Poor man’s TimeMachine

Some weeks ago I wrote about a easy and cheap backup solution for windows users. But what about Mac and Linux users? The Mac guys have a similar solution right at hand: TimeMachine. It is quite easy to backup the most important stuff regularily onto an external drive while working. The configuration and hardware investment is minimal.

Now what if I happen to use Linux as an operating system? I looked for solutions similar to the Seagate Replica or TimeMachine expecting less comfort. My first try was rsnapshot because a friend of mine recommended it. While it works nicely and has quite some features it requires manual editing of text configuration files. Nothing, that a casual user would like and even I was not quite satisfied. A little more research on the web brought me to Back in time.

Back in time was exactly what I wanted: simple install from the Ubuntu package repository, a GNOME gui (KDE version is available too) to configure and maintain everything and unobstrusive background operation. You can configure it even to run with root priviledges to backup files the logged in user cannot access. So you can keep system configuration files etc. backed up, too.

One hint for ubuntu users: You may need to install the “menu”-package to be able to use the root version.


With these backup solutions available for all major operating systems one can achive basic data security at virtually no cost. There is no compelling reason to risk many hours of work to a drive failure or a user delete without undelete possibilies (think rm -rf *). Of course one can improve that backup strategy further, but for me this is a baseline nobody should miss.

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