Idiot-proof offsite backups?

At present, I am running Symbiosis on a Bytemark DH machine. It works well enough, but Bytemark isn’t what it was. At some point I shall need to move somewhere else.
Mythic Beasts is a prime candidate, even though I’ll not get such a good price as I have from Bytemark.
One thing I’m not keen to lose is the ability to rsync my backups every day.
With Bytemark, I get 100GB of backup storage in Manchester, which the backup script rsyncs from the York server each day.
This would just be too expensive with Mythic Beasts, so Plan B would be to rsync the backups to a hard disc at home.
In theory, this ought to be fairly easy to set up, but I’d have thought that most implementations would need this, so shouldn’t it be a standard feature of Sympl? (or perhaps it already is!)

Have you looked at Lightsail from Amazon? Works really well and you can easily install sympl there. Backups can be done locally the standard sympl way, but you can also attach a second drive and send them there. In addition, AWS Lightsail also offer a daily snapshot facility for a small fee which does the backups for you using their own mechanism. I am not a big fan of the final option as you cannot download those snapshots, but they work really well.

Currently it is costing me about half of what I was spending at Bytemark for a similar config.

I am not at all comfortable with cloudy stuff. I’d prefer to co-locate my own hardware, but that’s not really practical, so leasing the hardware is OK by me.
Although having my code (and customers’ businesses) in some nebulous cloud somewhere would be a lot cheaper, it is not something I want to do.
The one good thing about a cloud setup is presumably that it is all backed up for you, so you don’t need to do an off-site backup. After all, there isn’t a “site” to be “off”
[Later] I looked at the Lightsail prices. It would cost quite a bit more than my Bytemark DH. That’s a shock!

So you are using a bigger system than I thought. Probably need an EC2 server rather than Lightsail.

I do understand your concerns about cloud though, many people have similar concerns. You can specify a location, which is certainly a good thing. However it sounds like you would rather have your own hardware dedicated to your use. I fully understand that.

This is certainly something I want to add back to Sympl, as it was only removed as it could only use the old Bytemark backup space (which was deprecated a long time ago), so was only of use for a small handful of Symbiosis users.

This is the sort of thing which should be able to use a plugin system, similar to the one currently being developed for the updated sympl-ssl.

It should be fairly trivial to add relevant jobs to rsync the /var/backups directory with SSH space, and keep the usage below the remote quota.

That’s fairly easy to implement - the Symbiosis era pre- and post backups scripts are in the repo, so it should be fairly easy to update them to something a little more modern, so you only need to provide a hostname and username (and maybe path to the key?) in /etc/sympl.

It may have been deprecated a long time ago, but it still works for me. The only change is that the 100GB quota is now rigidly enforced. Under real Bytemark it was a bit more flexible and burstable, so on a major rollover date, it needs tweaking.

All my Bytemark servers were rented with a spare disk, that was a nightly clone of the main live system using rsync. Most finger trouble file loss was cured by using yesterday’s files. Then for eons. I’ve been using rsync to copy most of the non-system data (plus /etc) on my rented systems to a disk on my Linux gateway at home. It’s made a little easier by having a local static IP so data can be pushed from the systems.

OK, should something bad happen, I would have to reconfigure a new machine, upload the data and systems and start again, but that’s never happened. In the past, the most frequent problem was the need to repair or recover bits of databases. I always took a nightly snapshot of all databases, and that came down the line as a text file to be put on a DVD at the end of the month. Apart from that, the odd file has gone missing from time to time, and these were recovered from the backups if they were available yesterday.

Rsync systems are dead easy to setup - it’s also going in the ‘right’ direction for Broadband. The trick is to have a local user that is accessed by an ssh key, make the local part of rsync run as root so it has full access - so it can write files with everyone’s permissions.

From the ‘syscopy’ disk, I use amanda to save 30 days of backups onto a ‘tape carousel’ which is now a 2TB SSD disk. This started life dumping to DAT tape - but migrated to disks when the DAT tape become obsolete. Because I am paranoid about backups, I copy these dumps to another local system which has a spare disk.

There is some considerable re-assurance that my entire business is sitting safely in my control on systems that I can get with simple tools.

The problem with trying to create a system for everyone to use is that requirements differ, and things get cloaked in secrecy - I just want to be able to quickly recover things - and Amanda does that.

