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How to back up your Linux PC with BackInTime

Looking for an easy system backup solution for your Linux desktop? If so, you may be interested in BackInTime. It’s a basic system backup tool for the Linux platform. Its primary purpose is to make it easy to create a backup of a Linux computer with little effort.

Install BackInTime

BackInTime isn’t a default application on any popular Linux distribution. So, before we get into how to use it, we’ll need to go through the process of installing it.

To get the app working, open up a terminal and follow the instructions that correspond with the OS you are using.


Installing the app on Ubuntu doesn’t require a third-party PPA. However, you won’t be able to access the program unless you enable the “Universe” software repository. To turn on “Universe,” open up a terminal and enter the command below.

sudo add-apt-repository universe

With Universe now enabled on Ubuntu, you must run the update command.

sudo apt update

Ubuntu is up to date and Universe is enabled. Now it’s time to install the BackInTime system backup tool on your Linux PC by entering the Apt command below.

sudo apt install backintime-qt4


On Debian Linux, it is possible to install the application directly from the official software sources.

sudo apt-get install backintime-qt4

Getting BackInTime from the official Debian software repositories is satisfactory enough if you’re an average user. With that said, Debian is further behind on updates than other distributions, so keep that in mind.

Not happy with how far behind Debian packages can sometimes be? Do yourself a favor and follow our guide to set up Debian Backports! It’ll help you get the latest software on older versions of Debian Linux.

Arch Linux

If you check the official Arch Linux software repositories, you’ll notice that the BackInTime application is absent. For whatever reason, the Arch maintainers decide not to provide the app, and it’s a bummer.

Due to the Arch Linux repositories not officially supporting the app, the Arch community has created an unofficial AUR package. It downloads the source code, compiles the program and gets it going under Arch Linux.

To get the app working on your Arch PC, open up a terminal and follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Install the Git and Base-devel packages on your Arch computer so that you can install AUR packages manually.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

Step 2: Clone the latest AUR snapshot of the BackInTime PKGBUILD file.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/backintime.git

Step 3: Move the terminal session into the newly cloned “backintime” folder using the CD command.

cd backintime

Step 4: Using the makepkg command, generate an installable Arch package for BackInTime.

Please keep in mind that when building packages with makepkg, problems can happen. If you run into issues, read the BackInTime AUR page for guidance.

makepkg -sri


Using Fedora Linux and need to install the BackInTime backup application? If so, launch a terminal session and enter the DNF command below.

Note: As of now, the app is available on Fedora 27-29 and Rawhide.

sudo dnf install backintime-qt4


The app is available on OpenSUSE. If you’d like to install it, use the following Zypper command in a terminal window.

sudo zypper install backintime-qt4

Configure BackInTime

The first time that the app launches, you’ll see a prompt that says that the program isn’t configured. Select the “No” option to dismiss the message.

After dismissing the message, the main window will appear. In the main window, locate “where to save snapshots”  and click the browse button next to it.

In the browser, navigate to your “Home” folder. Then, click the “New” and create a folder called “snapshots.”

Using the file browser, select the new “snapshots” folder for the app to use.

Once you’ve set up the backup folder, return to the app’s user interface and locate the “Include” tab. Then, click the “Add folder” button and add /home/username as the folder to backup.

Note: don’t want to create a backup of only your home folder? Go to the “include” section and add any directory you like!

When you’re done setting up folders in the “Include” tab, select the “Exclude” tab. In the “Exclude” area, select “Add folder” and add the “snapshots” directory we created earlier. Click “OK” to save the configuration when finished.

Creating a system backup

Making a system backup with BackInTime is easy. To start the process, open up the application by searching for “BackInTime” in your application menu.

Inside the app’s UI, locate the “Snapshot” menu at the top of the window and click on it. Then select “take snapshot” to create a new backup.

Restoring a system backup

Need to restore a snapshot? You can easily do it by selecting “Restore,” then restore to /home/username/.

Don’t want to restore to the home directory? Select one of the other restore options inside the menu!

1 Comment

  1. I like the looks of backintime, but miss the ability, found in sbackup, to email the results of a backup so that I know that it has worked on a remote machine, I maintain machines at two sites, one of which is subject to power shortages which stop and re-start my machines at that site.

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