Backups using rsync#


We want all data to have a “single source of truth”. As such, important data has its reference location at only one site. All day-to-day usage of that data is undergone via network traffic to that reference location. The downside of this is that a network interruption, such as the remote data storage location having a power outage, makes this data unavailable.

As such, just-in-case, important remote datastores are synced locally. This document details an example of one such local sync.


  • SSH Tunnels forwarding through the SAMBA port of the remote file share

    • For the purpose of this document it will be assumed that this share is accessible at rccc-ssh/Physics at port 44448. The directory to be backed up is Physics

  • A local SAMBA share for storing the backup

    • For the purpose of this document it will be assumed that this share is accessible at rccc-ssh/D. The directory to back up to is PhysicsDriveBackup

  • A username and password that is able to access both SAMBA shares

    • For the purpose here, this username will be pexit and the remote share will be on the domain nbccc, and the local share will be on the domain rccc.

  • An Ubuntu 20.04 instance with access to both the forwarded SAMBA share and the local SAMBA share

    • For the purpose here, this instance is a VM within Hyper-V with user login name pexit.


The general approach here will be to:

  • Create the permanent SAMBA mount points via fstab

  • Set up rsync to run via cron

Permanently mount the SAMBA shares#

To begin, we need to create two mount points. On our machine this was done by running:

sudo mkdir -p /media/rccc-ssh/D /media/tunnel-nbcc-pdc/Physics

Then, to create the permanent mounts both fstab and cifs-utils were utilised. This was adapted from the instructions over at

Firstly cifs-utils was installed:

sudo apt install cifs-utils

Next, a file at ~/.smbcredentials was created with the contents:


Then the read/write permissions of this file were set as such:

chmod 600 .smbcredentials

Next, the contents of /etc/fstab was updated to include the following:

//rccc-ssh/Physics  /media/tunnel-nbcc-pdc/Physics  cifs  user,uid=pexit,credentials=/home/pexit/.smbcredentials,domain=nbccc,iocharset=utf8,port=44448  0  0
//rccc-ssh/D        /media/rccc-ssh/D               cifs  user,uid=pexit,credentials=/home/pexit/.smbcredentials,domain=rccc,iocharset=utf8              0  0

These new mount points can be tested by running mount /media/tunnel-nbcc-pdc/Physics and mount /media/rccc-ssh/D

Setup rsync crontab#

These instructions for setting up rsync are adapted from

To set up the crontab run crontab -e, then append the following to the bottom of that file:

0 1 * * * mount /media/rccc-ssh/D ; mount /media/tunnel-nbcc-pdc/Physics ; timeout 4h rsync -av --delete /media/tunnel-nbcc-pdc/Physics/Physics/ /media/rccc-ssh/D/PhysicsDriveBackup/

This will set up cron to make sure the appropriate directories are mounted and then runs rsync each night at 1 am. If the task hasn’t completed by 5 am it is stopped ready for it to continue the task on the following night.