June 28, 2010

Easy backup in a Windows/Linux network with RSync

This time I'd like to show you a really easy backup method using open source solutions as usual.

I mainly work as a network administrator in a company, keeping services running and having an efficient network is my primary task. One of my big troubles in the network is not related to servers or network physical backbone, troubles comes frequently from users and client desktop PCs, mainly Windows machines.

Problems are divided in two different categories: hardware and software failures; crappy PCs nowadays are frequent and cheap hardware is always a problem, software failures are mainly related to the operating system (mainly XP and Vista, no 7 in my net yet).

You cannot mess with hardware, you can try to buy better PCs or from well known hw manufacturers but if you're trying to recycle old PCs sometimes you run into troubles. Hard Disks are one of my biggest point of failuires. Operating system and mostly user misconfigurations also drives you to every kind of mess, in a regular network like mine corporate users don't have custom or strange apps, they're using Office Automation tools and few more; real problems comes from user custom data, not always backed up as it should be ("what are backups ?") and always locally stored on workstation hard disk even if they're not allowed to do it.
This solution covers data backup only, I don't care about applications setup, operating system setup or something more, just only data backup. In my case, in my network, operating system setup takes me just an hour and applications needed are only Office Automation tools as I told you before. One tool comes in mind to me to achieve this kind of backup: "rsync".

Here are main benefits:

  • You don't need to install additional software or tools in each client, rsync app compiled with cygwin comes with few dll dependencies, no install required
  • It comes for free, just deploy GPLv2 file with the license along with rsync files
  • no strange windows config on it, just need to schedule a task to run rsync periodically, windows scheduler is enough for running this kind of task
  • you don't need to rely on windows auth, permissions, samba, Active Directory or whatever
  • you only need a network and rsync server. RSYNC servers are really easy to setup, you can run them on linux (my choice) or windows or whatever you want
  • you've plenty of options for easy setup from client side as well as from server side

RSync server side config on linux platform

Easy backup with RSync, introduction
RSync server side config on linux platform
Linux RSync client side configuration
Windows RSync client side configuration

Hope it helps

Andrea (Ben) Benini