Setting up a BTRFS and rsync backup server

Who is this for?

This is for people who came across the following issues with current backup solutions:

  • You have multiple computers, but you want to sync all backups onto one of them.
  • You want the benefits of rsnapshot – daily, weekly, and monthly snapshots.
  • You want the efficient COW (copy-on-write) benefits of BTRFS.
  • You want to back all of this up onto a single, designated backup disk.

Syncing from remote nodes to the server.

On the client, nothing complicated is really happening. Just a simple cron job is syncing down to the server using rsync.

For this to work, you will need to add your client public key to the authorized_keys on the server, and install rsync on both the client and server.

Here is a little script I wrote to handle things nicely:

I recommend placing this in “/usr/local/bin/” and giving it the permissions “700” for root only.

In my root crontab, I have this script set to run every hour at ??:30. On the server, we will be snapshotting everything at ??:00, so this prevents any possible conflicts.

Setting up the server.

If you haven’t already guessed, you should have a BTRFS formatted drive connected to your backup server and mounted (possibly at /mnt/backup).

Normally with rsnapshot, everything is synced into a .sync directory. BUT. With this solution, we create .sync as a BTRFS subvolume:

You will need a few hacky scripts to trick rsnapshot into creating new subvolumes instead of directories as well. Place these in /usr/local/bin:



Now in /etc/rsnapshot.conf, you will want to set the following params:

As well of this, you will of course want to configure the interval options.

Here are mine:

Now you just configure your rsnapshot backup directories. Here is my config:

Last but not least, we add some crontab entries to snapshot ALL THE THINGS:

Now you have a nice backup system, and don’t have to worry about losing files whenever you throw your laptop out the window!


I would like to thank Walter Werther who wrote an article that I ripped some techniques out of.

One thought on “Setting up a BTRFS and rsync backup server”

  1. I really like what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the very good works guys I’ve added you
    guys to my blogroll.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *