Timeshift confusion

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wwblm
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Timeshift confusion

Post by wwblm »

Yesterday I made a completely boneheaded mistake and deleted my boot partition. Testing my backup system was not part of the agenda for the day but here we are. Redundancy saved the day as one snapshot failed and here I am typing this from a system that appears to be exactly how I left it.

Not sure about the point of the backup tool and the backups I have made with that. Was reasonably sure I left the defaults in place for Timeshift other than pointing it to a separate disk. I thought that by default it excluded /home. I know I had to erase and install after my mistake so there would have been no trace of my /home folder to work with.

Based on what I am typing this on it sure looks to me like Timeshift is capable of restoring the entire system, including home, taking you right back to a functioning system as I would expect from a snapshot of my system. Is this a bug in the system that /home is not excluded by default or do I just not understand something? The whole idea of a snapshot that doesn't include home just makes no sense to me. What do I not understand here? I booted from a LiveCD, restored a snapshot to a fresh install, and ended up with my system running just like I left it. Why wouldn't that be the default? If I did change the default why wouldn't that be the advice given about how to use Timeshift?

Today's plan includes creating a foxclone as that is something I expect to know how to do and have if needed. However, having the ability to restore a fully functioning system with a snapshot is critical and I am having trouble understanding if I am using timeshift correctly.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by OunceofCommonSense »

I have to agree, including Home in Timeshift backups works well for me. I have separate data parttions that contain music and videos and Thunderbird profile and archives which are backed up separately from Timeshift backups. But Home contains important configuration files that Timeshift backs up so I am able to restore my system to working order if there is a problem. However I don't think everyone would agree with this.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by Hoser Rob »

Strongly disagree here. Timeshift is an excellent pro quality program that does what it says on the box. I.e. make snapshots of the / folder so you can recover from screwups and/or bad updates, which do happen. It isn't meant for general backups. Trying to outsmart developers is a dumb idea. Use something else for data backup.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AndyMH »

Including home in a timeshift snapshot is a really bad idea. Timeshift provides no options to select/deselect files in home on a restore. The consequence is that fixing a problem with the system with a timeshift restore could overwrite newer files in home, thereby losing data. If you had written the last few chapters of your "war & peace", had a crash and done a timeshift restore would you be happy with losing that work?

Use timeshift for what it is intended for - the system, and leave home alone. There are a lot of backup utilities for home, backintime is just one (and the one I use).

If I screw up the system, timeshift gets it back leaving my data files unchanged. If I accidentally delete some data files, backintime gets them back (it is very easy in backintime to restore individual files) leaving everything else unchanged.

Foxclone is not an alternative, it is "as well as". It takes an image of your drive, it knows nothing about files, just used blocks in partitions. You have to restore a complete partition - same issue as timeshift and home, no control over individual files. It is for disaster recovery - your last line of defence.

I take a foxclone image backup once every few months. I have timeshift and backintime running daily automatically. If I have a major problem, e.g. drive failure, foxclone will get me back a working system, timeshift and backintime will get me back to yesterday.

The mint backup tool is a waste of space. It is no good as a routine backup tool - too clunky. There are much better alternatives available. It does have one potential use - a complete re-install on a major version change, e.g. LM21 to LM22. You can save your "software selection" (with limitations) and create an archive of home (but it is clunky).
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by wwblm »

Andy
Thank you for your reply! I understand what you are saying. Now I need to see if I can understand how my home folder got backed up that way in the first place. Also, it looks like I will have to check out backintime. I have the backup tool backups but now see why that didn't look great to me. Realize that the foxclone thing is an also have but I just have to know that I can have it;-)
Just getting to this stuff now as up to this point everything important was on my Mac and Mint was mostly just a toy. Things are real now and obviously, I need to be competent at this. Thirty years of staying in an environment where I did all of this in my sleep so to speak and now I need to get there in this environment.
PS.
Should one make it standard practice to keep another boot drive (LiveCD for example) and do the timeshift restore from there? I did one on a running system and that did not go well. Could have been the drive though but it did make me think restoring may very well be best done when booted from something other than what you are restoring to.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AndyMH »

Key things about timeshift:

It is a front end for a terminal utility rsync, most GUI linux file level backup utilities are front ends for rsync.

First time you run timeshift it copies everything. Thereafter it only copies what has changed = quick. But each snapshot is complete, it does this by using hard links to point at the backup copy of files that have not changed. For practical purposes hard links take up no additional space*. Win filesystems do not support linux hard links which is why your destination must be an ext4 partition.

