The first thing you will need to make a backup is a place to store it. Most people opt for an external drive, but the backup can basically go wherever you want. If you’re going to purchase a new external drive to back up your Linux distro on, I recommend the Samsung T5 SSD series. It was recommended to me by someone who knows quite a bit about these things and, I can say it has been easy to use and faultless so far. I recently purchased the 250G for the express purpose of backing up my current operating system.
You will need to format your new hard drive and, for Linux, the recommended filesystem is currently ext4. To do this, you can use the Disks program which is bundled with most modern distributions. GParted is another great tool for formatting drives, but is rarely installed by default. If you need help with formatting the drive see the tutorial “Formatting Drives with the Disks utility”.
The next thing you will need is a copy of Timeshift. If you are unfamiliar with Timeshift, it functions in a way very similar to Apple’s Time Machine. If you can use Time Machine, you can use Timeshift. To read a little more about it you can see this article.
Now, to download and install Timeshift, you can follow these steps;
First, make sure you are connected to the Internet and open a Terminal. You can find Terminal or an equivalent program preinstalled with any standard installation. Assuming you have the GNOME desktop installed, the easiest way is to press the super + t keys. If you want to learn some Terminal basics you can read this article.
Once Terminal is open, there will be a cursor in front of a $ sign. This is where you need to start typing. Enter the following line, or you can just copy and paste it from here.
Note: These lines of text are for Debian and Ubuntu based distros. Refer back to the It’s FOSS link for any other OS.
sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:teejee2008/ppa
Then press ENTER. You will be prompted to type your password. Do so and press ENTER.
sudo apt update
Then press ENTER. And finally type:
sudo apt install timeshift
At this point you will need to ensure the drive for your backups is attached.
Timeshift is now installed, and you should have a new icon in your installed software. Open Timeshift, and you will be prompted to enter your password. Go to Settings and select your external as the destination in the location tab, as pictured Below.
In the Type tab make sure you select RSYNC. Additionally, in the Users tab, select your username-home and root folders to include all. When you are happy with your settings, close that window and click Create. Sit back and watch Timeshift work at lightning speed!
Note: If you want Timeshift to work like Time Machine and automatically make incremental backups on a regular basis, you can set that up using the Schedule tab.
I consider it good etiquette to support the free open source software that you use often. If Timeshift becomes your permanent solution to do Linux backups, take note that there is a Donate button on the top right of Timeshift’s main window.