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How to backup/sync all of your dotfiles​ with Github

jeffshomali profile image Jeff Shomali ・2 min read

As a developer, one of the challenges that we are facing every day is to backup or sync up all of our dot(.) files with a new or another environment. There are many dotfiles in my machine such as .alias, .vimrc, .zshrc, .gitconfig etc...

I'm not going to explain how to get a back up of all your files because each one of us has a different environment, so I'll explain how to backup your VS-Code setting. I know there is a VS-Code extension that syncs up your setting with Github. Our goal is to understand how to back up #vscode settings, snippets, extensions, and sync it with Github manually.

Create a Script

  • Create a new Github repository in your Github.com
  • In your local machine go to the desktop and open an empty folder in your terminal
  • Initiate an empty Git repository with $ git init and connect the local repo to newly created repo with $ git remote add git@github.com:yourusername/yourrepo.git

  • Create a shell script and name it whatever you want, like backup.sh and past the following code on that file.

#!/bin/bash


# check to see is git command line installed in this machine
IS_GIT_AVAILABLE="$(git --version)"
if [[ $IS_GIT_AVAILABLE == *"version"* ]]; then
  echo "Git is Available"
else
  echo "Git is not installed"
  exit 1
fi


# copy Vs-Code files
cp  $HOME/Library/Application\ 
Support/Code/User/{keybindings.json,settings.json,spellright.dict} .

# copy snippets folder
cp -r $HOME/Library/Application\ Support/Code/User/snippets .

# copy list of extensions that currently installed
code --list-extensions --show-versions >> ../../vscode/extensions.txt

# copy other dot files 
cp  $HOME/{.zshrc,.vimrc} .



# Check git status
gs="$(git status | grep -i "modified")"
# echo "${gs}"

# If there is a new change
if [[ $gs == *"modified"* ]]; then
  echo "push"
fi


# push to Github
git add -u;
git commit -m "New backup `date +'%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S'`";
git push origin master
  • Change the script permission with $ chmod +x backup.sh.
  • Run the script with $ ./backup.sh

If you want to run in background services:

  • crontab -e and add your script path and time you want to run the script for example
$ crontab -e  # this is open the cronjobs table in vim mode use i for insert mode

# this is run the script every minutes
$ 1 * * * * cd /Users/macp15/Projects/dotfiles/scripts/backup && ./backup.sh

# display list of cron jobs
$ crontab -l

Done (Khalas).

Discussion

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bnikanjam profile image
Babak Nikanjam

Great explanation, very useful and real problem solver. Nice touch on having it run as a background service automatically (periodically). I love these kind of short and neat learning drops. Thanks Jeff.

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msfjarvis profile image
Harsh Shandilya

VS Code has an extension that implements most of this minus the automatic sync (AFAICT) called Syncing that uses Gists instead of a full repo.

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sientelo profile image
Paul Murray

Thank you, this is the easiest dotfiles backup solution I have found. Question - when restoring the dotfiles to a new machine, is it just a matter of basically pulling the remote Git repo to the new machine and then running ./backup.sh ? I did this but my .dotfiles in my new home directory are not updating with the files created in the /dotfiles directory

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notaduck profile image
notaduck

Nice article, but I think you should take a look at stow! It is amazing for managing your dotfiles.

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bgopikrishna profile image
Gopi Krishna

Thanks, Great article.