How to create Time Machine backups

I’ve just migrated over from a Mac, so I’m not used to linux, and I want to make sure my new machine is backed up.

What is the equivalent of time machine.
(i.e. when I plug in the external disk, it copies changes).

Or even a PureOS for dummies?


Linux has a backup tool utility that is part of the OS. The graphical symbol is a small black safe. You can easily search for Backup as well.
It does backup automatically when storage media is plugged in.
It’s a good idea to format an external drive and encrypt the backup as well.

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I believe the the software is called “Deja Dup”. If it’s not already installed, you can easily install it through the “Software” program.

That’s great thanks. So if I can sum up. when I search for backup in activities, it brings up the black safe, which is the deja dup program, which does indeed come preinstalled.
Now I’ve backed up, but I’m trying to check that it worked.
How do I see my baked up files?
The instructions say I can go into a folder, click recover files, and then it will reach into the back up and pull up the files that used to be there, but nothing is happening. Is there anything like time machine were I can see my whole computer and choose which date to look at?
Unfortunately when I look inside the external hard drive, I can’t see any folders with my stuff. With the Mac time machine, I could just plug in the hard drive and then navigate to all my files. This may be a security feature in deja dup, but I’d rather i could access my files easily than that no-one else can.
Like if my laptop got stolen and I wanted to plug in my hard drive to any other computer (a mac or pc) and dig out my commonly used files to use on a memory stick until I got my new laptop, as happened last month, how could I do that?

The MacOSX Time Machine uses a separate user interface that allows you to visually navigate dated time backups which for most people is probably easier than navigating the file structure.
Having said that, you can navigate the file structure on deja dup backups like on a Mac.
However, it’s very important whether you’re using Mac or Linux, that you encrypt your backup disk, otherwise anyone who gets ahold of your backup has full access to the files.
Hope that helps

Hi there, please would you or someone else also comment on what type of external hard drive to use?

For example, how to determine whether or not those commercially available such as e.g. WD do not send my data backed up on such drive to “the mothership” when connected to the web?

I’m by no means an expert and might have this completely wrong: doesn’t it defeat the purpose of having a greatly secure-built, privacy-respecting Librem laptop only to back-up one’s data on an average consumer hard drive that is built with commercial interests in mind? And on that note, how do i know that “the establishment” does not coerce hard disk manufacturers to built in a back-door, that is if that’s possible?

Or to back-up on a cloud with possibily equally dubious privacy-respecting features? I read people recommending Nextcloud in one of the threads…

How DOES one determine who’s a “good” cloud provider /hard disk manufatcurer and who’s not? as in trust worthy with our data?

No - with some preconditions:

If you use an external drive which can only be connected through usb (and doesn’t have some wifi/ethernet cloud or whatever they call it feature alongside) the data on that drive is only accessible via the usb cable.

Still you could argue that under some strange and only to bad people known conditions the data could leak magically from that drive. Or you could simply forget it somewhere or have it stolen.

That is the reason why your “greatly secure-built, privacy-respecting Librem laptop” should take care about encryption before storing the backup to that drive.

If your data leaks to someone this someone would also need your key to that encryption which you should obviously not store on that harddrive, but separated in a secure place.

I didn’t look into the mentioned software, yet, to tell you whether it would be possible to encrypt the data with a public gpg key that you can store anywhere and by doing so make it only accessible with your highly protected secret gpg key (which e.g. might be stored on your LibremKey).

At least is this the way how I learned to do save offsite backups, because even if someone sometimes can recover the encryption (public gpg key) from an old harddrive or by breaking into the origin of the backup that attacker could not look into the history of files that might be stored offsite or on a harddrive.

A quick search about Déjà Dup revealed that it is designed for easy use and supports symmetrical encryption only (if I’m wrong please correct me).

With the searchresults I had also a hit about duply, which is described to support gpg asymmetrical encryption. But it is a command line software without the nice gui.

symmetric encryption: you choose one password to encrypt and decrypt your data.

asymmetrical encryption: by mathematical magic you can choose a key (password, but usually not ascii text) pair that allows to encrypt with one of the keys and only allows to decrypt the data with the other key of that pair.

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I was also searching a while ago for a solution like the MacOS time machine and I found Back In Time. If I remember correctly, I chose not to use Deja Dup because it does not support accessing single files without restoring the complete backed up location. Basically you can not browse the backup data which you can in Time Machine. The disadvantage of Back in Time compared to Deja Dup might be encryption since the build in Back in Time encryption uses EncFS (which might has security issues). I use it anyway with an external hard drive where I use normal LUKS partition encryption so I do not need the encryption feature. Anyway, I would be careful using it with a cloud solution.

Edit: Oh, I just saw that this thread is 2 years old, anyway maybe the recommendation helps someone else.

If you don’t use it with an external hard drive and a LUKS partition, you can always just create a veracrypt container. I guess this would mostly make sense if you want to use the backup not really as a real backup but as a version control manager.
Anyway, I’m using the default DejaDup, which works fine. It also really pesters me to connect the external hard drive regularly, so that’s good. For smaller backups of containers, important data, I simply use an rsync script, rsync in the end can be really powerful if you take the time to look at it and set up your scripts properly.

Thanks so much, ChriChri, for the expanded and clear explanation and especially with glossary!! :smiley:

Thank you Tommes and pfm as well :smiley: