Automated backups using cloud storage with rclone

There's a simple rule for file backups, the so-called 3-2-1 rule: 3 copies, 2 different media, 1 offsite. Applying this simple rule ensures that in the case of a calamity there is a high chance you are able to recover your files. However, creating automated offsite backups is not a trivial task. Luckily, rclone comes to the rescue.

Rclone is command-line tool similar to rsyncwith cloud storage support. This means that you can copy your files to cloud providers such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and many more with one single command, with the same ease of use as rsync. The full list of supported providers is available here and I think chances are high your cloud provider of choice will be supported.


The instructions to install rclone are located on the rclone website: You can even find an option to run rclone using Docker without installing it.


rcloneis well documented at However, below you can find the steps to quickly get started:

  1. Configure a remote cloud storage using rclone config. The configuration is stored in ~/.config/rclone.
  2. Use rclone sync <source_path> <remote_name>:<remote_path> to sync a directory with a remote cloud storage directory. Syncing ensures only differences are copied, saving bandwidth.
  3. Use rclone copy <source_path> <remote_name>:<remote_path> to fully copy the directory.

There are various other ways you can use rclone, and there are a lot of arguments available for use that you can use to optimize the command you want to use. Be sure to seek out the rclone manual.

Create a cronjob

Finally, add your rclone command to the crontab to ensure your files are synced or copied to your cloud storage provider on a recurring basis.

That's it, ensuring your files are backed up automatically to a cloud storage provider can't be any easier than rclone!

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