Timeshift - Storage Use?

I came across this software in a post here and I’m interested in giving it a shot but I’m wondering how much data do these snapshots take? I’m guessing the first would be the biggest and the rest smaller since they’d be incremental but kinda looking for a ballpark figure.

The first one is approximately the size as your root directory (at the time of making the snapshot). The next ones are much smaller, because all files comman between snapshots are hardlinked.

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I use Timeshift on regular basis, with one backup scheduled every day and automatic removal of old backups.
Actually I have 8 snapshots with a total storage of 25.1 Gb
The first (oldest) snapshop alone uses 12.7 Gb

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Ah, makes sense, cheers…I don’t have a lot of disk space so might have to do it to an external drive… :sweat_smile:

If your filesystem is btrfs, timeshift snapshots take very little space. If not, it is just using rsync to make a copy of the data.


You can choose to include boot and or your home folder as well. That is good (home folder) only If you have the space. I don’t personally backup home through timeshift, I just copy past once in a while my home folder to an external disk.

Always backup timeshift to an external storage device, don’t be an idiot like I was a few years back and create a partition in your main drive for timeshift backups!


Actually, it is a terrible idea to include your /home directory in Timeshift backup. That is not what Timeshift was designed to do. The official Timeshift webpage even warns you against doing that.

On the other hand, including dotfiles from your /home directory in the snapshot is not necessarily a bad idea.


The first snapshot is the size of root minus /var/cache/pacman and a couple of other “minor” directories.

You could check what is excluded by default in Settings:Filters:Summary


I’ve been using Timeshift for quite a while now, so to speak, I haven’t changed anything in the basic settings, except for additional updates daily and weekly, the location is a separate partition. However, each backup is exactly the same size as the first one. There’s enough space on the partition, but it’s still strange.

I use my Timeshift manually, about once every two weeks, or if there is a major dump of OS or new kernel files. I also back up my home directory and dot files (handy for reinstalls or moving on up to the east side (EOS) with that deluxe apartment in the sky.)

I also use Syncthing to sync my “important” folder of files to my laptop as well, thus creating a kind of redundancy. Don’t leave all your gold under one mattress! :moneybag:

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Indeed, syncthing is the MVP of my backup solution. I have several different devices connected together backing up my important data (including my phone!). I’m glad I found it, and to be honest I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Dropbox restricting the amount of concurrent devices you could use on their free tier.

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For my /home I have a backup HDD. Do it all manually 1:1, Timeshift only takes care of the system.

It is possible to use Timeshift for backing up home as well but preferably to another partition than the one for backing up the system. If you have scheduled your system backups, then I guess on-demand for home backups should work.

what for you all do system backups? isn’t this waste of space? i do backup only dotfiles + /etc + packages list + personal files. i have installer ISO as rescuesystem bootable from grub, so if system fails i do just reinstall it :wink:


It depends on how busy I am with work and deadlines. If I need to get work done and don’t have time to tinker, I’ll restore to a backup where I know things were working … if not, I might consider just reinstalling. (I’ve been know to do stupid things and botch stuff up during install :crazy_face: )

Exactly my thoughts, except I’ve not had to reinstall yet. System was always “salvageable”.


Actually it’s not . If you monitor the free space in timeshift or via df you can see it takes less space for new snapshots .

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Ok, you’re right, gparted confirms it:

Nevertheless the folder with the snapshots is shown to me with over 80 GiB. Strange system …

‘Unchanged’ files in snapshots are hard linked to older ones .So the file is not written again to the disk.

But file managers consider hard links as real files . Even though a hard link is only a few bytes the file manager will show MBs or GBs used for it ;

because all files are hard links

Okay, thanks for clearing that up. But what happens if the first snapshot you took doesn’t exist anymore? What do the subsequent changes apply to?

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