Piping remote backups through SSH with tar

Aug 10, 2010


As a part of my site restoration, this page was salvaged and may not be up to date

While usually operating some sort of backup systems, it may become necessary to perform at remote backup of a machine without initiating locally. There can be a number of reasons to do this, such as:

  • You do not trust the operator of the machine you need to backup from. Various tools may be compromised to grab your passwords.
  • There is no space left on the machine to store the backup file

From the receiving machine (backup to)

# Using bzip2 as compression ssh user@remote-machine.com
tar cj remote\_folder\_name1 remote\_folder\_name2 > backup.tar.bz
# Using gzip as compression ssh user@remote-machine.com
tar cz remote\_folder\_name1 remote\_folder\_name2 > backup.tar.gz

You will be prompted for a password before the command is run. If you need this to be automatic, you can use password-less public key authentication instead (although I will not cover it here). If you risk that your session might die before finishing the copy, try something like ‘screen’ before running the command. This shouldn’t be much of a revelation to most linux geeks, but useful non the less and written here for documentation purposes.