4 Ways To Backup Linux Workstations Onto A Synology NAS (With Videos)

Since getting my hands on one of Synology’s brand new line of NAS devices, the DS920+, I’ve been playing around with various ways to take backups onto it from my Linux Desktop, which runs 20.04 LTS.

Here are some of the methodologies I have used so far.


Before beginning to take backups of your Linux desktop or laptop onto your Synology NAS, you’ll want to make sure that the requisite servers are running on the NAS — and take notes of which ports you have opened.

From ‘Control Panel’ select ‘File Services’:

You’ll probably want to enable:

  • The SSH server
  • SMB
  • SFTP
  • FTPS
  • rsync

Take note of the IP address your NAS is running on and make sure that your user has read/write access to whatever backups you’re going to be running from the Linux workstation using its credentials. You may even wish to create a separate user just this purpose.

Synology has a well-populated knowledge base and some resources there might be useful to you to get started:

Here are some of the methodologies you can employ:

1. Using Grsync (GUI)

Running full disk backups using grsync, a basic frontend for rsync. Rsync can be used — creatively — to create both full backup snapshots as well as sets using incremental and differential points.

2. Using rsync (CLI)

If GUIs aren’t your thing, then you can get under the hood and just use rsync. Cron and rsync are really all you need to get basic rsync backups going from your Linux desktop to the NAS.

However, if you feel like creating multiple restore snapshots on the destination, then you might want to consider using a different rsync-based tool.

If that approach sounds more up your street take a look at rsnapshot:

Borg Backup is also popular and versatile:

3. Using Cloudberry (GUI)

MSP360™ Backup for Linux (by Cloudberry Lab) is a versatile tool that I’m fond of for creating offsite backup plans which can be used to sync a Linux desktop with a cloud storage provider. I recommend B2 for Backblaze because it is both easy to use (compared to AWS) and specializes in bulk object storage for backup.

Setting up the backup plan in Cloudberry is simply a case of adding the NAS a local SFTP share, inputting credentials, selecting which folders you want to back up, running the backup, and putting it on a recurring schedule.

4. Using Clonezilla (live USB)

While running incremental and differential backups is space-effective and easy (one of rsync, for instance, can be run from a live system), now and again you might want to create full, bare metal backups.

The humble but powerful Clonezilla is my tool of choice for creating backups that I only plan on calling into action when ….. something very bad happens.

Running backups directly onto the NAS over SSH isn’t particularly hard. You just need to make sure to configure a real path to mount /home/partimag.

Performance when backing up over the LAN is definitely slower than running it directly between disks (hitherto, this has been my modus operandi). But full disk images are still relatively quick to run and Clonezilla can be configured to power off the machine upon job completion.

Back Up Your Linux Workstation Today

I’m glad to now be backing up my desktop onto an NAS rather than separate drives on the device itself.

For one, thanks to Cloudberry’s Cloud Sync, this will make pushing those copies offsite (to achieve 3–2–1 compliance) far easier. No more Post-Its reminding myself not to power off my desktop while a days-long push to the cloud is going on.

Secondly, I can retire my internal backup drives and find more interesting things to do with them — or just add more capacity to the Desktop with LVM.

Thanks for reading!

Daytime: tech-focused MarCom. Night-time: somewhat regular musings here. Or the other way round. Likes: Linux, tech, beer. https://www.danielrosehill.com