There are several Unix archive utilities. Most common is tar, but there's also a Linux ZIP, and cpio.
I do nightly backups using tar. The actual scheduling is done by the cron utility.
The vixie cron popular on Linux is set up with a set of script folders, including /etc/cron.daily and /etc/cron.weekly, where you can place executable scripts and they will run automatically. If you prefer a different scheduling arrangement, you can add entries to the /etc/crontab file.
Also, for non-system usage, each user account can have its own crontab. The format is slightly different from the system crontab.
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