My top 5 user-friendly GUI backup tools for the Linux desktop (and why you need one)

If you're not backing up your important files, you risk losing them. On the Linux operating system, there are plenty of GUI backup tools but these five are the ones any user can work with, regardless of experience.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
many penguins walking away
David Merron Photography/Getty Images

I have particular folders on my desktop that contain very important folders (such as my book manuscripts). Those folders must be backed up at all times, otherwise, I run into the possibility of losing hundreds or thousands of hours of work.

Ergo, I depend on a backup tool.

Also: The first 5 Linux commands every new user should learn

Fortunately, I use Linux, so there are plenty of options. And, because I don't like to spend too much time configuring things these days, I prefer my tools to be on the simple side. That's why I always depend on a GUI for my backups. 

But which one? Given how many options there are, I figure you might appreciate having that list narrowed down to a handful of apps. Each of these apps is free and available for nearly every Linux desktop available. And with the exception of one, they should all be installable from your desktop app store.

Let's get to those apps.

1. Déjà Dup

This is my backup tool of choice. Why? It's incredibly simple to use. And although it doesn't include all the features found in some of the other options listed here, it gets the job done. With Déjà Dup, you create a backup job, select the folder(s) you want to back up, select a location, and run it. It's that simple. There are, however, two things you need to understand about Déjà Dup. 

First, it doesn't just copy your files to the destination. Instead, it creates a compressed backup that you can (should you lose your files) restore with the help of Déjà Dup. The second thing is that, in order for Déjà Dup to schedule backups, you have to give it permission to run in the background. If you've installed Déjà Dup via Flatpak, you'll need to install an app called Flat Seal. If you've installed Déjà Dup via another means, you'll have to give the app permissions according to your desktop environment. Déjà Dup doesn't include much in the way of features, but it does allow you to encrypt your backups, which I would suggest doing. You can also configure how many backups to retain, from 3 months to forever.

2. Lucky Backup

For years, Lucky Backup was my jam. Not only is Lucky Backup easy to use, but it is a more traditional backup tool, in that it actually copies files (which means you could easily access those files from the backup destination). At the same time, Lucky Backup only copies the changes that were made to the source directory since the last backup. That saves space and time. 

Also: Zorin OS 17.1 makes it even easier to run your must-have Windows apps on Linux

Also, Lucky Backup preserves owner, group, time stamps, links, and permissions of the source files. Lucky Backup has both simple and advanced options, so if you're not terribly familiar with the world of backups, you'll still be able use this app. You'll also find exclude/include options, remote connections, restore, simulation runs, profiles, scheduling, email alerts, and even the ability to add the execution of any command(s) before or after a backup.

3. Duplicati

Duplicati is the one app that you won't find in your distribution app store. Instead, you have to download and install it from the Duplicati download page. Although Duplicati is easy to use, I wouldn't say Duplicati is the best choice for those new to backups and Linux. One of the reasons for this is that Duplicati doesn't have a standalone app. Instead, you access Duplicati from a web browser. Once you're on the Duplicati page, you'll find it's fairly straightforward. 

Duplicati is, however, very powerful. This solution is also very security-focused, so you can be certain your backups are safe with AES-265 encryption. You'll also be warned if your encryption password is too weak. Duplicati supports a wide range of backup destinations, from local stores, Amazon S3 buckets, Dropbox, SMB/CIFS, NAS, and many more. As well, the feature set is impressive and even includes a set of command-line tools and the ability to execute scripts before or after a backup runs.

4. Pika Backup

I place Pika Backup in the same category as Déjà Dup. It's very simple to use, has only the features you need, and allows you to create local or remote backups, schedule backups, encrypt backups, and more. Pika Backup uses the BorgBackup as its base, which is a good thing (as BorgBackup is very powerful and reliable. Also…resistance is futile). Unlike Déjà Dup, Pika Backup is a file-level utility, which means you can access your backed-up files from your default file manager. 

Also: The top 5 GNOME extensions I install first (and what they can do for you)

Another very handy feature is that Pika Backup supports backups via SSH, which means you can create remote backups that are secure by design. So, if you prefer to back up your important data to a server on your local area network, this is a great option. During the backup creation, you can either create a new repository to house the backup or use an existing repository (such as one created with BorgBackup).

5. Grsync

Grsync is a front-end for the powerful rsync command line utility. Anyone who's used Linux long enough has run into rsync because it's great for creating backup scripts. But if you don't want to mess with the command line, Grsync is an outstanding option. Although Grsync doesn't support every rsync feature, it includes enough to make the creation and management of your backups simple. 

Grsync offers plenty of features and even includes session-saving and backups over SSH. As for advanced options, Grsync allows you to set compression, symbolic link management, and gives you options for dealing with partial files. There's also an Extra Options tank, which enables you to add custom commands to run for certain situations (such as before sync starts, after a backup completes, on failure, or if rsync throws an error).

Also: My 5 favorite multimedia player apps for Linux

There is no reason for you to not back up your important files and folders. With these five apps, you don't have to worry that creating and managing your backups will challenge you in any way. These tools are user-friendly and reliable. And, best of all, they're all free.

Editorial standards