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Mir Rahed Uddin
Mir Rahed Uddin

Posted on • Updated on

How to Use Timeshift from Command Line in Linux

What is Timeshift?

Timeshift is a great tool, which monitors your system & application-level changes and gives you the ability to roll back your system in the previous state, in case, you run into a problem (Similar like Windows restore point)


Why should you use the Timeshift from the Command line/Terminal when you have a GUI version?

Well, using the timeshift in GUI mode is absolutely fine. Nothing to complain here. However, imagine a situation, where your video driver is broken due to some unstable update or maybe something terrible happens with your system and you are not able to use the Timeshift GUI version to rollback your system to the previous state, then you have only the Timeshift CLI option available.

How to use Timeshift from the command line?

At first, make sure that the timeshift is installed in your system. If not, then install it using sudo apt install timeshift

Creating a Restore point

Now, launch your terminal and type the following command

sudo timeshift --create --comments "A new backup" --tags D

Restore Point

(Creating a restore point/snapshot may take several minutes, depends on the size of the files & your hardware resources)

-- comments "A new backup"

You can write anything as a comment, it doesn't matter that much.

--tags D

There are several tags, that specify what kind of backup it is.

As an example

--tags D stands for Daily Backup

--tags W stands for Weekly Backup

--tags M stands for Monthly Backup

--tags O stands for On-demand Backup

You can put any tag as your wish, after the comments

Restoring a snapshot

sudo timeshift --restore

This command shows you a list of created snapshots & ask, from which snapshot you want to restore the system, you have to select the snapshot index to proceed further


After that, press the Enter key to continue, when It asks about reinstalling the GRUB2 bootloader, press the 'y' key, then press the Enter key again & finally, press the 'y' key to start the system restore...



At this moment, you have restored the system successfully, and the PC will take a reboot to ensure that your restoration is fully done.

(**When your PC is in the restoring phase, don't do any work. It might interfere with the restoring process.)

Watch on YouTube

Thanks for the reading :)


Top comments (6)

malizadeh7 profile image
Mahdi Alizadeh


bravo4one profile image

with CLI, how do you specify the target device?

rahedmir profile image
Mir Rahed Uddin • Edited

I am not sure though but it should be something like this...
sudo timeshift --create --comments "new backup" --tags D --snapshot-device /dev/sda1
(/dev/sda1 is an example of your target device location)

kicey profile image

Otherwise, you can edit the config file in /etc/timeshift/timeshift.json to change the default target.

Thread Thread
thumbone profile image
Bernd Wechner

Curiously I installed timeshift on an Ubuntu server:

sudo apt install timeshift

and I find two config file candidates:

$ ll /etc/timeshift*
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  548 Mar 16  2020 /etc/timeshift.json

total 20
drwxr-xr-x   2 root root  4096 Oct 26 10:25 ./
drwxr-xr-x 137 root root 12288 Oct 26 12:22 ../
-rw-r--r--   1 root root   548 Mar 16  2020 timeshift.json
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with puzzling dates no less. And the contents are far from clear or well documented anywhere:

$ cat /etc/timeshift.json 
  "backup_device_uuid" : "",
  "parent_device_uuid" : "",
  "do_first_run" : "true",
  "btrfs_mode" : "false",
  "include_btrfs_home" : "false",
  "stop_cron_emails" : "true",
  "schedule_monthly" : "false",
  "schedule_weekly" : "false",
  "schedule_daily" : "false",
  "schedule_hourly" : "false",
  "schedule_boot" : "false",
  "count_monthly" : "2",
  "count_weekly" : "3",
  "count_daily" : "5",
  "count_hourly" : "6",
  "count_boot" : "5",
  "snapshot_size" : "0",
  "snapshot_count" : "0",
  "exclude" : [
  "exclude-apps" : [
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albeit identical in the two files. I find the dearth of documentation here:

on the config file (location and contents) mildly frustrating (but not totally surprising or disconcerting as it is FOSS and I know the deal and am overridingly grateful just for its existence and reliability).

But the most interesting thing, and real reason I drop comment here is that the config file lacks any evidence of snapshot-device having only backup_device_uuid (which I might infer - though would prefer to see documented - is the device that is being backed up not the device being backed up to - the source, not the destination). And I might guess further that adding snapshot-device to the config file might work, but would remain curious if we can't specify a target folder (rather than device).

vincentau profile image

Thanks. Managed a system recovery from "Failed to start light display manager".