Need help explaining timeshift settings and some questions

I have installed timeshift, but not yet use it, because i am not sure with the settings. I am just being careful. Need to do the proper backup before i dare to install other software to try out.
I have got several questions that i need to understand before i can be in peace of mind.

  1. In Windows os, sometime restore point won’t be able to restore everything. For example, i have once installed a time limit ware. Being smarty, i do a restore point first, so that when time is up, i can restore back and reuse the software and do it again and again, so it practically means i have the software for free.
    I tried, some software will not get trick why this restore, it still prompts that “TIMES UP!” even after i restore and reinstall the software.
    Is it the same in linux that something (like config, settings, …etc) can never be restore with timeshift ?

  2. setting of Location tab of timeshift.
    This is the location where timeshift gonna backup my os system to. Most ppl suggesting put on a separate hdd from os, so that if os hdd fails, the backup is still there.
    I do not believe my hdd will fail that soon (i am willing to risk it), so i will set timeshift to store on the same hdd as the os hdd. Since i don’t have extra partition on the os hdd, it will be placed on the same partition as os.

2.a) Will timeshift backup it own timeshift backup data if it is located in the same partition os is ?

my partitions
$ df -h | grep ^/dev
/dev/sdb1        78G   12G   63G  16% /
/dev/sdb2       839G   50G  747G   7% /home
/dev/sdd1       5,5T  2,3T  3,3T  42% /run/media/enos-andrew/USB 6TB My Book
/dev/sda2       466G  353G  114G  76% /run/media/enos-andrew/win7

My os in installed on sdb1 and /home is in sdb2.
But i am not sure already where my swap file gonna be (i have not enable it yet).

2.b) Where should i set the Snapshot Location ? same partition as /root or /home ? (/home got more space)

  1. users setting tab of timeshift:
    By default, /root and /home/enos-andrew by default are “Excluded all files”.
    This part i don’t get it, what does Timeshift meant to backup if /home and /root are both excluded ? what else does it backup ? because my whole system are in /root and /home .
    ** according to google: timeshift is designed to protect only system files and settings.
    What does "system files and settings " here refers to ? where are they located ?
    according to my understanding /root is the “system files” .
    or is it “system files” here actually refer to anything inside /boot ??
    As far as i know, a lot of system configuration files are located in /etc folder.

  2. filters tab of timeshift:

  • = include
  • = exclude
    why here also exclude patterns /root/** and /home/enos-andrew/** ? isn’t in user tab
    My goal for timeshift is to backup the whole os including installed packages, so that in case something screws up when install some funny packages, i can restore it to exactly runable state before i even install the packages that causes damage. I do not want timeshift backup os kernel only.
    What should the setting in this tab ?
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It all depends how you set it up. Timeshift will snapshot whatever you tell it to. If you configure it so it snapshots everything it will restore everything. Just be aware, that will include user data so if you tell it to snapshot your data, when you restore a snapshot it will return the status of your user data to that point as well.

By default, timeshift excludes user data such as home directories. If you want that data in your snapshots, don’t exclude them.

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This is the part i don’t get it. Why does timeshift by default exclude user home directory ? To exclude user datas such as:
then that is purely understoodable, but to exclude the whole home directory is totally out of question (to my at least) because a lot of softwares are located there isn’t it ? and a lot of configuration files are located in the /home directory, under .*some_config_hidden_file . For example, Gvim has config file stored here, same with many other softwares…
So if default timeshift exclude this directory, then even when timeshift restore the whole os, user won’t have an account to log back into isn’t it ? what more , even /root folder also excluded (even root user can’t login) , and all the softwares installed by user and setting of those software are all gone.

I just don’t want timeshift to backup /download, /pictures, /Desktop , but i would need timeshift to backup all softwares and config files.

Is it in that case i should :neutral_face:
in users tab:
Include all file for /root
include all file for /home/my_account
exclude /Desktop, /Pictures, /Download … and all those personal download folders ?
is the above configuration correct ?

How about “Filters tab” of timeshift ?
What does it do ?


Timeshift stays out of user space because it is not a backup utility but a system snapshot utility. This is a design choice.

