Timeshift – Take Incremental System Snapshots On Linux

Backup and restore are critical components of any system administration strategy, and Linux is no exception. In the event of a data loss or system failure, having a robust backup and restore solution can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major disaster.

In Linux, there are several tools and strategies available for backup and restore, ranging from simple file-based backups to complex system snapshots. The choice of a backup and restore solution will depend on the specific needs of the system and the level of data protection required.

Whether you are looking to protect against data loss, ensure data consistency, or simply streamline the process of system restoration, a well-designed backup and restore strategy can provide peace of mind and help ensure the reliability and stability of your Linux systems.

What Is Timeshift On Linux?

Timeshift Logo

Timeshift is a Backup utility tool for the Linux operating system. It is a free and open-source backup tool that allows users to create a system restore point by taking snapshots of their system at different points in time.

It is similar to applications like rsnapshot, BackInTime, and TimeVault but with different goals. Timeshift is designed to protect only system files and settings. User files and directories such as documents, pictures, and music are excluded by default.

This ensures that the files remain unchanged when you use it to restore a system to an earlier date. This way they can revert back to a previous version if something goes wrong.

Timeshift also includes a powerful scheduling feature, allowing users to schedule system backups at regular intervals. It is compatible with the most popular Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Zorin OS, Debian, Fedora, and Arch Linux.

Install Timeshift

What Technology Does Timeshift Use?

Timeshift uses the underlying technology of the BTRFS (B-tree file system) filesystem to create and manage backups. BTRFS is a modern file system that provides features such as snapshots, subvolumes, and data checksums, making it an ideal choice for backup and restore operations.

When creating a backup with Timeshift, it uses the BTRFS snapshot feature to take a copy of the current state of the filesystem and store it in a separate location.

Timeshift also uses RSYNC, a popular utility for copying files and directories, to perform incremental backups. Rsync only copies files that have changed since the last backup, making it a quick and efficient way to update backups.

Timeshift is useful for restoring your system files and settings to a known good state after making changes or updates that cause problems. It creates snapshots using RSYNC and Hard Links, and it can also be configured to use BTRFS snapshots in a BTRFS File System.

Why Do I Need To Backup My Linux?

Backing up a Linux machine is essential for any user who wants to protect their data. By creating regular backups, you can ensure that you have a secure copy of all your files, settings, and data in case something goes wrong with your system.

This could be anything from a hardware failure to accidental file deletion or corruption. With a backup, you can easily restore your system to its original state and get back up and running quickly without starting from scratch.

Additionally, regular backups are invaluable in the event of malicious software or hacker attacks as they allow you to quickly restore the system without losing any of your valuable information.

What Are The Timeshift Features?

Feature Description
Incremental Backup: Timeshift allows users to take snapshots of the system at a specific point in time and only saves changes made since the last snapshot, thus reducing the size of the backup.
Scheduled Automatic Snapshots: You can schedule automatic snapshots at regular intervals, so you don’t have to manually create backups. Timeshift has different backup levels to ease the process of taking snapshots.
Selective Directory and File Backup: You can choose which directories and files to include or exclude from snapshots, giving you more control over your backups.
Multiple Backup Modes: It supports multiple backup modes such as “RSYNC” and “BTRFS” to suit different needs and environments.
Restore to Specific Snapshot: You can use Timeshift to restore the system to a specific snapshot or to the most recent snapshot, providing flexibility in case of system failure or errors.
Easy-to-use graphical user interface: It has a simple and user-friendly graphical user interface that makes it easy for users to navigate and perform backup operations.
Can run in CLI (Command Line Interface): Timeshift can also be run in the command-line interface, which makes it easy for users to automate backup and restore operations. You can easily run Timeshift in the TTY terminal to restore snapshots if your display server is unable to start.

Why Should You Use Timeshift?

There are several reasons why you might want to use Timeshift on your Linux system. Here are some of the main benefits of using this backup utility:

  1. Easy to Use: Timeshift has a user-friendly graphical interface that makes it easy to create and manage system snapshots, even for Linux beginners.
  2. Fast and Efficient: Timeshift uses BTRFS filesystem snapshots and Rsync for incremental backups, which allows for quick and efficient backups that don’t take up much space.
  3. Customizable Backup Options: Timeshift allows you to customize backup options, including which directories and files to include, backup frequency, and storage location.
  4. Restore to Previous States: Timeshift allows you to easily restore your Linux system to a previous state if you experience issues or errors.
  5. Provides System Protection: Timeshift can protect your system from accidental file deletion, software installation issues, and system crashes.
  6. Free and Open-Source: Timeshift is an open-source utility that is free to use and can be customized and modified to suit your needs.

Using Timeshift can help you protect your Linux system from data loss, system crashes, and other issues that may arise. Its easy-to-use interface, efficient backup methods, and customizable options make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to implement a reliable backup solution on their Linux system.


Timeshift is a powerful and easy-to-use tool that allows you to take backups and restore your Linux system. It provides a simple and intuitive interface that makes it easy to create, schedule, and manage system snapshots.

Moreover, restoring a system from a snapshot is a simple process that can be done in just a few clicks. Overall, Timeshift is an essential tool for anyone looking to protect their Linux system from data loss and system failure.

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