4 Time Machine Alternatives for Linux

There is no doubt that Apple’s Time Machine has made backup mainstream. Before using Time Machine, ordinary users avoided backups like the plague-the process seemed too cumbersome, and it wasted precious storage space.

With Time Machine, Apple has changed the way people think, mainly due to its simplicity: adding an external HDD to a computer, files and OS will always be safe. With one click, you will be back before the disaster.

At that time other backup solutions were aware of this approach and decided that simplicity should also be given priority. Today, you can find some of the best on Linux-they are even standard in many distributions! However, only a few are as easy to use as Apple’s Time Machine.

What follows is a small selection of the most popular data, such as Time Machine, which excels at taking snapshots of data so that they can “return” later, or even fully automate the process.


Déjà Dup is one of the simplest backup solutions available and is best suited for keeping automatic backups of personal files. If it is not already installed in your distribution and you are using an Ubuntu / Debian-based variant, you can get it from the software center or by launching a terminal and entering the following:

sudo apt-get install deja-dup

You can set Déjà Dup to backup your expensive files by simple 1-2-3 method. It has built-in encryption and incremental backups, allowing you to jump back to a specific point in time and compress it to save space. You do not need to adjust any options for these functions. Déjà Dup can store its backup locally on a remote share or cloud service. Or, thanks to its integration, Nautilus can access anywhere.

Unfortunately, Déjà Dup’s simplicity is also its main disadvantage. There are no advanced scheduling options, only simple presets (such as “Daily” and “Monthly”). It is neither the simplest nor the most complete. This does not mean that it is not a good choice and it is not worth your time. Just so, Déjà Dup is not outstanding in any way. Unfortunately, by designing better guides or providing more options, the pendulum can swing freely to help it reach the top.

2. Cronopete

So far, the features closest to any program have fully cloned the features of Time Machine, and it seems that Crnopete is still “annoying” because you may not find it in most software centers. Instead, you must download the package file from Author’s website Manually. This is not a real problem, but in situations like Cronoby, every negative factor is important-because very few of them!

Cronopete startup wizard for Linux Time Machine alternative

Setting up Cronopete is a very simple thing:

1. Choose whether to store the backup in a folder or an external hard disk.

2. Select the actual backup destination. (An external hard drive is the default and preferred method.)

3. Specify the folder to be backed up.

4. Optional: Switch options to display their icons on the menu bar.

5. Enable backup.

Unfortunately, like Deja Dup, this is where the problem lies: the “nothing more” part of the equation. Trying to be as simple as Time Machine, Crnopete lacks options such as detailed planning or storage limit settings. There is no choice as to how many backups to keep or how many backups should be used. You can only include and exclude folders from its backups, and set the time interval (in hours) between two backups.

Linux Time Machine alternative Cronopete main window

Restoring backups is even easier: You can navigate the timeline of overlapping folders, which display the contents of each backup, and then click back to any point in time

Cronopete aims to be a direct clone of Time Machine for Linux and has succeeded in this regard. However, this seems like a wasteful opportunity-the pursuit of simplicity means that the basic options available in other backup applications are missing.

3. Back in time

The simplicity of Cronopete and Deja Dup may limit too much. Other backup solutions do the opposite: they offer numerous options that ordinary users will find useless.

Linux Time Machine alternative backtracking schedule

Back in time is a good middle ground. If you ignore their settings, it’s as easy to use as Cronopete and Deja Dup-the default values ​​are fine for ordinary users. In addition to choosing a destination and folders to back up, you can leave the rest and start using the application, or make sure the plan is enabled and ignore it.

To install it on a distribution compatible with Ubuntu and Mint, use:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bit-team/stable
sudo apt update
sudo apt install backintime-gnome

If you adjust its options, Back in Time allows you to set when to take a new snapshot based on a series of predefined values ​​(from “every 5 minutes” to “drive connection (udev)”). Your own custom time. You can limit the number of snapshots that are kept daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. You can choose when to delete old snapshots based on the remaining space. If you are using a laptop or older PC, you can set whether the program is paused while running on battery power and only take one snapshot at a time to avoid overloading the CPU. It can also perform a full system backup, allowing you to restore the full operating system to an earlier time-although we acknowledge that we have not tested this feature.

Linux Time Machine main window

You can also use it “manually” by clicking the button to start the backup process. Returning to the previous backup is simply a matter of selecting and restoring it.

The availability of more options makes Time Lapse look more complicated than it originally was because it doesn’t hide them. Its interface is closer to a typical backup program, including a file manager, which seems a little strange to anyone who wants to use Time Machine clones.

It’s also worth noting that its support for full system backups is limited because they can only be restored to the same physical disk with the same partition structure. This means that restoring your system to existing hardware is very useful, but not suitable if you want to back up everything before the hard drive upgrade.

4. Time shift

Time shifting is powerful, but it’s very easy to use. You can install it on Ubuntu and compatible distributions via its official repository:

sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:teejee2008/ppa
sudo apt update
sudo apt install timeshift

Timeshift guides you through all the options by showing it as an easy-to-follow wizard. You can choose the storage location, frequency, directories to be included in the backup and set it up. You can wait for Timeshift to do something, or you can manually start the backup process by clicking Create.

Linux Time Machine alternative Timeshift wizard scheduling

Restoring a backup is very simple: click Restore, select the snapshot, and you’re done. If it is a full operating system snapshot, a restart is required to complete the process. We should note that when using Timeshift, we tried to do a full backup and restore of a fresh Linux Mint installation without encountering any problems.

Sorry, we do not have support for BTRFS because we do not have an operating system installed on HDDs using this format. Sorry, because we want to see how Timeshift takes advantage of BTRFS’s built-in features. This allows you to instantly create and restore backups, which are perfect byte-by-byte copies of the system.

Linux time machine alternative Timeshift Rsync Btrfs choice

The problem with this approach is that since the BTRFS snapshot is stored on the same volume, it only works to return to the previous state. If the hard drive fails, both the original content and the backup will be lost. This means that the ultimate purpose of the BTRFS option is different from a typical backup. If you are backing up files (the term “meaning” is stored on other storage media for added security), you must also set up a secondary backup process for this. Thankfully, Timeshift can do this too, so there is no need to look elsewhere.

wrap up

These are just a few of all the backup solutions available in the open source space. However, they are still the protagonists, mainly because of their easy-to-use and user-centric approach. If needed, you can use more complex solutions that are also great for backing up many computers on the network to a central server or remote management for backups, support for other operating systems, options for cloning partitions, etc Wait. However, most users can use one of the four above, ranging from the ultra-simple Cronopete “click here to backup” method to detailed options for Back In Time.