Use the LS as a Backup Medium

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This article Based on work by nix, ultravelours, and nobody. Originally by

How to use the LS as a Backup Medium

One of the original functions of the LinkStation is to serve as a backup device for other computers in a network. Buffalo already ships a Windows backup tool with the LS, but that tool can turn out to be unsutable for a particular purpose, particular if you want to back-up data from a non-Windows system to the LS.

This article over time will summarize various methods and tools to pack-up data from some computer to the LinkStation.

Windows SyncToy or Offline Files

If you have SAMBA running on the LinkStation, you can map the drives on your client PCs and use offline file synchronization (if you log-in one user at a time) or SyncToy (if you need fast user switching). This is a simple way to synchronize files between a windows PC and a LinkStation

Windows EasyBackup

EasyBackup ships with the LinkStation and TerraStation in various forms, versions and under various names. The following tries to provide a short overview.

Windows LsBackup/EasyBackup 1.02

LsBackup 1.02, alias EasyBackup 1.02 ships on the LinkNavigator 3.00 installation CD. The contents of this CD is actually newer then what Buffalo currently (Sep. 2005) provides on their various non-Japanese download sides.

EasyBackup 1.02 showed to be unstable in real operation.

Windows LsBackup/EasyBackup 1.05

Version 1.05 is currently available on Buffalo's Japanese website [[1]]. The version has a Japanese user interface and shows similar problems than EasyBackup 1.02

Windows TerraBackup/EasyBackup 1.13

Buffalo has an updated English EasyBackup version 1.13 available for the TerraStation [[2]]. This version also communicates with the LinkStations. Compared to earlier EasyBackup versions this version actually turned out be be much stabler, also when used with a LinkStation instead of a TerraStation.

Windows 98 Microsoft Backup

Windows 98 ships with an own backup program, actually developed by Seagate, which can also be used to back up files to a LinkStation. An LS share needs to be connected. Then it is possible to create the @@.qic@@ backup file on this share.


Unix / Linux


Backing up Linux or Unix data to the LinkStation is not different from the usual methods for backing up data from Unix / Linux systems. Assuming(!), that the LinkStation has been opened. Opening the LS is necessary, because the LS doesn't come with the necessary setup (file system, protocols).

It is typical under Unix to use simple backup tools which write to devices like tapes, raw partitions, or backup files on a file system. If the backup is in the for of one or more (archive) files, then configuring the LS to support NFS (Unix's widely used network file system) is a good idea. That way the backup software can place the backup files from remote onto the LS. Tools like rdump(1m) and rsync'(1), work slightly different. They use a remote login - which also requires an opened LinkStation to be configured.

Typically, backups are scheduled via cron(8), where cron is used to call a script which then in turn uses one of the following tools at the heart of the backup procedure.


cpio(1L) is rarely used on Unix these days - except for backups, where it is typically used at the core of some backup scripts. The reason for this are

  1. cpio can back up block and character special files. Something which standard tar can't (but GNU tar can).
  2. cpio can read a list of files to-be-backed-up from standard input. This makes it possible to feed the output of find(1) to cpio. And this in turn is used to implement incremental backup procedures. find is used to identifiy files which are newer than the last backup time, and cpio is used to incrementaly back up these files, too.


tar(1) allows for backing up simple files, and GNU tar also allows to back up special files. Therefore cpio is the better choice, compared to tar, unless GNU tar is available.


dump is often called ufsdump on Unix SVR4 and SVR4 derivates, since dump on SVR4 is a program to list parts of binary

dump(8) has becomme a little bit out of fashion in recent times. It originally appeared on BSD Unix, and was ported to other Unix versions. There is also a dump version for Linux available [[3]].

Among other destinations dump can write to a file, e.g. a file residing on the LinkStation on an NFS-exported file system. It can also copy the data via an own remote protocol, using rmt(8). rmt is actually intended to make a tape drive available from remote (rmt = remote magnetic tape), but can be used to write remote files. However, this is rather unsave. Therefore, using dump to copy to a remote LinkStation file is the better mechanism. And by the way, the LS by default does not contain a copy of rmt.


rsync(1) is a remote-copy, remote-synchronisation program. It can work with a particular rsync server, or it can work via remote-login. The latter is the common mode of operation.

rsync synchronizes local and remote files and file systems, and can therefore be used for simple backups of normal files, as well as special files (devices). rsync is popular, because it can work via remote login (even over ssh), and it tries to optimize the transfered data by only transfering the difference between two file versions. The smallest unit of other tools is typically a whole file.

rsync basically creates 1:1 copies of existing directory trees. It does not directly support incremental backups (not to be confused with the incremental updates it does), and it requires syncing to multiple remote destinations if a backlog of backups (snapshots in time) is supposed to be kept. On the other hand it reduces network traffic for your backup and there are tutorials to set up some kind of ["snapshot-style"] incremental backups without using too much disk space (although it reduces redundancy for your archive).

If your running Mac OS X, please refer to Articles/Macintosh

Mac OS X

to be written, it's just another version of Unix - but you need to take care of metadata issues, multi forked files and other HFS+ oddities; see Articles/Macintosh

LinkStation to LinkStation

Since LinkStations are Linux systems, everything from the Unix Chapter applies here, too.

See also