync within 24 hours before you create the next 20 GB back-up file? – HBruijn Jul 7 '14 at 20:20

Judging by this question, I may get chastised for this but:

Although not ideal, it's better than nothing. Personally, I'd go with something like Crashplan whose sole purpose is backup. However, anything that gets a secured copy of your data offsite is better than just keeping one copy of your data in house.

Of course, take into consideration an appropriate restoration plan. E.g.:

  • What would the process be for a bare-metal restore?
  • How would we restore files from a week ago?
  • Would this backup strategy be supscitible to ransomware?

Everyone has different things to consider. Your plan should take your specific situation into consideration.


  • backing up to dropbox is "better than nothing" in the same way that breaking your leg is better than losing your leg; while it might be technically correct to make that point, it doesn't mean you want a broken leg. – Rob Moir Jul 5 '14 at 20:35
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    And, of course, the question you always need to answer: "how long will a full restore take and does this match my idea of how fast I need the server up and running again after a failure?" I do not know what service level Dropbox is promising, but I could imagine that downloading a 20 GB tar archive could take a while. After that, you need to decrypt it, unpack it and put the data in place. Plus, you need that much space on the hard drive. And in the middle of the process you might notice that you have a corrupt archive, i.e. you have to restart from scratch. How much time is left now? – the-wabbit Jul 5 '14 at 20:35
  • Dropbox synchronizes to your local drive. Restoration should be as fast as local restoration. – Belmin Fernandez Jul 5 '14 at 20:36
  • This isn't the right solution for bare-metal restore obviously. That isn't what he seems to intend it to be. But it could be part of a pretty decent backup solution. The only problem I see is the SLA being that Dropbox isn't intended to be a backup solution unlike something like Crashplan. – Belmin Fernandez Jul 5 '14 at 20:38
  • Backing up to DropBox is probably not fundamentally worse than backing up to any public file sharing service. But I always found that if you have got your backup and restore procedures basically solid, you might lose a lot of time on a restore job. Even if because of Murphy's. If you can't affort that, you should avoid factors which introduce a high amount of uncertainty into your chain of actions. – the-wabbit Jul 5 '14 at 20:45

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