Currently I'm using rsnapshot to implement a daily / weekly / monthly backup scheme on an external disk. Lately I've been reading alot about copy-on-write file systems like zfs and btrfs. I quite like the ability to store snapshots to go back in time.

Is there any serious drawback of the following approach for creating a history of daily backups?

  • Each day I would synchronize my data with the external drive, formatted with either zfs or btrfs, using rsync.
  • After that I would create a snapshot.
  • Probably implement some thinning of the backup chain.
  • Sure. It works just fine.
    – ewwhite
    Sep 28, 2015 at 16:18
  • Each day I would synchronize my data ... - You do not have to restrict yourself to only syncing once per day. Set up one nightly and then for instance additionally in the week one sync approx one hour after you leave for work and one sync approx one hour before you come home again. Or if you want to sync aggressively once per hour.
    – hlovdal
    Oct 30, 2017 at 22:25

2 Answers 2


It is a working scheme, but in order to make yourself even more comfy you could actually store data on zfs. This will give the following advantages:

  • you will be capable of creating snapshots exactly at the place where you need them - this eliminates the need to transport data back during recovery procedure
  • you will be capable of backing up to a second host using incremental snapshots, and this, in its turn, means that a) this is faster b) unlike incremental archive bundles, incremental snapshot will add data to the existing piece, instead of just laying on the disk in one piece and waiting to be extracted in sequence in order to receive full copy c) you will automatically have two sets of snapshots - one on the main host and another on second one
  • you won't need to account the time needed for rsync to sync resources for the snapshot creation to start after rsync finishes, to get a consistent snapshot state (often this can be not that vital, but anyway, one reason less to bother).
  • This is much more ideal
    – ewwhite
    Sep 28, 2015 at 18:45

Have a look at btrbk. Basically what the previous poster did write can be done with btrfs also. Btrbk will automate it for you. The speed difference between the rsync based rsnapshot and the btrfs send/receive based btrbk is very convincing. Because it is so easy I have a cron job which makes hourly backups now.

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