A tutorial explaining my current backup setup with restic and Wasabi and why I moved from Borg and SSH


Edit (2020): I highly discourage using Wasabi. They have a very misleading pricing policy and you will end up with bad surprises on your invoices at the end of the month.

For the past few months, I have been using Borg to backup my servers. It was working great and was pretty reliable, but a bit complicated.

My previous setup: SSH + Rsync + Borg

Here’s the setup:

  • The backup server rsync files to its local drive
  • The backup server makes databases dumps over SSH to its local drive
  • Then it uses Borg via borgmatic to store all the files in a tidy way.

This is quite simple, but it took me a lot of work to get good bash scripts and YAML borgmatic files (example). Borg is great, it handles deduplication, compression, encryption…

I could’ve used Borg in push mode (uploading to the backup server via Borg), but its append-only mode does not make any sense, so I decided to use a pull mode. Thus, I did not use encryption since the key would be on the backup server anyway.

My backup server was a dedicated server from Kimsufi, which costed me about 10€/month for a 2 TB hard drive. It was a good deal but the Atom CPU was very weak and Borg does not handle multi-threading so it was quite slow. Also, the downside of having one, big hard drive is the remaining unused space and the lack of redundancy. For the latter, I rsynced the borg repositories to one of my computer at home, but…

Anyway, this setup was not so bad, but in terms of speed and redundancy, I could find better.

The choice of the backup tool

I decided that I would backup my servers to an S3-compatible storage provider, in push mode, so I began to search for Borg alternatives that supported this kind of backend.

I think the best one is Duplicacy, a software written in Go, because it’s the fastest and more mature solution. They have a detailed README explaining why they’re the best.

However it has 2 downsides for me: first, it’s open-source, but not under a Free license. I’m okay with this, but it’s worth to be noted. Second, it does not handle sdtin backup (for dumps) - at least I couldn’t find how.

This is a deal breaker for me, since I want to use a push mode. The best alternative I found was restic, also written in Go. It’s nearly as fast a Duplicacy and support stdin backups. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t support compression yet, but it will do for now.

See gilbertchen/benchmarking for some detailed performance benchmarks.

restic handles encryption very easily and this is a very important aspect because, when I had my backup server, I could have used some encryption but at leat I had control over my server. Using an Object Storage Provider means I don’t know how my data will be handled so encryption is mandatory.

The choice of the storage provider

A few weeks ago, I was moving my Mastodon media files to Wasabi, a cheap AWS S3-like service. I really like the service so I began considering using it for my backups.

Since all my backup can be contained in less than 1 TB, I will still be paying $5/month along with my mastodon stuff. That’s awesome!

wasabi pricing

Wasabi is not only cheap but fast. Though, I’m in Europe and their datacenters are in the US. But I know they are planning to get in Europe this year, so I can only look forward to it!

Spaces is the fastest but Wasabi is not far behind

Spaces is the fastest but Wasabi is not far behind

Setting up Wasabi

Now that I have you convinced that this is best combo ever, let’s get started by setting up Wasabi.

Create an account

You can sign up for free on Wasabi and get a 1 TB free trial for 30 days.

Then you’re going to need 2 things:

  • A bucket
  • A user

Creating a bucket

You should be able to do that by yourself. Be aware that you have to choose a unique bucket name.

Creating a user with a correct policy

Then, create a user, name it however you want, and get API keys. I recommend to store them in your password manager.

Then we’ll need to create and attach a policy for this user in order to give it full access to the bucket while restraining it to this bucket only. Here’s the one I use, my-backup-bucket being the name of my bucket.

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": "s3:ListBucket",
      "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::my-backup-bucket"
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": ["s3:PutObject", "s3:GetObject", "s3:DeleteObject"],
      "Resource": "arn:aws:s3:::my-backup-bucket/*"

Then go to the “Permissions” tab for your user and attach the policy.

We’re good to go!

Setting up restic

Installing restic

See the documentation for installing restic. All my servers are running Debian stretch but the version in the repos is quite old.

