Snapshot for recovery

I know that this question has been asked a million of times :smiley:
but, which is in your opinion the best way to take a snapshot of the system for backup?

just in case something breaks :see_no_evil:

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For me, timeshift.


Depends on what you want to achieve, and what kind of a setup you have.

The most important thing is to backup your personal data because the system is relatively easy to re-create. And keep copies of the data on several external disks. And store the disks in separate reliable places (e.g. at your relatives’ houses).

About system backup: if you have e.g. btrfs filesystem, then you can create system snapshots, and backup them too.

Then there are applications like timeshift that many seem to recommend, but as I don’t use it, I can’t really comment on it.

Or disk backups like clonezilla.

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thanks a lot for the answers
I’m looking for a backup solution for my home PC, when the system is not booting, maybe for a wrong update

so maybe the next time that I will install the OS (endeavourOS obviously :smiley: ) it would be better to choose btrfs instead of EXT4?
just to be able to create snapshots

I suggest you experiment with btrfs first in a virtual machine, and get used to how it behaves and creates snapshots, before using btrfs on your “production” system.

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I have the same scenario and this is what I do:

Basically it’s 4 things: timeshift for rollbacks, LTS kernel (with deferred updates) for kernel problems, fsarchiver for cloned images, 2nd bootable drive for storing backups and access to the main drive.

1st off, I always install as basic as the ISO so that in the case of having to re-install from scratch, it doesn’t require extra steps (this is why I don’t yet use BTRFS). This can just add complication when nerves are frayed!

  1. Install LTS kernel (and headers) as an option to protect aganst where a new HW change affects the current kernel in your system. Grub shows this LTS as an option to boot from and I use grub-customizer to display it how I like (be very careful with grub-customizer - reverting or removing is not as simple as making the changes in the 1st place).

  2. Timeshift (rsync type) once a day, keeping 5 (not BTRFS as explained above) and I use this as a rollback option - it works, well. BTW BTRFS simply adds a lower level sync and uses less disk-space, it isn’t at all necessary for desktops.

  3. In order to mitigate potential corruption when kernel-current & LTS is updated at the same time I leave LTS updates for a day and a reboot just in case a corruption creeps into both. And I have tested so I know the LTS kernel boots fine. There is a caveat… kernels rely on a handful of packages (like a compiler) so if any of these packages are updated at the same time as the kernels, both of them need them so holding back the LTS isn’t possible but I haven’t seem this happen in the last 6 months (and that is what the other preventions can help with anyway). Basically if you see something like a compiler at the same time as the kernels, update just the kernel with pacman and if it installs dependencies, you’ll need to also update the LTS at the same time.

  4. Fsarchiver on a 2nd small (cheap) bootable drive which took a base image after installation (in case future images are corrupt from a corrupted main drive) and then clones further images as I see fit. I didn’t buy a new drive for this - I have more drives than I need because I have frequently bought larger SSDs as they come down in price.

  5. My timeshift backups are stored on this 2nd drive.

  6. My personal data is backed up and stored externally / in the cloud.

The only thing I can’t protect against is if the mainline and LTS kernels are both updated with the same problem so I could do with keeping the previous kernel but this isn’t easy on Arch and I don’t know if I could ever need this? It would be a different story on a server!

Hope this helps.


thanks a lot for the detailed answer :slight_smile:

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I use timeshift and save prior to each update (roughly weekly) on a separate USB.

Note - I don’t know if it was ever fixed, but if you’re running dchpc or whatever it is, timeshift was NOT working recently and would hang indefinitely until you stopped/removed it. Just something to think about if you find an issue with it, or if you know you’re using it.

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I use Timeshift as a tool of convenience that saves me from either reinstalling the OS or spending hours fixing problems, when, for example:

  • I mess up my computer by tinkering, like changing config files, installing drivers and other packages, removing packages I think I do not need, etc…
  • there is an error during an update (like a power outage),
  • there is a hardware failure with my root drive.

I have a separate HDD for Timeshift snapshots (and some other unimportant stuff like downloads). From time to time I run pacman -Qqe > pgklist.txt just to remember all the installed packages I have.

Of course, backing up the OS is not essential, in the worst case scenario, reinstalling everything is fairly easy.

However, backing up the home directory and personal files is absolutely essential. Timeshift is not designed for that. There are many backup utilities, but I found it simplest to use rsync to copy the files to a different HDD, as well as to another external HDD. These backups I perform manually: I run a script that just calls rsync with the correct parameters, about once a week or when I have something new that is important. I have a cron job that spams me with notifications in order to remind me to do it.

For important files, it is very important to have at least three copies (i.e. two backups), and at least one of them should be on a disconnected drive, stored in a drawer somewhere, just in case of a power surge, a faulty PSU or a lightning strike.

I never put important files in a compressed archive, I simply make copies. Most archive formats are very fragile and a single changed byte can make the entire archive impossible to extract. Storage is fairly cheap, anyway.

The important files that never change, like photos and similar memories, I burn that stuff on DVDs. Optical discs are a very stable and reliable form of storage: unlike almost anything else, they rarely fail on their own, as long as they are kept in a dry place at room temperature.

I also have a bunch of data that does not need a backup, like the downloads directory. Losing that stuff would simply be a minor inconvenience that I could get over in a couple of minutes.

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FYI, it was fixed, it was something with the dhcp update, I forget - it affected other things too