Backup to a FRITZ!Box NAS with restic and rclone

Data loss sucks! We’ve been all there. So one of the first things to setup on a fresh server is some sort of backup solution. The choice of software and strategies are huge and I am by no means an expert on this topic (or any).

Nonetheless, I will show you my setup using a sweet backup software called restic. It’s fast, secure and of course, open source.

Since I like to have my backups stored at home (also I am a cheap bastard), I will use rclone to save the backup directly to my harddrive connected to my FRITZ!Box. This gives me the benefit of cheap and physically available backup storage.


After the completion of this guide, you will be able to:

  1. Configure rclone to access your storage connected to your FRITZ!Box.
  2. Setup restic to backup your desired files to the rclone repository.
  3. Create a backup script and cronjob to periodically create incremental backups.


Make sure you have your FRITZ!Box set up correctly:

  • Able to access it via a dynamic hostname (e.g. myFRITZ!)
  • Allow an user to access the storage via FTPS

Software Installation#

To install restic and rclone you can either use the FreeBSD port collection or the pkg manager. I prefer pkg and therefore will omit the installation via the ports collection.

As root, update the pkg repository and install restic and rclone.

pkg update
pkg install restic rclone


Rclone Configuration#

Rclone is able to synchronize files to many different providers and has a lot of very cool features. It is quite useful in every scenario where you have to manage files in and outside of cloud storages.

To create a new configuration for a data storage, you have to run (as root):

rclone config

You will be guided through an interactive configuration wizard where you need to enter your account settings for your FRITZ!Box.

type = ftp
host =
user = myuser
port = 48656
pass = mypasswd

You also need to set options to make FTP/S work with the FRITZ!Box:

concurrency = 1          // Only one concurrent FTP connection for more stability (advanced settings)
tls = false              // Implicit TLS does not work with FRITZ!Box
explicit_tls = true      // Explicit TLS enabled

You should test the connection with the following command, where REMOTE_FOLDER is a valid folder on your harddrive connected to your FRITZ!Box. If everything is set up correcty you will get back the directory listing of REMOTE_FOLDER:


Restic configuration#

In order to backup any files with restic, we need a repository. It’s basically a set of files and directories where snapshots are saved. No databases or config files needed. Just simply elegant.

The repository will be created on your previously configured rclone storage RCLONE_CONFIG_NAME in the folder restic-repo. The folder should be created manually in advance.

Due to limitations of concurrent connections to the FRITZ!Box and restic being unable to read the settings from our rclone setup, we need to add -o rclone.connections=1 to avoid connection locks when accessing the FRITZ!Box.

restic init --repo rclone:RCLONE_CONFIG_NAME:/restic-repo -o rclone.connections=1

And the confirmation after setting your password (twice to confirm):

created restic repository 085b3c76b9 at rclone:RCLONE_CONFIG_NAME:/restic-repo 
Please note that knowledge of your password is required to access the repository.
Losing your password means that your data is irrecoverably lost.

Now you have your repository initialized and can start backing up files to it:

restic --repo rclone:RCLONE_CONFIG_NAME:/restic-repo backup /etc -o rclone.connections=1

Restic will open the repository rclone:RCLONE_CONFIG_NAME:/restic-repo for which it will demand your password and save all files and subfolders from /etc to it. If you run the command a second time, you will notice that only the changes will be added (increment) and therefore almost little to no data.

Congratulations! You made A backup of A folder. Let’s dig deeper….

Password file#

In order to use restic in your soon to have backup script, you can’t put in your password manually to open the repository.

