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Thread: backing up an encrypted home folder

  1. #1
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    backing up an encrypted home folder

    i've been dual-booting win7 and ubuntu for quite some time, but i recently wiped Win7 off my HDD and installed ubuntu 12.04, loving it so far!

    i had a few questions about encryption and backups. i'm running 12.04 64-bit and i've encrypted my home folder at installation.

    1) when i login, my login password decrypts all my files. from here, i can copy files to flash drives (for use on another computer) and they will be unencrypted, correct?

    2) from what i understand, the home folder is actually empty, and /home/.ecryptfs actually holds all my encrypted files. when i login, the OS thinks that everything is in /home, but it's really not. is this correct? is the below link correct?
    HTML Code:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=12197456&postcount=12
    3) if i wanted to backup my /home folder, what would be the best way? i was thinking about using rsync to an external HDD. if i'm logged in while i do this, are my files stored in an unencrypted format?
    HTML Code:
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/rsync?highlight=%28\bCategoryBackupRecovery\b%29
    4) this is probably a stupid question, but i have my dropbox folder in /home/$user/dropbox. are my files there encrypted? from what i understand, they are encrypted on my HDD (in the event my laptop is lost/stolen) but not on dropbox, because dropbox never sees them in the encrypted format, right?

    thanks in advance, i appreciate any help!

  2. #2
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    Re: backing up an encrypted home folder

    Personally I would just use the built in utility deja-dup (called backup in your menu's) You can select which folders to backup, where to backup (be it network share, local drive, the cloud etc..) It allows you to encrypt your backup or leave it unencrypted ( if you just rsync/tar or whatever your backups will be unencrypted) It does incremental backups, meaning it only backs up files which have changed since the last backup, which saves space and time. It allows you to restore from previous backups based on the date they were created. You can also set it to routinely backup your files at regular intervals.

    it's a fairly decent, easy to use backup solution imho.


    this is probably a stupid question, but i have my dropbox folder in /home/$user/dropbox. are my files there encrypted? from what i understand, they are encrypted on my HDD (in the event my laptop is lost/stolen) but not on dropbox, because dropbox never sees them in the encrypted format, right?
    This is correct.
    "You can't expect to hold supreme executive power just because some watery tart lobbed a sword at you"

    "Don't let your mind wander -- it's too little to be let out alone."

  3. #3
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    Re: backing up an encrypted home folder

    pipes are your friend
    Code:
    # compress/encrypt
    tar -hc /home/$USER/ | gpg -c -o $USER.tar.gpg
    
    # decrypt/explode
    gpg -d $USER.tar.gpg | tar xf -

  4. #4
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    Re: backing up an encrypted home folder

    Deja Dup is extremely easy to set up. My biggest beef with it is that it uses rsync. Consequently, the backup files are a format that cannot be browsed or selectively extracted.

    The previous post is a great example of pipes, but there are probably a few more options you want to include in your tar commands. You should probably look over the manual entry for tar.

    Code:
    $ man tar
    Jane, stop this crazy thing!

  5. #5
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    Re: backing up an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by newb85 View Post
    Deja Dup is extremely easy to set up. My biggest beef with it is that it uses rsync. Consequently, the backup files are a format that cannot be browsed or selectively extracted.
    Actually, if you pop open nautilus, browse to some folder you have backuped up, hit alt, search for "resto", press enter, a gui will allow you to selectively restore files to that folder.

    I understand you can use duplicity from the command line to manually manipulate the backups.
    "You can't expect to hold supreme executive power just because some watery tart lobbed a sword at you"

    "Don't let your mind wander -- it's too little to be let out alone."

  6. #6
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    Re: backing up an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by jerome1232 View Post
    Actually, if you pop open nautilus, browse to some folder you have backuped up, hit alt, search for "resto", press enter, a gui will allow you to selectively restore files to that folder.

    I understand you can use duplicity from the command line to manually manipulate the backups.
    but if the files were on an external drive. i could not just browse to that drive and view a single file. correct? i'd have to restore it first?

  7. #7
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    Re: backing up an encrypted home folder

    Quote Originally Posted by lmm5247 View Post
    but if the files were on an external drive. i could not just browse to that drive and view a single file. correct? i'd have to restore it first?
    That is correct. If you want to be able to do that you'd be better of with rsync, or tar, and using cron to schedule the backups.

    edit: I should note, duplicity from the command line CAN list out files contained in the backup.
    "You can't expect to hold supreme executive power just because some watery tart lobbed a sword at you"

    "Don't let your mind wander -- it's too little to be let out alone."

  8. #8
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    Re: backing up an encrypted home folder

    edit:
    ..i assume you're wanting to pull the backup to another machine on the network

    server
    Code:
    tcpserver 192.168.1.2 8080 cat backup.tar.gpg
    client
    Code:
    tcpcat 192.168.1.2 8080 > backup.tar.gpg

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