Restore Your Linux System to Earlier Date with TimeShift

In Windows, there is a System Restore feature that takes a snapshot of your system at regular interval and allows you to restore the system back to an earlier date when it crashes. In Mac, the popular Time Machine feature can do the job as well. What about Linux? What solution do you have?

We have previously covered BackInTime and TimeVault that can take a snapshot of your system at regular interval. TimeShift is yet another backup application for Linux that is easy to use and allows you to easily roll back to a previous state.

What makes TimeShift different from BackInTime is that it only backup and protect system files and settings. It doesn’t handle your data and document (you will need another backup application for that, and we strongly recommended using Dropbox or Ubuntu One). This ensures that your personal files remains unchanged when you restore your system to an earlier date.

Note: TimeShift makes use of rsync to get the work done. While you can easily make use of rsync to accomplish the same task, this provides a simple to use interface so you can get things done easier and faster.


Like most third-party applications, installing it is very easy. Open a terminal and run the following commands:


When you run the application, all you need to do is to click the “Backup” button and it will take the first snapshot of your system.


The default location is “/timeshift” (located in the root folder), and that is why it will prompt you for user permission when you open the application.

To restore the system to a previous state, simply select the snapshot that you want to restore to and click the Restore button.


It wouldn’t be useful if there is no option for you to schedule the backup and let it run automatically. Under the Settings, you can turn the “Schedule snapshots” feature on and configure it to run on regular interval.


There is also an Auto-remove feature to make sure you won’t run low on storage space.

The last Advanced tab is where you can include or exclude files to be backed up.



As you can see, TimeShift is a very simple application. There are only a few Settings that you can configure and it doesn’t come with plenty of feature. However, for what it is supposed to do, it did its job well. Sometime, a simple application is all you need to save you from the devastating system crash.

Image credit: Backup Key by BigStockPhoto


  1. On windows we can use the installation CD / DvD or repair cd to repair/restore. Is this possible with linux?

    1. AFAIK, most live Linux CDs don’t come with a repair/restore function. Once you backup your system with Timeshift, you can save the backup files/folders to external drive or CD. To restore, you can just run Timeshift and select the external drive as the recovery source.

      1. This seems to be a good app, but in the backup drive I see nothing but the Mint partition of my drive. I use my Windows side of the (external drive) for backups. Do you think that I can cut and past it to my Win side without messing things up?

        1. Yes. You can.

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