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Linux life savers for paranoid penguins

When one safety net isn't enough

Beyond Ubuntu

Some other similar services include Dropbox. Dropbox is cross-platform, which means you can easily sync files from Windows or Mac to your Linux machine, and it also offers a web-based interface that gives you access to your files no matter what computer you're using.

There's no music streaming out of the box, but unlike Ubuntu One, Dropbox has never so much as hiccuped in the nearly two years I've been using it - though the Dropbox server did recently go down for a few hours.

Dropbox's prices are inline with Ubuntu One, but because Dropbox runs on any platform, you end up getting a bit more for your money, assuming you need to sync across different platforms and PCs.

Back In Time interface

Back-In-Time: a Mac-like option hidden in Ubuntu's repositories

If you're not a fan of Dropbox in particular but like the idea of automatic web-based backup there are several other options including JungleDisk (also cross platform) and, a Linux desktop client of which is in the works but you can sync manually by mounting the server in Ubuntu.

For those wanting something a bit more Linux-centric, there's also SparkleShare, which hopes to be like Dropbox, but more tightly integrated with the GNOME desktop. So far, the project doesn't have any code available but it's worth keeping an eye on.

If you're not comfortable with online backup services having your data, or if you just want a local backup as well, fear not, local backup software for Linux has a long, storied history.

If you're looking for something like Apple's TimeMachine there are several options.

The first I tested is Back In Time, which is included in the Ubuntu repositories. Back In Time makes versioned backups of your files and, in my testing, worked without issue. There's also a handy GUI for setting up a cronjob to run Back In Time on a regular schedule.

FlyBack is yet another take on the Time Machine paradigm that uses Git behind the scenes to create versioned backups of you files. While FlyBack worked just fine, it lacks some features of Time Machine - like automation - and the issues page in Google Code has a number of reports of FlyBack failing.

While neither app has the visual polish of Time Machine, both accomplish the same thing.

Flyback backup

FlyBack: lacks Time-Machine's polish and, reportedly, its reliability

If none of these quite tickle your fancy there is always the granddaddy of backup tools - rsync. In fact, some of the apps above use rysnc behind the scenes - others use version control systems like SVN, Git or Mercurial.

RSync by itself isn't pretty, it's just a command-line utility, but there are plenty of GUI wrappers that can help you set up regular, scheduled backups and chose which folders to back up and which files to ignore. Just search for rysnc in the Ubuntu software center and try a few until you find something that works for you.

When it comes to backing up your files Linux is every bit as good and, in many cases, much better at the job than anything you'll find for Windows or Mac. Whether you're looking to backup your files on the web, to a local drive or - ideally - both, Linux has you covered. ®

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