Linux backup: This is how you back up your Linux computer

Linux backup: This is how you back up your Linux computer

Computer data can be backed up manually or automatically in Linux. We'll show you two common methods to create a Linux backup.

From André Gabriel

Regardless of which system you use, regular data backups are important. This applies above all to personal files such as images that are in the Linux home directory. The "/ etc" folder is also happy to have a Linux backup because it contains all global configuration files such as the network settings.

Manual Linux backup with Rsync

There are different backup solutions for Linux. One of them is called Rsync. The method is suitable for local systems that are not actively accessed by other systems in the network. You can use it to create a complete backup in order to save the entire Linux system in a meaningful way – provided that Rsync is installed. Compared to others, the variant is particularly quick and easy . That's how it's done:

  1. Insert an external hard drive or connect a USB stick.
  2. Find the appropriate drive with the command "fdisk -l".
  3. Mount the drive in any folder – for example under "/ mnt".
  4. Open the terminal – under Ubuntu for example with "[Ctrl] + [Alt] + [T]".
  5. Run the following command as the root user: $ sudo rsync -aAXv / –exclude = {"/ dev / *", "/ proc / *", "/ sys / *", "/ tmp / *", "/ run / * "," / mnt / * "," / media / * "," / lost + found "} / mnt

The command is based on the example that you selected "/ mnt" in the third step. Then you created a Linux backup without the following directories: / dev, / proc, / sys, / tmp, / run, / mnt, / media, / lost + found. This is important to prevent an infinite loop.

The "-aAXv" command ensures that the files are transferred in archive mode in order to secure symbolic links, devices, permissions, property rights, modification times, ACLs and extended attributes.

Linux backup by tool: Back In Time

There are programs that enable automatic Linux backups. Well-known ones include Déjà Dup and Back In Time – the surfaces and functions are similar. We outline data backup using the example of Back In Time. Here, too, a USB stick or an external hard drive can be used as a storage location for the Linux system.

The program supports Gnome and KDE and therefore works well with Ubuntu, for example. Xfce and other desktop environments are also not a problem. Additional advantages of Back In Time: Outdated backups are automatically deleted and individual file versions can also be restored.

In order to create a Linux backup with the software – called "snapshot" here – you have to install it. To do this, enter the command "sudo apt-get install backintime-qt4" in the terminal. After you have installed Back In Time, you will find the Linux backup tool in the start menu as follows:

  • default
  • root version

To back up system files, such as those in the "/ etc" directory, you have to use the root version. Temporary files, integrated network folders, the recycle bin and working copies should not be included in the Linux backup.

How to create a Linux backup with Back In Time :

  1. Start the program.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Determine the location.
  4. Define the "Schedule" – we recommend "Repetitive (anacron)".
  5. Click the Include tab.
  6. Specify the files to be backed up via "Add file".
  7. Use "Add Folder" to add complete folders.
  8. Click the "Exclude" tab.
  9. Leave the list as it is or add further files etc. using the plus symbols – for example network shares in the Backup_HDD folder.
  10. Click the "Automatically Remove" tab.
  11. Activate "intelligent deletion" if necessary and adjust the settings.
  12. Check the settings in the "Options" tab and adjust them if necessary.
  13. Check the settings in the "Settings for experts" tab and adjust them if necessary.
  14. Finish the configuration by clicking on "OK".
  15. Take a snapshot.

Automatic backups take place while the computer is running. If you select "Repeating (anacron)" in the fourth step, the system will do the Linux backup as soon as the computer is (again) active. Do you use a laptop? Then, in the "Options" tab, check the box next to "Disable snapshots in battery mode".

As soon as a backup is available, you will see it in the main menu on the left . If you select a snapshot there, you can restore files, folders or a full backup in the right window. To do this, right-click on a file and click on "Restore".

By default, Back In Time stores the backups in the main profile. But you can also create additional profiles. To use a full backup predefined by the program, click in the profile menu on "Change for full system backup" and set the schedule.


  1. Regular data backups are also recommended for Linux users.
  2. Backing up the home directory is particularly important.
  3. You can create a very fast manual Linux backup with Rsync.
  4. Back In Time is a tool for automatic Linux backups.
  5. A comparable alternative for automatic backups is called Déjà Dup.

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