Create a new file containing your password as user root. I suggest you put the file in /usr/local/etc as best practice. Make sure to set the appropriate file mode (root only read- and write access):

cd /usr/local/etc
echo 'SUPER_SECRET_PASSWORD' > restic-repo.passwd
chmod 600 restic-repo.passwd

To make restic use a password file you need to extend our previous command like with the option -p PASSWD_FILE:

restic -p /usr/local/etc/etc/restic-repo.passwd --repo rclone:RCLONE_CONFIG_NAME:/restic-repo backup /etc -o rclone.connections=1

Setting environments#

You probably noticed that our command gets tedious long already. To make our commands (and soon backup script) better readable, we can use environment variables which restic will read if set:

export RESTIC_PASSWORD_FILE=/usr/local/etc/restic-repo.passwd

This will shorten our previous command to restic backup /etc -o rclone.connections=1.


Good practices#

Include Files

Maybe you dont want to edit your backup script every time you want to add additional folders to your backup. Or you want to exclude file contained in your included folders. Here are some approaches on how to implement that:

Create a file called restic-repo.include in /usr/local/etc and change its file mode. You know the drill!

cd /usr/local/etc
touch restic-repo.include
chmod 600 restic-repo.include 

Use your favorite editor to add folders to restic-repo.include to include them in your backup. Previously we wanted to backup /etc, so our restic-repo.include should contain the folder /etc.

This will backup /etc and every subfolder. All you have to do now is to change the previous restic command to use your restic-repo.include:

restic backup $(cat /usr/local/etc/restic-repo.include) -o rclone.connections=1

Exclude Files

The process is pretty similar if you want to exclude files. In this simple example we only exclude a subfolder from a included folder. If you want a more complex exclude logic, you should check out the restic documentation on that topic.

Create a file called restic-repo.exclude in /usr/local/etc and change its file mode.

cd /usr/local/etc
touch restic-repo.exclude
chmod 600 restic-repo.exclude 

To exclude /etc/rc.d from our backup we add the folder to restic-repo.exclude.

Finally you have to extend your command:

restic backup $(cat /usr/local/etc/restic-repo.include) --exclude-file=/usr/local/etc/restic-repo.exclude -o rclone.connections=1

Show diff of last backup

To show the difference between two snapshots, we can use restic diff. This will give us all the files which have been added, removed or changed between two selected snapshots. To get the last two snapshots we can use restic snapshots --compact and some magic.

restic diff $(restic snapshots --compact | tail -n4 | head -n2 | cut -d' ' -f1)

Or logs will now contain a list of files which have been added in the latest backup.

Backup script#

Now you have everything set up to combine it into one backup script.

As root create a new file /usr/local/sbin/ and set the appropriate file permissions. Since the script should be executed we have to set the +x bit (chmod 700):

cd /usr/local/sbin
chmod 700

Use your favorite editor to create your script:


# Init
export RESTIC_PASSWORD_FILE=/usr/local/etc/restic-repo.passwd

echo "######################################################"
echo "Starting backup @ $(date)"
echo "######################################################"

# Run programs before your backup is done, e.g.:
# - Enable Mainenance mode of Nextcloud
# - Dump PostgreSQL Database to include in backup
# - Sleep

# Backup files with restic (rclone)
restic backup $(cat /usr/local/etc/restic-repo.include) --exclude-file=/usr/local/etc/restic-repo.include -o rclone.connections=1

# Summary of backup
restic diff $(restic snapshots --compact | tail -n4 | head -n2 | cut -d' ' -f1)

# Run programs AFTER your backup is done, e.g.:
# - Disable Mainenance mode of Nextcloud
# - Delete temporary database dump 
# - Send mail to admin


You can create a new crontab entry (as root) to run your script whenever you want (daily, weekly, etc.):

crontab -e

The following example entry runs the backup script every night @ 04:00 and appends the output to /var/log/restic.log:

0 4 * * * >> /var/log/restic.log

Conclusion and ideas for improvement#

I hope this simple example helps you setup your own backup strategy with restic and rclone so you can save your backups to your harddrive connected to your FRITZ!Box.

There are quite a few topics I haven’t covered or could be improved:

  • Access FRITZ!Box FTP via Wireguard and therefore restrict public access to FTP/S Server
  • Create newsyslog log file rotation
  • Send summary of backups via mail to yourself

Still, I hope you enjoyed this guide and found some input useful.