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Backing up your dedicated server on Object Storage with Duplicity

Reviewed on 09 April 2024Published on 13 October 2018
  • duplicity
  • backup
  • gpg
  • s3

In this article, we will learn how to back up data from a Scaleway Instance, using Scaleway’s Object Storage service and Duplicity. Duplicity is a free and open-source tool that backs up folders to a remote server, in this case, an Object Storage bucket. Using libsync and GPG, Duplicity can make space-efficient encrypted backups.

Our objectives are to:

  • Make production-ready automatic backups of our data.
  • Save cost using bandwidth and space-efficient incremental backups.
  • Preserve a robust layer of security and privacy with asymmetrical encryption.

To achieve this, we will:

  • Create a bucket in Scaleway’s Object Storage
  • Install Duplicity
  • Generate a GPG key
  • Combine Duplicity and Scaleway Object Storage

Although this tutorial focuses on backing up an Instance, you can also back up a dedicated server with Duplicity. When you are using a Scaleway Dedibox or a Scaleway Elastic Metal server, the data transfer is free of charge within the same region.

Before you start

To complete the actions presented below, you must have:

  • A Scaleway account logged into the console
  • Owner status or IAM permissions allowing you to perform actions in the intended Organization
  • A valid API key
  • An Instance running Ubuntu or Debian

Creating an Object Storage bucket

Follow the instructions to create an Object Storage bucket. This bucket will be used to back up your Instance’s data.

Installing software requirements

In this step, we install the various software needed. As well as installing Duplicity itself, Duplicity needs us to generate a GPG key so that it can encrypt the data. For GPG key generation, we need to create some entropy, so we also install Haveged to generate a small amount of entropy.


You can find the link to the latest version of Duplicity on their website. You may replace the link used with wget (and therefore tar and cd) if a newer version is available.

Run the following command to update the APT package manager, upgrade the software already installed on the server and download and install Duplicity and the other required software:

apt update && apt upgrade
apt install -y python3-boto python3-pip haveged gettext librsync-dev
tar xaf duplicity-rel.2.1.2.tar.gz
cd duplicity-rel.2.1.2/
pip3 install -r requirements.txt
python3 install

Creating a GPG key

  1. Generate the GPG key with the following command.

    gpg --full-generate-key

    Enter and remember a passphrase. You are asked to define the characteristics of your keys. We go with the default settings:

    • What kind of key you want: (1) RSA and RSA (default)
    • What key size you want: (3072)
    • How long the key should be valid: 0 = key does not expire

    GPG then asks for a name for your key, an address, and a description.

    gpg --full-generate-key
    gpg (GnuPG) 2.1.18; Copyright (C) 2017 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
    This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
    There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.
    Please select what kind of key you want:
    (1) RSA and RSA (default)
    (2) DSA and Elgamal
    (3) DSA (sign only)
    (4) RSA (sign only)
    Your selection? 1
    RSA keys may be between 1024 and 4096 bits long.
    What keysize do you want? (3072) 3072
    Requested keysize is 3072 bits
    Please specify how long the key should be valid.
    0 = key does not expire
    <n> = key expires in n days
    <n>w = key expires in n weeks
    <n>m = key expires in n months
    <n>y = key expires in n years
    Key is valid for? (0) 0
    Key does not expire at all
    Is this correct? (y/N) y
    GnuPG needs to construct a user ID to identify your key.
    Real name: backups
    Email address:
    Comment: Scaleway Object Storage backups
    You selected this USER-ID:
    backups (Scaleway Object Storage backups) <>
    Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit? O
    We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform
    some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the
    disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number
    generator a better chance to gain enough entropy.
    gpg: key XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX marked as ultimately trusted
    public and secret key created and signed.
    pub rsa3072 2020-03-26 [SC]
    uid backups (Scaleway Object Storage backups) <>
    sub rsa3072 2020-03-26 [E]
  2. Copy the GPG key fingerprint (its location in the output is shown above), which could be an 8, 16 or 40 char long hash. You can also find the fingerprint of your key with the following command:

    gpg --list-keys
    gpg: checking the trustdb
    gpg: marginals needed: 3 completes needed: 1 trust model: pgp
    gpg: depth: 0 valid: 1 signed: 0 trust: 0-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 1u
    pub rsa3072 2020-03-26 [SC]
    uid [ultimate] backups (Scaleway Object Storage backups) <>
    sub rsa3072 2020-03-26 [E]

If you lose access to your current server, having the GPG private and public keys stored somewhere else will come in handy. Export the GPG keys with:

gpg --armor --export backups
gpg --armor --export-secret-key backups

Combining Duplicity and Scaleway

As everything is installed and ready, we will now configure and script our interactions between our server and the cloud.

