[Snippet] Ubuntu: Backup Your Applications Easily With A Single Command

Installing applications in Ubuntu is as easy as the app store in iPhone. Hit the Ubuntu Software Center, find the application you want and click Install. Due to this convenience, most of the time, you won’t need to backup the applications itself.

However, there are times when you want to restore the newly formatted machine to the original state and you find it a chores to manually install all the applications again. This is when the backup is useful.

When we say “backup” in this case, we don’t really mean backing up the actual application. What we are going to do is to export the list of all your installed app onto a text file. Next time, we can just get the system to reinstall the apps listed in the text file.

Backing up your Apps

(Optional) To list all your installed applications, open a terminal and type:

To backup your list of applications to a text file:

This will create a text file of the name “app-backup-list.txt” in your Home folder.

Restoring your apps

To restore your applications, first make sure that the app-backup-list.txt file is in your Home folder, then type in the terminal:

Note: This will only reinstall the applications. It won't restore back the settings that you have previously set. You might want to back up the whole Home folder to preserve all your settings.

That's it.

Image credit: cesarastudillo

Damien Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.


  1. To restore our apps,
    we should use

    sudo dpkg –set-selections < app-backup-list.txt

    Right? :)

  2. Hummm it's not a bad idea, but i don't like it. And that's just because I use a lot of external repositories and PPA's, and this will back up only the apps installed and I will have to look for its repositories manually. Any tip about that?

  3. Minor correction all the ‘–‘ options have come out with single long hyphen – otherwise very useful info

    1. It is supposed to show “–“, but WordPress eats one of the ‘-‘ away. I have fixed it.

  4. is there any front end to do this nicely? it would be perfect to backup in the ubuntu one for example… upload your sources.list, the app-backup-list.txt and your local settings .local folder for example…

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