Laptop backup to local network drive

What is the problem you are having with rclone?

I'm new to rclone and can't quite seem to find the answer to my question, as it's more qualitative and technical (as of yet).

My goal is to replace my mac's Time Machine (which I currently use with a usb drive that I plugged into my mac) with a similar backup system to an exfat SSD drive plugged into my pi, on my lan. The idea being to back up my entire laptop with incremental backups, where only modified files are copied. Question: is rclone the right tool for this?

I read something about --backup-dir (including here), so I think this is technically feasible (although I have not quite figured out the syntax to select the ssd in question), but I also welcome input regarding the appropriateness of rclone itself -- is there a more appropriate tool for this? (the reason I do not want to stick to time machine for this is that I will be moving away from mac in the future).


Run the command 'rclone version' and share the full output of the command.

rclone v1.66.0

  • os/version: darwin 14.4 (64 bit)
  • os/kernel: 23.4.0 (x86_64)
  • os/type: darwin
  • os/arch: amd64
  • go/version: go1.22.1
  • go/linking: dynamic
  • go/tags: cmount

Which cloud storage system are you using? (eg Google Drive)

SSD drive on raspberry pi on local network

The command you were trying to run (eg rclone copy /tmp remote:tmp)


Please run 'rclone config redacted' and share the full output. If you get command not found, please make sure to update rclone.


A log from the command that you were trying to run with the -vv flag


No. rclone is not a backup solution. It can be used to build such but it requires much more than simple commands it has to offer.

It lacks deduplication, compression and delta backups other programs support out of the box.

It is very crude way to use it for simple backup purposes. There are much better options available.

I recommend you look at programs like restic/rustic/kopia. They all BTW can utilize rclone to connect to some cloud providers. Which is the right use of rclone - as a tool to facilitate files transfer to/from various cloud providers.

Really glad I asked before getting technical :slight_smile: Thanks, @kapitainsky.

Apparently, Rustic is not yet stable, so I will put a pin on it for now. Otherwise, do you have a recommendation (and, if so, why) between Restic and Kopia?

I use rustic:slight_smile: I appreciate authors to be cautious but as it uses restic repository format I always know I can fall back to it. rustic offers many features still not implemented in restic

kopia is ok if you you need out of the box GUI. I also use it for some critical data as it supports very well object lock with S3 storage.

There are many options out there - none is perfect. Most important is to start using one. For your local (USB disk) storage I think anything will do. All three programs I mentioned are under active development with responsive community - so whatever you choose you can get some help.

I have no problem to recommend any of them - what you choose depends on your personal preferences really. All are open source so you are free to investigate and decide.

in your case - macOS - all options I mentioned will require you to create some wrapper scripts to utilize APFS snapshots etc. There is no free open source project I am aware of which does all for you automatically. So prepare for some learning and basic scripting if you want to do this right.

Otherwise stick with Time Machine - which is far from perfect but has very low learning requirement barrier.

Whatever you go with I would recommend to use BTRFS and mirror disks on your raspbery pi. It will save you from a lot of issues and frustrations in the future.

And of course when talking about backup - always 3-2-1 rule.

Thanks for your thoughts @kapitainsky, that's really useful!

Actually leads me to some follow-up question, though:

  1. I have no idea what wrapper scripts are, but it feels like Kopia is working out of the box. At least, I did nothing special and it just started backing up like a trooper. I had to stop because it was taking too long, but I'll resume next week when I have more time. Am I missing something?

  2. Since I am using my ssd as a media player, I should probably keep the media files in exfat. Should I then make a partition in APFS for the backup part? Would that also be the way to go with Time Machine? I guess my other ssd (which I use with Time Machine is already APFS)

  3. I am not familiar with BTRFS; is that a format I should use for the ssd?

Now it has nothing to do with rclone so does not really belong to this forum.

If things work for you then great. You can make it always better later.

Any questions about kopia - use their forum.

Fair enough, fair enough. Thanks again.

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