BackupPC is a backup software written in perl. It is packaged on all modern Linux distros, to install it on Debian family:

# apt-get install backuppc

That’s all.

How it works ?

BackupPC is a set it then forget it backup software. Backups are performed by backuppc user through ssh and rsync

BackupPC doesn’t perform backups at fixed hours, but checks periodically with ping command if a host is alive or not. Then, it checks if there is recent backup of this host.

Default backup policy:

  • Full backups every 7 days (not a weekly backup every sunday, each 7 days !!!)
  • Incremental backups once a day
  • Backup are not performed during “blackouts period” (between 7am to 7pm30 from Monday to Friday)
  • Default settings can be overwritten in config section of each host

If there is recents backups, BackupPC will do nothing if we are in blackout period. But if a backup is older than 7 days, BackupPC will try to backup it, even in blackout period, by all means.

Good to know

BackupPC works with Hostnames, not IPs

BackupPC doesn’t work with IP, only with FQDN. So you must have a DNS who resolves your hosts you want to backup.

Poor-man-method is /etc/hosts file.

SSH configuration

BackupPC can backup Samba or FTP shares, but SSH is preferred, as we will backup only Linux servers.

backuppc user must be able to connect to the host without password. So create a ssh key and copy the public keys to the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file.

To test if backuppc will be able to connect to the host, connect as backuppc user on the server then try to connect to the host.

BackupPC must access to ALL files

BackupPC tries to connect to host by default with root user. As it is not a good practice, it is better to create a backuppc system user on the host to backup:

# useradd backuppc --system -m

Then configure sudo for this user to be able to backup root files.

Be careful because as explained here:

Note that an attacker who can become the backuppc user on the server can then ssh to the client and use sudo to run /bin/tar as root. Importantly, this means they can write files anywhere on the file system by doing tar -x or using rsync to copy files. This is sufficient to allow an attacker to become root on the client machine.

Launch visudo:

 backuppc  ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/rsync

And for RsyncClientCmd and RsyncClientRestoreCmd directive, replace root with backuppc and add sudo.

$sshPath -t -q -x -l backuppc $host nice -n 19 sudo $rsyncPath $argList+

Be sure you can log in with backuppc user only from IP

Another tips:

  • restrict login to backuppc user through ssh with the AllowUser directive in /etc/ssh/sshd_config file.
  • before restart ssh service, always check if the config is OK with the sshd -t command, and check you can always log in by test a new SSH connection in another terminal

ping configuration

BackupPC checks if a host is alive or not with ping command. If ping is disabled on your servers, you can override it by a script who will return 0 if connection is successful. We can check if a server is alive or not with SSH.

Example script:

if [ "$1" = "localhost" ]; then
  return 0
ssh -q backuppc@$1 exit

In /etc/backuppc/, override the PingCmd and PingPath commands:

$Conf{PingPath} = '/path/to/your/script';
$Conf{PingCmd} = '$pingPath $host';

Ping test through SSH gives some latency. If a host doesn’t respond in less than 20 ms, BackupPC considers host is not reachable, and you can have this kind of message in log file:

2015-12-07 17:18:52 ping too slow: 20.17msec
2015-12-07 17:21:49 ping too slow: 20.75msec
2015-12-07 17:46:18 ping too slow: 20.3msec
2015-12-07 18:00:01 ping too slow: 20.3msec

So increase the PingMaxMsec directive to fix this:

$Conf{PingMaxMsec} = 60;

Linux server backup configuration

You can backup whole / (=slash aka root path in Linux). Enter / for RsyncShareName. You will have to exclude some useless directories such as /proc, /dev, /sys in the BackupFilesExclude section.

