Time Machine clone

I come from Mac environment which includes a backup called Time Machine. It just backs up the complete system and you can restore selectively.

I am looking for something similar, a no frills incremental backup of the complete Linux filesystem. Basically no passwords, no encryptions, incremental backup with hard links to unchanged files and be able to use a file explore tool like Nemo or terminal when I mount the external drive.

Can restic be setup to do this? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

If you want no password and no encryption, then restic isn’t for you. I would however recommend that you rethink that approach, as the features restic provides are actually useful. Why do you want no password and no encryption?

Hard links is not something that restic use to store its data. It’s not like how TM stores its data. You can however browse a restic backup using restic mount.

Given what you say, it seems you want Time Machine. I would however encourage you to use restic instead (as a fellow Mac user)!

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Former Mac user here too. The closest I have seen something come to the way Time Machine creates backups with hard links is a wrapper script for rsync called dirvish. I’ve used that on one customer’s server for a while but I just couldn’t get it to run 100% reliably in cron mode.

But to be honest: the beauty of Time Machine was that you can just take a new Mac, turn it on, attach a backup hdd, wait a while and have the same machine as the old one before you. So I’m backing @rawtaz here: give restic a try. It works very well and I have switched hardware multiple times by just installing Linux on the new machine, mounting my restic backup and rsyncing everything from there. If the password bothers you, just set “hello” or something else as the password.

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FWIW I manage quite a number of Macs (mostly stand-alone, not managed in a central way except being tied to a Windows domain), and over the last ten years I’ve only had one single case where it would really be needed to be able to restore the entire system from scratch onto a new computer. I think that’s the only upside to TM, other than that it doesn’t add anything I consider to be of much value. So for me it’s a no-brainer, I’d rather take the features of restic and that one time per ten years have to live with restoring the user account manually (doesn’t take long anyway). The restore-entire-system-from-backup is a moot point IMO.

Yes Mac’s Time Machine is beauty in simplicity in that it backs up your complete file system to a mounted external drive though you can exclude certain volumes. Yet it still offers complete protection if one chooses by encrypting thus requiring a password to mount the volume.

For my use cases, I don’t want to be forced to install and configure specialized software (which by the way may become defunct) to restore some of my files when the need arises. Just backup to a plain old FS. Protect with encryption and password as an option. Done.

Seems rsync is the closest I can find :slight_smile: (also Timeshift is cool, but whatever reason it only likes to backup system and not user data).

I guess it depends on the scenario. TM is very nice for people who don’t know much of the underlyings of their computers and don’t have access to tech support. Just plugin a USB drive, say yes and if anything goes wrong you have a backup that gets you to exactly where you were - no questions asked. And of course the interface is very usable for non-technical people even while restoring single files.

OT: a joke from the ninetees comes to my mind…

DOS is for people who want to know why their computer doesn’t work,
Windows is for people who don’t want to know why their computer doesn’t work,
Linux is for people who want to know why their computer works and
macOS is for people who don’t want to know why their computer works.

Just be aware that rsync by itself does not keep a history so if you accidentally delete a file and notice after the next backup, you’re out of luck!

rsync is not the same type of backup, so please don’t think that by using rsync you’ll have the same level of backup as you would with restic.

Regarding installing spezialized software, restic is one single binary. It’s literally just a file you download, so that’s not much of “install and configure specialized software”. Also, if you already didn’t want to install anything beyond what comes with macOS, why did you even open this thread in the first place? I don’t really understand what your actual question is.

Here’s a summary:

  • Use TM if you want super easy to use but don’t need the same level of integrity and safety in your backups, and beware that TM does not always work great (I personally stopped using it because it was too buggy). Requires nothing extra to browse the backup storage.

  • Use rsync if you are happy to configure the rsync command a bit (not for those that want the simplicity of TM, and it’s arguably more complex than using restic), and want just plain “file copying” type of backup. Requires nothing extra to browse the backup storage.

  • Use restic if you want a backup that you can verify the integrity of and might want to protect with a password (even if you don’t want to do that, you can just use a simple password and it’s not an issue that it is password protected). Requires a single binary and FUSE to browse the backup storage (but requires just the single binary to list and restore files).

In the end I think it’s a matter of what type of backup you want. Do you want one that will cover your ass and be able to let you know when you have bit rot on your disks, of do you want one that just copies your files for you :slight_smile:

Ill add restic to my toolbox. Nice to see it was added to homebrew. Makes it easy to install. Thanks

I guess homebrew follows the latest release pretty tightly so it should be fine in that regard (some other operating systems’ package managers use extremely old versions of restic). However, you would enjoy a lot of improvements that will be in the next upcoming release of restic if you just use the latest master builds instead, you can download it here. I recommend using that instead of what homebrew provides, at least until the next release of restic is out.

Sounds like what you need is a copy-on-write filesystem which you can take snapshots from time to time. But that’d also has no way to add protection/encryption easily.