When you decide to backup your server (hopefully sooner than later), you will need to choose a transfer method. Unless your backup device is physically attached to your server, that transfer method will involve a network or remote Internet connection. FTP is a common method of file transfer that many people use for their websites, but it is not terribly secure. SSH offers encryption to give you a secure connection, and rsync takes advantage of that technology.
Moreover, to use FTP for your backups, you will have to develop a script or use a pre-made script that uses FTP. With Rsync, the command itself, with the proper options, can take advantage of backups and even give you incremental updates without having to download all of the backup files again. You can use rsync to backup files on local, network, and Internet devices or server, and it will even handle archiving and compression for you.
Other features of rsync include:
- free and open source
- incremental file transfer
- rsync algorithm to keep files in sync
- can preserve symbolic links, hard links, permissions, file ownership, and more
- can be configured to use SSH for secure transfers
- can login automatically with an SSH key, perform the backups, and then log out
Rsync is a fast and free tool that is designed with tasks like backups and syncing in mind. With it, you will never have to worry about writing scripts to use FTP again. For more information about rsync and a brief tutorial on making backups with rsync, see Backup Important Server Files with Rsync.