Recently, I needed to sync several directories on a backup / fail-over server with the same directories on a production server. Rsync over SSH takes care of this, but if you want to tighten security, you must use the “command” restriction in the SSH authorized_keys file — This restricts the authenticated key to running a single command, with a specific set of arguments. For example, let’s look at a typical command that might be run from a backup server to rsync daily database dumps:
backup$ rsync -av --delete -e "ssh -i $HOME/.ssh/prod-rsync-key" \
When an encrypted VPN is not available, the next best solution is usually port-forwarding one or more port(s) through an SSH tunnel. The down-side of SSH is that by itself it cannot maintain a persistent connection — network issues may force the tunnel to stop responding, or even drop completely. Autossh is a small front-end for SSH that can monitor the connection, and restart the tunnel if it drops or stops responding. I found that the startup scripts available for autossh on the internet were a little too basic for my needs — I wanted autossh to start multiple connections, and to start/stop each one individually if I needed — so I wrote my own.