Backintime works just like timeshift - a front end for rsync, takes snapshots, uses hard links (so the destination must be ext4). The differences are:
  • default setting for backintime is only home. Default setting for timeshift is everything except home, so complementary.
  • in timeshift you select the destination by specifying the partition, e.g. sdb2. In backintime you specify the mountpoint. If you are saving to an external drive, when you plug it in the system will automount any partitions in /media/you. If you don't have a label on the partition it will use the UUID, e.g. /media/you/ebf8a5ec-e041-4324-93f3-222e5adc035d, not user friendly. If you have a label on the partition, e.g. mybackup, it will mount it at /media/you/mybackup, more friendly. Always add labels to partitions on external drives, you can do this with disks or gparted.
  • and it is very easy to selete individual files/folders to restore.
It always a good idea to have a boot stick to hand, you can do a timeshift restore from it. If you have screwed up your system and it still boots, you can restore timeshift "normally". Ventoy is the best tool for the job (a multi-boot solution - you can have lots of isos on it).

I go one step further. All my PCs have an internal/removable drive used only for backup. I have another copy of mint installed on the backup drive so I don't have to mess around with sticks.

* most file utilities like your file manager get confused by hard links, so if you used your file manager to figure out how much space your snapshots were taking it will get the answer wrong - double counting all those hard links.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AZgl1800 »

A Great Front End GUI for ‘RSYNC’
works like BackInTime, but is much easier to use.
Tony states that it uses routines in BackIntime and Baqpaq

the neat thing is, you can use NEMO to browse thru the backups and select a single file.

Homi by Tony George – a great new /home backup application

$15 for Homi, I use it with an External USB SeaGate Hub
when I need to disconnect the hub, I click on "Disable" which causes it to Rsync, then I wait a while to be sure all activity is gone.
then click "Safely Remove Drive" on the Hub USB drive.
https://teejeetech.com/tag/homi/

my thread on Mint
viewtopic.php?t=399226

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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AndyMH »

Just to add that Tony George is the original developer of timeshift - he has a pedigree.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by fstjohn »

AndyMH wrote: Fri Nov 17, 2023 1:04 pm The mint backup tool is a waste of space. It is no good as a routine backup tool - too clunky. There are much better alternatives available. It does have one potential use - a complete re-install on a major version change, e.g. LM21 to LM22. You can save your "software selection" (with limitations) and create an archive of home (but it is clunky).
IMO a much better alternative to restore after major version change is Aptik. Make an Aptik backup including /home, do a fresh install of the new version, load and run Aptik from the backup. Works for me.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AZgl1800 »

fstjohn wrote: Fri Nov 17, 2023 3:32 pm IMO a much better alternative to restore after major version change is Aptik. Make an Aptik backup including /home, do a fresh install of the new version, load and run Aptik from the backup. Works for me.
I have done that for quick and dirty backup laptops that I need to "Jump and Run" and not take a chance on breaking my good one at home.

it does as you describe, perfectly.

on my "Daily Driver"
/home is in a Dedicated partition
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by OunceofCommonSense »

Hoser Rob wrote: Fri Nov 17, 2023 12:48 pm Strongly disagree here. Timeshift is an excellent pro quality program that does what it says on the box. I.e. make snapshots of the / folder so you can recover from screwups and/or bad updates, which do happen. It isn't meant for general backups. Trying to outsmart developers is a dumb idea. Use something else for data backup.
As I stated I have data on separate partitions from Home, also on data partitions Thunderbird and I should have said Fireox (profiles and archives on separate drives), It works very well for me and I don't lose configuration files in Home when I use Timeshift that way. The fact that Timeshift is set up with the option of backing up Home as well as Root indicates to me I am using it as the developer intended
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by wwblm »

Update:

As suggested elsewhere, I need to keep better notes;-) Timeshift backed up home because I told it to back up home (then promptly forgot that I did so). Turns out that it was fortunate as I was able to fully restore with minimal effort. Thanks to this thread I now understand why the default is no home and have new timeshift routines that do not include home and backintime for home. I also have a clone stored in a separate building. Feeling much much better about the backup situation now.