Ahoy there,

I conducted a price comparison between Bytemark and Mythic Beast service offerings a few weeks ago and Bytemark’s prices were more favourable at that time. What a shame Bytemark has discontinued further development of Symbiosis and hence the reason we are being forced to seek alternative solutions. Until I came across Sympl I was seriously considering Virtualmin as a hosting option but it looks as though Sympl will be the optimum way forward thanks to Paul’s hard work. I’m waiting for a bit more product maturity before I use Sympl for production hosting - so I’m currently monitoring the development of Sympl.

I love Bytemark’s cloud hosting products and particularly the following features:

Mature product documentation

E-Z to use control panel

Free backup space

DNS service

Ability to add or remove additional storage discs

Ability to resize system or storage discs

Ability to move discs

Relatively cost effective prices

UK hosted

As I would like to continue taking advantage of Bytemark’s mature and cost-effective infrastructure (because it’s really all I’ve used for the past 10yrs) I’m going to experiment with installing Sympl on a Bytemark Debian 10 server. It’s so easy to generate a cloud server and conduct some testing using the B’mark Ctl Panel. So I’m wondering whether anyone out there has attempted this already? If so, I’d welcome your feedback.

On the topic of backups I guess a cost effective solution would be to host on a Mythic Sympl VM and send backups externally to archive grade storage discs or a private NAS.

Best - Pete

With Symboisis I have created a share on my Synology Nas that I’ve setup to be accessible via ssh from the outside world. I’ve then added the following file which does the backup:


echo "  post-backup: send backups to nas"
rsync -av --fuzzy --delete-delay /var/backups/localhost user@host:/volume1/share/server_name

Change the user, host, and path as appropriate.

That’s great information. I have a couple of Synology NAS running here but I’m failing to access the NAS via SSH from the outside world. Could you kindly share the setup details please?

I don’t seem to have kept a log of the exact steps that I took. There’s several instruction lists available online, looks similar to what I done.

I’ve used the IPv6 address of the Nas to assign a hostname to minimise the NAT issues.

If you’ve got specific errors that you are getting, I might be able to help.

Tvm indeed Sir, I’ll give the guide at the link a try and revert in due course.
Rgds Pete

I’m hosting my VPS with Bitfolk ( with 100GB of their archive storage (similar to Bytemark’s archive storage) and offsite backup to a VPS with Contabo ( in Germany.

I do a daily rsync to the Bitfolk archive drive, but I’m also using borg to the same volume and for the offsite backups.

Contabo are ridiculously cheap at €3.99/month for entry level 300GB storage. It’s a proper VPS, not a dedicated rsync backup server. I wouldn’t use it for web hosting (I suspect it would be slow and laggy) but it’s fine for backups and as I’m self hosting DNS, the Contabo server is useful for secondary DNS too. I’ve had no trouble with it.

Bitfolk are recommended too - run by an enthusiastic geek who is very competent and helpful and believes in customer service. Cheaper than Mythic Beasts or Bytemark, but a possible risk because I think it’s a one-man band.

@compassweb I’d suggest moving your question about Sympl on Bytemark to a separate
thread so it doesn’t get lost in the noise in this one.


Good shout! Standby…

Thank you. I’ve signed up for a bitfolk account and given your email as the referrer.

The reasons to love Bytemark were splendid, but Bytemark is no the longer the Bytemark that earned the reputation.
Now it’s just another brand of a big organisation.
They abandoned Symbiosis development, their support is now less good, and they deleted the wiki without warning.
More like OhNoMart than anything else.

I think there was mention of using borg backups in sympl. Did that idea get shelved?
I’m currently setting up a new server on mythic beasts and have installed sympl, but I can’t help thinking that it would be better to use borgmatic instead of backup2l

If you’re going the borg route, don’t discount emborg as the frontend instead of borgmatic. I find its configuration scheme (particularly when sharing configurations) much easier to understand.


There are longer-term plans to review each element of Sympl to make it more maintainable longer term, but backup2l currently does the job needed - ie: it doesn’t take excessive resources and it’s fairly simple to restore even without using the application itself (it makes a bunch of .tar.gzip files which overlay one each other).

However, if you did want the backups to be ‘off-server’ you could add scripts to the pre-backup.d and post-backup.d directories in /etc/sympl/backup.d, either: mounting then dismounting space on a remote server via SSHFS or similar, or simply rsync the /var/backups directory over to the other box after the run, so this may be something for the Sympl Scripts repository.