Linux Application Review: KBackup

KBackup gives you a straightforward but effective tool for backing up your important files. One of the nice things about open-source software is how the Unix Philosophy works… build a simple program that does one job, does it well, and integrates well with other tools. This allows the community to create different tools that do the same job, but better suited to different users. Where Backintime provides a nice, OS X-esque interface, KBackup is back-to-basics program that still gets the job done.

Installing & Launching

Installing KBackup is as simple as selecting it from the Software Centre or Muon, or using the following command:

sudo apt-get install kbackup

Once installed, you’ll find it in the “Applications -> System” menu, or you can simply type “kbackup” from KRunner.


As noted above, the interface to KBackup isn’t exactly pretty, but on the upside, you can do everything you need to do for a simple back-up from the main screen pictured below.

kbackup main screen

The left-hand side displays a tree view of all the folders in your system. Selecting a check-box next to a folder includes it in the back-up; removing the check removes it from the back-up as well.

On the right-hand side, you’ll need to put a path for where the backup should be saved. You can either enter this manually if you know it, or use the folder button to select a location. This uses the standard KDE dialog, so bear in mind you can place your backup anywhere you can access from Dolphin, including remote locations (meaning you can’t place it in locations where you don’t have permissions, such as the “root” user’s directory).

kbackup select folder

Once you select your destination, just click the big “Start Backup” button at the top of the right-hand pane, and you’re good to go. If you’d like to perform the same backup at a later time, you can save your current settings as a “Profile,” as shown in the figure below.

kbackup profile settings


For a quick-and-dirty manual backup solution, KBackup is your solution. It will help take all the folders and files from location A, and create a copy of them in location B. If this is the extent of your needs, KBackup provides the ability to make this happen in an interface that can be learned in less than 30 seconds.

However, note that if any of the following apply to you, you may be better off sticking with another solution:

  • You’d like your back-up to run automatically on a schedule. According to the KBackup Handbook, there are two command line options that will allow you to automatically apply a profile and run it (i.e. without having to click the “Start Backup” button yourself), but in order to have it run on a schedule, you’ll need to use a tool like kde-config-cron to set it up.
  • You want to do back-ups over time, and restore files from a particular back-up point easily. KBackup has the ability to do “incremental back-ups,” which will create a small back-up archive containing only the files that have changed since the last back-up. But looking at the KBackup Handbook, restoring these files involves opening each of these archives in reverse order, starting with the most recent, and ending with the first full backup. There’s bound to be lots of overwrite dialogs during this process, which brings the risk of unarchiving the wrong file.
  • You want to back-up files that aren’t on your local system. KBackup gives you access only to your local machines folders and files, even though you can place them on another system. This means you can’t use KBackup to perform back-ups of your web server, unless you take other measures such as mounting the remote filesystem.

If you want the ability to perform basic back-ups, and do them fast, KBackup will get you on to your other work. But for less experienced users or those who want a more automated, point-and-click solution, the community has other great programs to suit your needs.

Aaron Peters

Aaron is an interactive business analyst, information architect, and project manager who has been using Linux since the days of Caldera. A KDE and Android fanboy, he'll sit down and install anything at any time, just to see if he can make it work. He has a special interest in integration of Linux desktops with other systems, such as Android, small business applications and webapps, and even paper.

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