The one thing that I still would like to chase down at some point is whether I can make the backup stuff just work when the backup media is mounted. Backintime is setup to do that but does not. Have two profiles for two separate pieces of media and neither initiates backup on mount. Both backup fine but I have to launch Backintime and do so manually. Have Timeshift set to run daily on two separate pieces of media as well. Perhaps if I set it to hourly? My daily driver is a laptop so I usually do not have an external drive attached. As it is now, it is not particularly difficult to just run Timeshift when I put a Timeshift drive in, and Backintime when I put one of those drives in. Just don't like the fact that I haven't been able to figure out how to make the appropriate task run when the drive is mounted.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AZgl1800 »

Daily is good enough

if the target location is not available, it cannot run on Automatic
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by mcfardo907 »

wwblm wrote: Fri Nov 17, 2023 12:05 pm Based on what I am typing this on it sure looks to me like Timeshift is capable of restoring the entire system, including home, taking you right back to a functioning system as I would expect from a snapshot of my system. Is this a bug in the system that /home is not excluded by default or do I just not understand something? The whole idea of a snapshot that doesn't include home just makes no sense to me. What do I not understand here? I booted from a LiveCD, restored a snapshot to a fresh install, and ended up with my system running just like I left it. Why wouldn't that be the default? If I did change the default why wouldn't that be the advice given about how to use Timeshift?
Timeshift is an easy tool to use when it comes to making backups. I had to do a timeshift restore today after I borked something up. It restored my entire Linux install...including my home partition. You can specify which directories to back up. Timeshift does have options, and you can customize a backup.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by wwblm »

Update 2

First a sincere thank you to those who have participated in this thread! I can now understand why some think Timeshift should include home while others do not. Am grateful that I did have it set to include home and now that I understand it better I am happy to have it not include home. The discussion has been much appreciated!

Just discovered Ventoy so now I have a really neat boot stick available!

Just starting to learn about QEMU / KVM. Was thinking this was going to be interesting in terms of Timeshift. Was going to ask about it in this thread but decided to look at my Timeshift settings first. This time I am certain that I did not touch anything and am quite impressed with Timeshift. The VMs are excluded from my Timeshift. Will decide independently how I want to deal with backing up the VMs and that is how I want it to be.

Still not sure if Timeshift will eventually start on it's daily schedule when I connect one of the drives. It appears to sometimes do this and sometimes not. Perhaps more patience on my part? Don't really care as I just run it when I connect a drive anyway. Same with Backintime. Thought I had it working on mount but still have to figure that one out. Again, at the moment, I don't really care as when I plug a drive in I am perfectly capable of starting the backup process. One day I hope to not have to but that is not a particularly big deal -- too many other things to learn!
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AZgl1800 »

wwblm wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 2:07 pmuch appreciated!

Just discovered Ventoy so now I have a really neat boot stick available!

Still not sure if Timeshift will eventually start on it's daily schedule when I connect one of the drives. It appears to sometimes do this and sometimes not. Perhaps more patience on my part?

Don't really care as I just run it when I connect a drive anyway.

Same with Backintime. Thought I had it working on mount but still have to figure that one out. Again, at the moment, I don't really care as when I plug a drive in I am perfectly capable of starting the backup process. One day I hope to not have to but that is not a particularly big deal -- too many other things to learn!
glad to see that you have discovered Ventoy, what a joy that feature is.

but, you do NOT need to run Timeshift manually each time you boot up, IF, you will open SETTINGS and click the option for it to run at boot time.

TS Boot option.jpg
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by wwblm »

AZgl1800 wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 4:04 pm
glad to see that you have discovered Ventoy, what a joy that feature is.

but, you do NOT need to run Timeshift manually each time you boot up, IF, you will open SETTINGS and click the option for it to run at boot time.


TS Boot option.jpg
It's not on boot that is the issue. The issue is that this is my laptop. Currently, I have 2 timeshift drives and 2 data backups plus 1 clone. Soon to have 3 data and backup plus another clone. The clone is obviously a manual and occasional thing. However, the Timeshift and data backups need to run regularly. I don't boot my laptop that often -- less frequently than I should be running my backups. What I hope to end up with is a situation where whenever any of the backup drives get mounted, the appropriate backup function writes to that drive -- Timeshift or data backup.
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AZgl1800 »

go back and look at my pix
I have Daily, Weekly, and Monthly backups

if you get real twitchy, you can get hourly, but that is a PITA ... not doing that.

My laptop rarely ever gets turned off, and here is what my backups look like

TS Bkups.jpg
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AZgl1800 »

Just to show you what I mean,
I set it to keep 2 Boot snapshots.

TS Boot 2.jpg
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Re: Timeshift confusion

Post by AZgl1800 »

the Boot snapshot does not occur immediately after boot up.

it took a while, it just now finished, so look at my Post times, and you can see you just need to leave it alone, and not worry about it, they will run eventually.

TS Boot recorded.jpg
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