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How to Backup to SFTP?

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Jul 19, 2019

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Backup4all supports backing up to a remote computer or device using SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) connection. This is also practical backup destination because the backed up data can be easily accessed from any other computer with an Internet connection.

On this page:

Defining SFTP configuration

Before using SFTP as a destination for backing up, you should define a new SFTP configuration using the File -> Options -> Online destinations -> SFTP window. Once defined, you will be able to apply this SFTP configuration to individual backup jobs.
Press the Add button once in File -> Options -> Online destinations -> SFTP to add a new SFTP connection. The New SFTP configuration name will appear in the list and you can enter the other settings for this connection:
  • Configuration name - Enter here an arbitrary name for the connection.
  • Server name or IP - In this field you have to enter the name or IP address for the SFTP server
  • Port - In this field you have to enter the port number if different than the default SFTP ports (22).
  • Destination folder - Here you can enter the destination path if different than root.
  • User name - If this is a private SFTP server (no anonymous access allowed) enter the user name for your account.
  • Password - In this field enter the password for the SFTP server.
In the When SFTP server not ready section you can enter the number of attempts and time between those attempts to connect to the SFTP server. By default, if the SFTP server is not reachable, Backup4all will try 5 times at a 60 seconds delay before aborting the backup. You can increase or decrease these values using the Retry and Wait fields.
Additional settings like private key, bandwidth limitation, authentications, encryption and compression can also be configured from this page.
Once you have finished defining the connection, press the Test button to check if the SFTP details you have entered are correct. If the test was successful, The "sftp connection was tested successfully" message will be displayed.

Setting the destination to SFTP

When defining a new backup job using the New Backup Wizard, select the SFTP option in the destination section (1st page of the wizard). If you already have a backup job defined and want to change the destination to SFTP, select that backup job, open the Properties window (Ctrl+P), go to the Destination page and select SFTP server. After that, go to SFTP server page and specify an existing SFTP configuration or create a new one.
From the Use existing configuration select an already defined SFTP configuration (given that you added one in the File -> Options -> Online destinations -> SFTP window). The description of the selected SFTP configuration will be listed bellow.
You can change the defined settings by selecting the Custom configuration option and pressing the Edit configuration button. Here you can modify the data in the fields and press OK to save. However, if you do changes, it is recommended to use the Test SFTP connection button to see if the SFTP settings are correct.
Once you press the OK button, Backup4all will try to connect to the SFTP server to see if a backup catalog already exists on the destination. If the SFTP destination is not available, a Cannot connect to the SFTP server message is displayed in the status bar (bottom of the main window).
In the File -> Options -> Backup window you can set the number of retries and the time between the retries when the SFTP server is unavailable (the "When destination not ready" section).

Recommendations for backing up to SFTP

  • After each change to the SFTP configuration make sure you use the Test function.
  • Most SFTP sites have policies against hammering (trying repeatedly to connect to an unavailable SFTP server with little or no time between connection attempts). Thus they require SFTP clients to set retry times at specific intervals, commonly at least 120 seconds between each attempt to connect. Most SFTP sites can also monitor for devices that hammer, and once detected the server will ban access to the offending IP address either permanently or for a limited amount of time. Thus, when you set the retry times intervals in File -> Options -> Online destinations -> SFTP, you should use 60 seconds or more.
  • If you backup important data to a remote location using SFTP, encrypt the zip files for increased security. In this case, even if another person manages to gain unauthorized access to the SFTP, your files will still be protected.