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Learn how to – How Backup Files and Folders in Linux using BackInTime Tool

Learn how to – How Backup Files and Folders in Linux using BackInTime Tool.

File backup is creating a copy of important data files or folders and storing them in a safe location. File backup is important for system admins because it helps to protect against data loss due to hardware failure, accidental deletion, or other issues that can cause files to become corrupted or lost.

As a system admin, you are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the data stored on your organization’s systems. This includes ensuring that data is properly backed up so that it can be recovered in the event of a data loss event. Some of the key benefits of file backup include; compliance, business continuity, data protection and disaster recovery.

There are many different tools available for file backup, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most popular file backup tools used today include rsync, Restic, Bacula, Duplicati, Rclone, Acronis True Image, Carbonite etc.

What is BackInTime?

BackInTime is an open-source backup tool for Linux systems that provides an easy-to-use graphical user interface for creating and managing files and folders backups. This tool runs on  GNU Linux and also provides a command-line tool backintime and a Qt5 GUI backintime-qt both written in Python3. It uses rsync to take manual or scheduled backups and can store them locally or remotely through SSH. The supported backup destinations include local drives, network drives, and cloud storage providers such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

The key features associated with BackInTime are:

  • User-friendly interface: It provides a graphical user interface that is easy to use and intuitive, making it accessible to users of all levels of experience.
  • Multiple backup options: It supports full and incremental backups, and provides options for scheduling and automatic backup creation.
  • Backup destinations: BackInTime supports a wide range of backup destinations, including local drives, network drives, and cloud storage providers such as Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • Snapshot support: It uses snapshot technology to create point-in-time backups that can be easily restored in the event of a data loss event.
  • Backup encryption: It provides options for encrypting backups to ensure that sensitive data is protected.

This guide aims to illustrate how to back up files and folders in Linux using BackInTime Tool.

#1. Install BackInTime on Linux

BackInTime can be installed on various Linux distributions using their respective package managers. Here are the commands for installing BackInTime on some popular Linux distributions:

  • On Debian, Ubuntu
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bit-team/stable
sudo apt update
sudo apt install backintime-qt
  • On CentOS, Rocky Linux, Alma Linux
sudo yum install epel-release
sudo yum install backintime-qt4 -y
  • On Fedora
sudo dnf install backintime-qt4

  • On Arch Linux and Manjaro
$ sudo pacman -S backintime
gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 615F366D944B4826
wget https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/snapshot/backintime.tar.gz
tar xvzf backintime.tar.gz
cd backintime
makepkg -srci

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/backintime.git
# Optional: Edit PKGBUILD to comment the `make test` line for the first-time installation of version 1.3.2 or less
cd backintime
makepkg -si
  • On OpenSUSE
sudo zypper install backintime-qt4

#2. Backup Files and Folders using BackInTime

Once installed, you can use BackInTime to take snapshots of files and Folders on your Linux system. Launch the tool from your App Menu as shown:

There are two options here, “Back In Time” and “Back In Time (root)” which run with root permissions (which are required to access and back up certain system files).

Choose one version depending on the files and folder you want to back up. BackInTime will start with the below question:

You can dismiss the message, and the main window will appear.

In the main window above, locate “where to save snapshots” by clicking the browse button next to it. For this guide, I have created a dedicated local directory for saving the snapshots at /backintime. You can still use SSH or local encrypted mode for the snapshot destination.

You can also configure the desired scheduling for the backup on this tab.

Next, go to the Include tab. This contains the files and folders that you want to be backed up.

Add all the desired files and folders you want to take a snapshot. You can proceed to the exclude tab to exclude any files or folders from being backed up if you want;

Once all the desired configs have been made, click on OK. Now on this page, take your first snapshot using the “Take snapshot” button shown below:

Once taken, the snapshot will be available as shown:

#3. Restore BackInTime Snapshots

One of the important activities after taking snapshots is how to restore them when required. BackInTime make it simpler by using rsync directly.

To restore a snapshot, select the backed-up folder and click on the restore button. Here, there are several options.

For this guide, we will restore the content to its original folder. You need to answer the questions as desired.

The restoration will be done.

To verify this:

Recommended Linux Books  to read:


That marks the end of this guide, we now have the required knowledge to install and create backups with the BackInTime tool. I hope this was informative.

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