Editing the configuration

  1. Create our initial, empty script files and log files and make them executable.
    touch .scw-configrc
    chmod 700
    chmod 600 .scw-configrc
    mkdir -p /var/log/duplicity
    touch /var/log/duplicity/logfile{.log,-recent.log}
  2. Add the following lines to .scw-configrc. Make sure you replace the necessary values with the details of your Scaleway API key, Object Storage bucket, and GPG key. You also need to enter a path to the desired backup folder:
    # Scaleway credentials keys
    export SCW_ENDPOINT_URL="https://s3.${SCW_REGION}"
    # set SCW_BUCKET as follows for duplicity < 0.8.23
    # for higher versions, see below
    # export SCW_BUCKET="s3://s3.${SCW_REGION}<NAME OF YOUR BUCKET>"
    # set the next two variables for duplicity >= 0.8.23
    # it uses the boto3 library, which uses a different naming scheme for bucket names
    export SCW_BUCKET="s3://<NAME OF YOUR BUCKET>"
    # GPG Key information
    # Folder to backup
    # Will keep backup up to 1 month
    export KEEP_BACKUP_TIME="1M"
    # Will make a full backup every 10 days
    export FULL_BACKUP_TIME="10D"
    # Log files
    export LOGFILE_RECENT="/var/log/duplicity/logfile-recent.log"
    export LOGFILE="/var/log/duplicity/logfile.log"
    log () {
    date=`date +%Y-%m-%d`
    hour=`date +%H:%M:%S`
    echo "$date $hour $*" >> ${LOGFILE_RECENT}
    export -f log

The backup policy described here makes a full backup every 10 days and removes all backups older than one month.

Backup script

Using the configuration and Duplicity, we automatize the backup process with the script.

  1. Copy the following script to

    source <FULL PATH TO>/.scw-configrc
    currently_backuping=$(ps -ef | grep duplicity | grep python | wc -l)
    if [ $currently_backuping -eq 0 ]; then
    # Clear the recent log file
    cat /dev/null > ${LOGFILE_RECENT}
    log ">>> removing old backups"
    duplicity remove-older-than \
    --s3-endpoint-url ${SCW_ENDPOINT_URL} \
    --s3-region-name ${SCW_REGION} \
    # duplicity >= 0.8.23
    # determine S3_ENDPOINT_URL for scaleway
    log ">>> creating and uploading backup to Scaleway Glacier"
    duplicity \
    incr --full-if-older-than ${FULL_BACKUP_TIME} \
    --asynchronous-upload \
    --s3-use-glacier \
    --s3-endpoint-url ${SCW_ENDPOINT_URL} \
    --s3-region-name ${SCW_REGION} \
    --encrypt-key=${GPG_FINGERPRINT} \
    --sign-key=${GPG_FINGERPRINT} \
  2. Run the script ./ to make sure the configuration is correctly set. Check the Object Storage bucket on the Scaleway console to see the backup files, or examine the logs with the following command:

    cat /var/log/duplicity/logfile-recent.log

Script the recovery of data

Duplicity also allows you to recover a backup. We will create a script to make the process easier.

  1. Add the following script to
    source <FULL PATH TO>/.scw-configrc
    if [ $# -lt 2 ]; then
    echo -e "Usage $0 <time or delta> [file to restore] <restore to>
    \t$ $0 2018-7-21 recovery/ ## recovers * from closest backup to date
    \t$ $0 0D secret data/ ## recovers most recent file nammed 'secret'";
    exit; fi
    if [ $# -eq 2 ]; then
    duplicity \
    --s3-endpoint-url ${SCW_ENDPOINT_URL} \
    --s3-region-name ${SCW_REGION} \
    --time $1 \
    ${SCW_BUCKET} $2
    if [ $# -eq 3 ]; then
    duplicity \
    --s3-endpoint-url ${SCW_ENDPOINT_URL} \
    --s3-region-name ${SCW_REGION} \
    --time $1 \
    --file-to-restore $2 \
    ${SCW_BUCKET} $3
  2. Recover the data you uploaded in the previous section with the following command:
    ./ 0D /tmp/backup-recovery-test/
  3. Alternatively, recover one specific file with the following format from a backup 5 days ago with:
    ./ 5D <file> /tmp/backup-recovery-test/

Automation of the backups

  1. Use the command crontab -e to edit your crontab file and add the line to create a script that will run twice a day at 1:00 and 13:00 (1 AM and 1 PM) :
    crontab -e
  2. Select your editor and write:
    00 1,13 * * * <FULL PATH TO>/ > /dev/null 2>&1


We created an automatic backup using Duplicity, hosting the encrypted data on Scaleway’s Object Storage. We are able to recover specific files or the entire backup itself at a given date.

To continue your implementation, you may want to consider the following:

  • Duply, giving you a front-end view of the backups.
  • Backing up more than one folder using “SOURCE=/” and the --include= and --exclude= options of duplicity.
  • Adapt the backup policy with more frequent backups, that are conserved.
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