How do I setup Timeshift for an USB device and subvolumes?

So I’d like to setup an USB device to backup via BTRFS and I want those backup files being saved on my USB device. I searched for this in the wiki but I didn’t find anything. I also formatted my USB device as a BTRFS partition but I still get the error that I need to setup so called subvolumes “@”. How do I do that?

Timeshift doesn’t support taking btrfs snapshots and replicating them to another device.

If you want that you either need to use a different solution like snapper or put timeshift in rsync mode and have it rsync the data instead of being able to leverage btrfs snapshots.


Thanks. But wouldn’t it be a good idea to store BTRFS Snapshots on an external drive? Wha’t the advantage if you can only place it on your main HDD. I mean if the system crashes you won’t have access to the drive anymore.

Timeshift isn’t a backup software. It saves the current state of your system files quite similar to Windows’ system restore. So if you or an update breaks your system you can jump back to this state. For protection against hardware failure use backup software or clonezilla/rescuezilla.

Yes. btrfs supports this through snapshot replication. However, timeshift doesn’t. Generally speaking, timeshift is a very simplistic tool.


I believe snapper has this capability if that helps…

More complicated, but more capable as well.

So I’m still struggling finding out how to use timeshift with an encrypted drive. I stored several snapshots on my NVME and I did boot from endeavouros live and tried to restore a backup (for science!) but I couldn’t find the snapshots. I unlocked and mounted the disk with the file manager and I had access to my /home folder and such afterwards but after installing timeshift-bin (couldn’t install timeshift, dunno why) I wasn’t able to see those snapshots. Any tips?

I’ve always done it from terminal. You also should find out why you can’t install timeshift without-bin. That’s a problem. If you don’t understand why not, post EVERYTHING for us. Thanks!

Why would you want to build timeshift from source when booted off the ISO? Installing timeshift-bin seems like a much better plan in that situation.

Any time someone says they “can’t build something” I don’t just gloss over it. That is almost always something that should be looked into further.

When you booted off the ISO, the overlay filesystem is in ram. So everything you download is being stored in ram. Then everything is decompressed in ram. Then building software takes a bunch of ram plus all the temporary files created during the build are getting written to ram.

The point it, it is easy to run out of ram in that situation. Especially if you update the system first.


Sounds logical. It’s still not something I would ever gloss over though. That (to me) is still an issue that requires attention. It wouldn’t be acceptable to me.

I wish it did, but it doesn’t. I use a script that runs btrfs send/receive to sync my snapshots with an external drive. I believe there are backup solutions on GitHub that do this, as well as sending snapshots to network resources.

1 Like

@Trusstt looks like someone has blogged about what you what to do.