Technology and Internet

Easy backups with Borg

One of the oldest and most frequent advises to people working with computers is “create backups of your stuff”. People know about it, they are sick of hearing it, they even advice other people about it, but a large percentage of them don’t do it.

There are many tools out there to help you fulfill this task, but throughout the years the one I end up relying the most is definitely “Borg“. It is really easy to use, has good documentation and runs very well on Linux machines.

Here how they describe it:

BorgBackup (short: Borg) is a deduplicating backup program. Optionally, it supports compression and authenticated encryption.

The main goal of Borg is to provide an efficient and secure way to backup data. The data deduplication technique used makes Borg suitable for daily backups since only changes are stored. The authenticated encryption technique makes it suitable for backups to not fully trusted targets.

Borg’s Website

The built-in encryption and de-duplication features are some of its more important selling points.

Until recently I’ve had a hard time recommending it to less technical people, since Borg is mostly available through the command line and can take some work to implement the desired backup “policy”. There is a web based graphical user interface but I generally don’t like them as a replacement for native desktop applications.

However in the last few months I’ve been testing this GUI frontend for Borg, called Vorta, that I think will do the trick for family and friends that ask me what can they use to backup their data.

The tool is straight forward to use and supports the majority of Borg’s functionality, once you setup the repository you can instruct it to regularly perform your backups and forget about it.

I’m not gonna describe how to use it, because with a small search on the internet you can quickly find lots of articles with that information.

The only advise that I would like to leave here about Vorta, is related to the the encryption and the settings chosen when creating your repository. At least on the version I used, the recommend repokey option will store your passphrase on a local SQLite database in clear-text, which is kind of problematic.

This seems to be viewed as a feature:

Fallback to save repo passwords. Only used if no Keyring available.

Github Repository

But I could not find the documentation about how to avoid this “fallback”.

By Gonçalo Valério

Software developer and owner of this blog. More in the "about" page.