Encrypted cloud backups with Duplicity

Data Safe

Article from Issue 156/2013
Author(s):

If you're looking for a secure and portable backup technique, try combining the trusty command-line utility Duplicity with an available cloud account.

The Duplicity command-line tool is a popular option for storing backups in insecure environments, because it offers encryption by default. Encrypted backups can fall into the hands of third parties without risk. Many users configure Duplicity to back up to a local file server, but you can also send your files to an FTP server, an SSH server, or even a cloud-based Amazon (S3) or Ubuntu (U1) system. Backing up to the cloud offers the protection of a remote location, and it makes the archive available worldwide. In this article, I describe how to use Duplicity to back up files to the cloud.

About Duplicity

When launched, Duplicity first generates a full backup; later backups store incremental changes, called deltas, in what Duplicity refers to as volumes. Space-saving hard links then refer to the files on the full backup.

Thus, in principle, you could just create one full backup and then use incremental backups for the changes. The developers of Duplicity warn customers, however: Not only can a mistake in one incremental part ruin the entire backup [1], but restoring files takes quite a long time if the software needs to run through all the incremental backups.

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