It would be very inconvenient if restoring a snapshot restored your home directory. You could include your home directory in your snapshots but that’s generally a bad idea. There are better programs for backing up your home directory.


OK, then 2 programs have to work together.
Maybe it is because i am not have the right of mind regarding how linux system work, but still stay at how windows os system works (windows registry hive stuff)

Which is trustworthy program to backup home directory and root directory ?
In this case, it is still acceptable, although a new concept of splitting backup into 2 softwares.

Pls teach me how to set and what does it means for the Filters tab of timeshift.


You should back up your home directory separately, without any regard for timeshift.

Timeshift is not backup. It is not designed to save you from losing data. It is designed to give you the option to revert the system to a previous state, without touching the user space.

So, my advice is to use timeshift as intended (maybe include .config in the snapshots), and just copy your entire home directory to an external drive from time to time, as backup. Keep it simple.

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Totally agree with @Kresimir, the best in my opinion is to use 2 softwares: Timeshift for system snapshot and another for data backups.
I personaly use Timeshift with twice a day automatic snapshot (every 12 hours), and for user data I use Backintime (from the AUR) configured to backup my Home directory (excluding Pictures, Downloads, etc…). Backintime is also configured to take an incremental backup twice a day.
I can only say that this workflow saved me a few time. A Timeshift snapshot is very easy to restore when you broke your system (as it happen to me from time to time, because errors I usually do - not so much because the system update) and my user data is not replaced.

But of course you can use any other backup software, or just as @Kresimir propose to make a manual backup copy of your data. Just sharing what works for me.
Linux is also about to dare, to test, and to learn. :wink:


Just make sure that for really important data (like family pictures) you have external backup, ideally multiple copies of it. It is not enough to copy things in some backup directory (like Backintime does), or even on a separate drive.


I second this also… my “really important” data are copied in an external drive + another external drive which I keep in another location (switching it once a month) in case, I don’t know, the house burn or an alien invasion… + a cloud copy. Quite paranoiac ? Maybe… or just learning from 30 years of computer experience :rofl:


Three people
the advice is real good

over the years we learn and this is my method

my linux box has ssd with OS +trim and no personal data at all
downloads get shifted into No.1 or No.2 as soon as I’m offline ,
then there is two ext HD one for music and cover art ,
the other paperwork eg wallpapers pdf’s receipts etc ,
a third ExtHD is the backup for the other two
third extHD connects only for backups/timeshift,

Backintime used for the two ext HD to feed the third Ext HD -
Everything gets Backintime no.1 and no. 2 into no.3
Timeshift I chose to select all everything to backup my linux box it has no personal data at all only the operating system ,
this routine I run at the end of the day or if I haveto go out there it’s run at the end of a session
this is a routine that has served me very well and it is not time consuming because while the linux box is doing it’s BITBTS ( Back In Time Before Time Shift )
put on my shoes if going out or a nitecap and since it’s a regular thing this backinup the linux box is not having to shift big lots of data.

-One thing not mentioned is peace of mind when go :upside_down_face: wrong it’s no problem I have backup-

I hope my way is not confusing if so uh wasn’t suppose to be,
In time you will find what fits in for you and what routine slowly develops for you .

If youre not even a little paranoid give it time -read a lot- and you will be !

Edit : this is good for you feeling Good ,
after youve got a few backups done
you do realise it no use if it don’t work test before making too many changes to you OS
make a change you dont like in setting colours then test with a Timeshift testrun
also have all apps shut down safer btw

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Ultimately, timeshift doesn’t know what is user data and what is configuration data in your home directory. If you would prefer to snapshot /home but exclude ~/Documents, ~/Pictures, etc than go ahead and set it up that way. It is your system.

Remember that Linux is something you control. You can set it up to meet your needs, you don’t have to accept the defaults.


Not timeshift /root user folder as well ?

This is just an example @andrew_ysk
Like with anything on Arch there are several ways to do anything. It is yours to create as you wish. That being said here is one such example.

