Timeshift is a relatively new utility for Linux, but it’s something very useful to desktop users. Timeshift essentially brings the restore point feature from Windows to Linux. While it sounds like a bad idea to bring Windows features to Linux, this one might actually be useful.
Timeshift allows you to create restore points of your system. They’re incremental backups that create exact images of your system at a specific point in time. You can use them to restore your system to the exact state that it was in when the backup was made. Since they’re incremental, they don’t take nearly as much hard drive space to store.
Why Use Timeshift?
First off, Timeshift isn’t meant for servers. It’s designed for desktops, and it shines there. There are plenty of reasons that you’d want to use Timeshift on a desktop Linux system. It lets you roll back from bad updates, security issues, and just about anything else that can go wrong with your system, even the mistakes that you make yourself.
Timeshift also lets you make backups to external and networked hard drives. That means that it protects against hardware failure. That’s even better than its Windows counterpart. There’s actually another feature that’s better than Windows restore points. Timeshift can be set to just about any time interval and run automatically. You can have your system back itself up every night and never worry that your latest backup is outdated.
Timeshift is not available in most repositories, so you will need to install manually.
Ubuntu / Ubuntu-based distributions
Timeshift is available in the Arch User Repository (AUR), and you can install it with the command:
Download the installer and execute it in a terminal window:
Getting Started on Mint
Linux Mint isn’t the only possible distribution for Timeshift. Actually, you can run it on just about any distribution, but Mint is the first and only distribution to ship it by default. You can find Timeshift in the “System” tab on a clean install.
Click on Timeshift to start the setup. The first thing that Timeshift will ask you is whether you want to run your backups via Rsync or BTRFS. Unless you formatted your hard drive for BTRFS, Rsync is the right choice.
The next screen asks you where you want to store your backups. Pick the drive where you want your backups stored. A different drive is usually a better option, if you have one.
After that, Timeshift will ask you to set up the timing of your backups. Set something that makes sense for your system. Usually, weekly or nightly backups work best on desktops.
When you’re done, Timeshift will let you know that the setup is finished. If you ever want to go back and change your settings, there is a “Settings” menu within Timeshift to do just that.
Creating a Backup
Creating a backup of your system is insanely easy, and you should make one right after you set up Timeshift. This way your system has a starting point. To begin your backup, click on the “Create” button. Timeshift will immediately begin backing up your system. During the process, Timeshift will show you what it’s doing and give you a visual of its progress.
After you have your backup, you can see it listed on the main screen. Timeshift will list all of its backups there. If you ever want to restore using one of them, you can click on the “Restore” button to begin the restoration process. Remember, restoring your system will destroy any changes made after your restoration point. That means you can lose files.
Clearly, Timeshift is an excellent utility for desktop Linux, and it makes keeping backups of your system much easier for new and non-technical Linux users. If you’re already on Mint, definitely open it up and take a look around. If you’re on another distro, consider finding a way to install Timeshift. It might just save your system.