Olaf Greve wrote:

However, I seem to recall (not sure, anymore though) having heard and/or read (here, perhaps?) that there are better ways to synchronise than using rsync...

I guess you might have heard of ggated (8) & Co. This is quite different from rsync and might or might not be suited to your needs and configuration. It's more like ghosting in some way and you'll need a dedicated partition for our data. Also, AFAIK, you should not mount your data unless you know the other server failed or both are mounting this data read-only.
I never tested this myself, anyway.

What is best for you depends much on how you access your data. Is it read-only or read/write?

Also, I'd like to be able to (safely!) automatically synchronise users and groups that I may add/change/delete on the live server.

I'm using OpenLDAP and nss_ldap for that. Works very well, in that syncronization is virtually immediate. There are some caveats and this will introduce another possible point of failure, though.

Regarding the data, the machine is mainly used as a webserver, running PHP, MySQL and some other things.

WRT webserver data, it's just plain files, so it falls in the previous case. You should look for application level replication for databases. I don't think PHP matters, but I can't really tell without knowing what you really have. Same goes for "some other things".

1) Is rsync a good way to go, or are there better ways to do this?

See above, might be, might be not.

2) Regarding synching of user and group data: are there special ways to do this (i.e. including automatic creation of homedirectories etc.), or does one simply manually have to sync the users and groups files (and the user directories)?

See above for user and groups; home directories again fall into the filesystem part.

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