Taking Backups with Duplicity

I wanted to start taking backups for some time, but I haven’t had the time to do any research and set everything up. After reading another horror story that was saved by backups, I decided to start taking some backups.

After doing some research on backup options, I decided on duplicity. The backups are compressed, encrypted and incremental, both saving space and ensuring security. It supports both local and ssh files(as well as many other protocols), so it has everything I need.

I first took a backup into my external hard drive, then VPS. The main problem I encountered was that duplicity uses paramiko for ssh, but it wasn’t able to negotiate a key exchange algorithm with my VPS. Luckily, duplicity also supports pexpect, which uses OpenSSH. If you encounter the same problem, you just need to tell duplicity to use pexpect backend by prepending your url with pexpect+, like pexpect+ssh://example.com.

Duplicity doesn’t seem to have any sort of configuration files of itself, so I ended up writing a small bash script to serve as a sort of configuration, and also keep me from running duplicity with wrong args. I kept forgetting to add an extra slash to file://, causing duplicity to backup my home directory into my home directory! :D

If anyone is interested, here’s the script:


if [[ $(id -u) != "0" ]]; then
    read -p "Backup should be run as root! Continue? [y/N]" yn
    case $yn in
        [Yy]*) break;;
        *) exit;;

if [[ $1 = file://* ]]; then
    echo "Doing local backup."
    if [[ $1 = file:///* ]]; then
		echo "Use absolute paths for backup."
		exit 1
elif [[ $1 = scp* ]]; then
    echo "Doing SSH backup."
    echo "Unknown URL, use scp:// or file://"
    exit 1

if [[ -n "$1" ]]; then
    duplicity $ARGS --exclude-filelist /home/kaan/.config/duplicity-files /home/kaan "$URL/backup"
    echo "Please specify a location to backup into."
    exit 1