  1. Make / (not the same as /root) it’s own partition.
  2. Make /home another separate partition.
    With this set up if something goes wrong with / (where the OS is) your personal data on /home is unaffected (usually unless a hardware failure occurred).
    Then you could simply reinstall the OS on the / partition and add your existing /home to it and all is well.
    You would use timeshift to make a snapshot of / (not a backup) I personally include all hidden files.
    You would use something like deja-dup or backintime to make backups of your /home partition.

I understood what Kresimir, dalto pierrep56 and the rest said.
I would like to keep it simple as what Dalto and Kresimir adviced, because i don’t have extremely important data in my system.

However i am a bit confused with what you said.
My laptop sdb has got 2 partition, one " / " root partition, the other is “/home” partition.
I am not sure where "/root " (root user home directory) is located. I think it is inside " / " (system root partition).
How to confirm this ?

I was asking how to partition before i even installed this system, I was asking then is exactly for this reason in mind : so that i partition the whole system properly for the ease of future use… but sadly i was not adviced to partition wisely.
so now, my system root " / " is not of it self, i think it is embedding " /root " root user home directory.
and i only have 2 partition, where should i put timeshift data ?

only 2 partition on this hdd where endea os is . User home partition is the biggest, occupied the remaining space of this hdd, with no space to timeshift data.

problem 2:
i think "/ " root partition is not by itself, it is embedding "/root " root user directory as well.
so, how can timeshift backup only " / " without backup /root as well ?

sdb1 partition is " / " my whole os root partition, this is where OS located.
sdb2 partition is " /home " (is the the biggest partition among this disk drive)

Another question (branch out fr main topic a bit)
I just did $df and $lsblk just now, why $df said sdb2 is /home, while $lsblk said sdb2 is /run/timeshift/backup ?
Did timeshift changed my /home to /run/timeshift … ? what’s going on here ? i am confused.

$ df -h | grep ^/dev
/dev/sdb1        78G   12G   63G  16% /
/dev/sdb2       839G   50G  747G   7% /home

$ lsblk
sda      8:0    0 465,8G  0 disk 
├─sda1   8:1    0   100M  0 part 
└─sda2   8:2    0 465,7G  0 part /run/media/enos-andrew/win7
sdb      8:16   0 931,5G  0 disk 
├─sdb1   8:17   0    79G  0 part /
└─sdb2   8:18   0 852,5G  0 part /run/timeshift/backup

Let’s assume i don’t have any external usb hdd available , hence can only use sdb hdd. (sda is my win7 hdd, which is only 500Gb size and it is almost full and messy)

Nobody explained to me if i set “location tab” of timeshift to sdb2 (because this is the biggest partition available), sdb2 is my /home directory, then will timeshift works ? will it causing loop ? (as timeshift will backup what it backup what it backup what it backup… infinite loop…) :upside_down_face:

It looks like /root is inside your / partition from your output above.

There is no need to put /root in it’s own partition.

Partitions don’t really matter in this case. You can exclude /root from your snapshot regardless of which partition it is in. That being said, I don’t see any reason to exclude /root from your snapshot unless you are doing something exotic. The /root folder is probably tiny.

Because it is mounted more than once. df is only showing one. The command mount should show you both.

Things can be mounted more than once.


How do you know for sure “/root” is inside “/” ? Is it because you didnt see other partition mounted with "/root? " why you wont “/root” could be located in “/home” ?

Use exclude ? ya, in this case “exclude” function can be of some use. then again, i also think why exclude /root folder ? since it does not change at all.
:+1: :ok_hand: good! so i will not exclude /root just include the whole " / ".

According to Elloquin,: make " / " it’s own partition .
But since my " /root " is embeded in " / " , i can’t achieve what Elloquin suggested . Can i still move “/root” to “/home” partition ? or if that is even remotely possible ?
NOT that i want to exclude " /root " , just for the knowledge sake, can i still move " /root " out of " / " ? is it by just cut and paste ? for example, paste into " /home " and do some editing in one of the config file …

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One is a directory and the other a user account.

Sorry, i still don’t get it. Pls elaborate.
/ is the whole os partition.
/root is root user acc directory


I know the distinction between the 2, but that’s what you said,:

Make / it’s own partition.
BUT my / partition has got /root (root user directory) in it. How can i able to achieve what you said above ?

Make / and /home separate partitions.