I have suffered from lack of backups in the past. I have lost photographs (“mistakenly deleted”), knowledge documents painstakingly gathered from various sources (“still don’t have a clue where they went), and plan lost the password for the encrypted drive.
For me, there is no such thing as a “too many backups”.
But, I am still lazy. I do not want to intervene every day, week, or month to ensure that the files are getting copied from/to a couple of places I take backups in.
The only question when I started doing this was – “to what extent will my data be secure”. I have no problem with the cloud – I am not really anonymous on internet. At the same time, I would like some privacy.
In spite of data encryption provided by people like Dropbox, I decided to take the matter in my own hands. My search for software that can help do this had two requirements:
- Encrypt data – in the background, or on demand
- Sync up data with a designated backup folder
On the fly encryption or disk encryption was not something I was looking for – I could do remote backups where I need files to be encrypted while stored. That ruled good software like Free OTFE, TrueCrypt (now defunct), Microsoft’s own BitLocker or CCrypt. I started with popular encryption tools like Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), AxCrypt, and that worked well except for one problem.
The sync between my original folders and backup folders were becoming an issue. My method of using smaller utility programs had an issue –
- my backup file names could change – this brought in complexities in how I sync up the two folders
- there are more than one program running to do the same task
- the whole operation takes a longer time
There are commercial programs that can deal with this in a clean way, but why spend money when all it takes is stitching together various utilities?
The answer was right in front of my eyes – I could use my reliable zip program 7-zip to perform encryption tasks and do some command line wizardry to ensure files stay in sync.
Not to the liking of everyone, but it worked just fine with my Windows scheduler.
And then, as it happens often in my life – someone else had solved this problem in a much more effective manner. Enter Cryptsync.
Cryptsync – Encrypt, Sync
Cryptsync is a free, open source program that can encrypt your files, and sync those with a folder you specify.
The initial setup is pretty simple. Download Cryptsync, install it on your computer, and specify the source and target folders. You can specify many such “folder pairs”, and specify the encryption password for each pair.
The source folder is where the original files exist, the target is what gets created and maintained by cryptsync. Files in the target folder are encrypted.
In addition you may specify the time interval to check the source folders for any changes. In the above screenshot, the program has been setup to scan the folder every 30 minutes. Any new or updated files are encrypted and backed up in the target folder.
Cryptsync uses 7-zip program in the backend for encryption. In fact, you can specify all encrypted files to be created as 7-zip files. You can unzip the files using the standard 7-zip program, and the right password.
The biggest advantage is how this can be made to work with all the standard cloud backup solutions out there.
When you install Box, Dropbox, CloudDrive or any such programs on your computer, you are prompted to created a local copy that automatically synchronizes with the cloud. The local folder can be specified as a target folder in Cryptsync.
This results in two things –
- Any folder can be backed up in an encrypted format to your local folder
- The cloud backup solution (e.g. Dropbox) will sync those encrypted files with the cloud
At 4.2 MB for the unzipped program, Cryptsync is pretty valuable for what it does.
No additional programs, no additional schedulers, no clutter. Secure, simple, just works.
Cryptsync is free and open source.