In order to get the latest version, I install it from the testing/sid repository. It doesn’t cause any issue since the only dependency of restic is libc.

First, add the sid repo in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/sid.list :

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian sid main

Then add the pin in /etc/apt/preferences.d/restic :

Package: *
Pin: release n=stretch
Pin-Priority: 990

Package: restic
Pin: release n=sid
Pin-Priority: 1000

Package: *
Pin: release n=sid
Pin-Priority: -1

Run apt-update and you should get:

root@server:~# apt-cache policy restic
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate = 0.9.1+ds-1
  Version table:
     0.9.1+ds-1 1000
         -1 http://deb.debian.org/debian sid/main amd64 Packages
     0.3.3-1+b2 990
        990 http://http.us.debian.org/debian stretch/main amd64 Packages

You can now proceed to install the package.

Setting up the keys

I have a ~/.restic-keys on all my servers containing:

export RESTIC_PASSWORD=<some long random password>

The first two variables correspond to your Wasabi Access and Secret keys. The RESTIC_PASSWORD will be used to encrypt the backups.

You can now do a source ~/.restic-keys to export the keys to your shell.

Create a repository

root@server:~# restic init --repo s3:s3.wasabisys.com/my-backup-bucket
created restic repository e9ed581d94 at s3:s3.wasabisys.com/my-backup-bucket

Please note that knowledge of your password is required to access
the repository. Losing your password means that your data is
irrecoverably lost.

Backup a folder

root@server:~# restic -r s3:s3.wasabisys.com/my-backup-bucket backup /etc/apt/
repository e9ed581d opened successfully, password is correct

Files: 19 new, 0 changed, 0 unmodified
Dirs: 1 new, 0 changed, 0 unmodified
Added: 40.609 KiB

processed 19 files, 39.960 KiB in 0:04
snapshot bb3030dc saved

See the deduplication at work:

root@server:~# restic -r s3:s3.wasabisys.com/my-backup-bucket backup /etc/apt/
repository e9ed581d opened successfully, password is correct

Files: 0 new, 0 changed, 19 unmodified
Dirs: 0 new, 0 changed, 1 unmodified
Added: 0 B

processed 19 files, 39.960 KiB in 0:03
snapshot c577544a saved

List snapshots

root@server:~# restic -r s3:s3.wasabisys.com/my-backup-bucket snapshots
repository e9ed581d opened successfully, password is correct
ID Date Host Tags Directory
bb3030dc 2018-07-29 19:01:48 server.guest /etc/apt
c577544a 2018-07-29 19:02:16 server.guest /etc/apt
2 snapshots

Do many others things!

I won’t cover every feature here so please take a look at the docs!

Some interesting stuff:

By the way, deduplication does work with stdin backups!

Automatise the backups using bash and cron

On my servers, I have a backup script that looks like this:


source .restic-keys
export RESTIC_REPOSITORY="s3:s3.wasabisys.com/{{ ansible_hostname }}-backup"

echo -e "\n`date` - Starting backup...\n"

restic backup /etc
restic backup /root --exclude .cache --exclude .local
restic backup /home/stanislas --exclude .cache --exclude .local
restic backup /var/log
restic backup /srv/some-website

mysqldump database | restic backup --stdin --stdin-filename database.sql

echo -e "\n`date` - Running forget and prune...\n"

restic forget --prune --keep-daily 7 --keep-weekly 4 --keep-monthly 12

echo -e "\n`date` - Backup finished.\n"

Easy right?

I execute the script at night with some nice and ionice:

0 4 * * * ionice -c2 -n7 nice -n19 bash /root/backup.sh > /var/log/backup.log 2>&1

And we’re done!


I think I have covered everything you need to know about my current backup setup. restic is an awesome software and Wasabi is fast and reliable.

Here are some numbers: one server with ~3 GB of files and databases is backed up in one minute, and another server with ~50 GB in about 10 minutes. I just wish there was compression!

Here is the improvements I can think of for this setup :