If you are using BackupPC interface, use * as new key. More details here

Path of BackupPC perl scripts

You can find BackupPC perl scripts here: /usr/share/backuppc/bin/

root@backup: ~ # ls /usr/share/backuppc/bin/
BackupPC      BackupPC_archiveHost   BackupPC_attribPrint  BackupPC_fixupBackupSummary  BackupPC_nightly  BackupPC_sendEmail   BackupPC_tarCreate   BackupPC_tarPCCopy   BackupPC_zcat
BackupPC_archive  BackupPC_archiveStart  BackupPC_dump             BackupPC_link                BackupPC_restore  BackupPC_serverMesg  BackupPC_tarExtract  BackupPC_trashClean  BackupPC_zipCreate

Host removal

Keep an archive of the host

/usr/share/backuppc/bin/BackupPC_archiveHost tarCreatePath splitPath parPath host bkupNum compPath fileExt splitSize outLoc parFile share

It can sounds complex, here is an explanation:

  • tarCreatePath: /usr/share/backuppc/bin/BackupPC_tarCreate
  • splitPath: split command (can be ignored => /bin/false)
  • parPath: par command (can be ignored => /bin/false)
  • host: host name, you can find it on /etc/backuppc/hosts
  • bkupNum: backup number
  • comPath: compression command, you can use gzip, but pigz is a better alternative => /usr/bin/pigz
  • fileExt: extension => .gz
  • splitSize: we doesn’t split => 0
  • outLoc: output path of the archive, you can write a dot for current path => .
  • parFile: par file, a dot for current file => .
  • share name: check path in BackupPC web interface, don’t forget “/” in begin and end. If you want all files => \*

Here is an example if you want an archive of backup 57 of asterix host:

/usr/share/backuppc/bin/BackupPC_archiveHost /usr/share/backuppc/bin/BackupPC_tarCreate /bin/false /bin/false asterix 57 /usr/bin/pigz  .gz 0 . . \*

Remove the host

To remove a machine from backups, 3 steps:

  • Remove host’s configuration file : rm /etc/backuppc/
  • Delete host occurence in ‘'/etc/backuppc/hosts’’ then reload backuppc service : /etc/init.d/backuppc reload
  • Move host’s backups files to ‘'/var/lib/backuppc/trash’’ : mv /var/lib/backuppc/pc/host /var/lib/backuppc/trash/


BackupPC Full documentation

BackupPC daily report

A daily report of the summary page can be sent, here is the script /root/backuppc-report/


BASEDIR="$( cd "$( dirname "$0" )" && pwd )"
HT_PASSWD="Put here password of your backuppc user"
TITLE="BackupPC Report"

wget -O ${TMP_FILE} --quiet --no-check-certificate ${URL}

sed -i 's!\(<td.*10%.*\)>!\1 style="display: none;" >!' ${TMP_FILE}
sed -i 's!<head>!<head><style type="text/css">table {font-size: 12px;}</style>!' ${TMP_FILE}
sed -i 's!90%!100%!' ${TMP_FILE}
sed -i 's!^.**img src.*$!!' ${TMP_FILE}
sed -i 's!\(<div class="NavMenu" id="NavMenu" style="\)height:100%">!\1display: none;"!' ${TMP_FILE}

cat ${TMP_FILE} | mail -s "$TITLE" -a "Content-type: text/html" -a "From: $SENDER" $RCPT

rm -f ${TMP_FILE}

In /etc/crontab:

0 10 * * *      root    /root/backuppc-report/

Move BackupPC to another machine

On the new machine, install backuppc and stop backuppc service on both old and new backuppc server. Transfer /etc/backuppc config files and backuppc .ssh configs.

From the old server, you have to transfer the whole /var/lib/backuppc/cpool/ directory who contains all backups. Once it is done, as backuppc user, you have to launch the BackupPC_tarPCCopy tool to copy BackupPC hardlinks in /var/lib/backuppc/pc folder.

It works like this:

/usr/share/backuppc/bin/BackupPC_tarPCCopy /var/lib/old_backuppc_folder/pc/ | tar xPf - -C /var/lib/new_backuppc_folder/pc/

To migrate backuppc pc folder from one server to another machine through SSH, here is the command line:

su -c "/usr/share/backuppc/bin/BackupPC_tarPCCopy /var/lib/backuppc/pc/" -s /bin/bash backuppc | ssh iuser@another-machine tar xPf - -C /var/lib/backuppc/pc/