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Technical Documents

Why use Rsync over SSL?

If you want to use our rsync backup service you should be aware that your data is sent across the network unencrypted. If your data is sensitive enough that you would rather this didn’t happen, but not sensitive enough that you don’t mind it being stored unencrypted then you should consider running rsync over SSL.

N.B. This is currently an experimental service; we would appreciate feedback on its usefulness.


Rsync does not support SSL, but can be persuaded to by use of the stunnel tool (we use stunnel 3 in this example).

Our backup server listens on address, where joebloggs is the backup account name which usually the same as your VM or Dedicated Host’s account name, on port 8873. This script will start stunnel as a proxy on the client machine, run rsync across the proxy, then stop stunnel again.



stunnel -c -d localhost:$PORT -r -P $PID
sleep 0.5

RSYNC_PASSWORD=123456 rsync \
  --relative --archive --port=$PORT\
  /home /etc /other/directories/to/backup

kill `cat $PID`

Note that this script will not handle anything going wrong very gracefully, and
that rsync thinks that it’s talking to a server on the local machine.

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Nick Mason
Age Of Stupid

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