An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Quick to answer questions about finding your way around Linux Mint as a new user.
Forum rules
There are no such things as "stupid" questions. However if you think your question is a bit stupid, then this is the right place for you to post it. Stick to easy to-the-point questions that you feel people can answer fast. For long and complicated questions use the other forums in the support section.
Before you post read how to get help. Topics in this forum are automatically closed 6 months after creation.
Locked
JW1949
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:19 am
Location: Scotland

An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by JW1949 »

Having recently updated to 21.1 Vera (Cinnamon), I've been creating a snapshot whenever I do a software update, install an app or make changes to settings. TS writes to a separate disk partition which is not mounted - I think it's not mounted as I can't see it in Nemo !

I also take a weekly copy, using FreeFileSync of either the whole /home folder or of the directory within the home folder where recent & changed files reside to an external disk drive - I'm pretty comfortable with that process but could do with flip flopping the external drive more frequently.

I have a couple of questions - sorry that I am somewhat new to Linux and struggle a bit with the terminology :

(1) Would it be worthwhile to copy my snapshots to the external drive as well ?
(2) What effect would mounting & unmounting this separate disk partition have ? Can I mount a partition through the user interface or does it have to be done using the command line ?
(3) If both my TS snapshots and my data backups (from FFS) were on this separate partition, what would be the best mechanism for copying both to the external device ?

Thanks in advance, Jack.
Last edited by LockBot on Wed Oct 18, 2023 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Topic automatically closed 6 months after creation. New replies are no longer allowed.
User avatar
AZgl1800
Level 20
Level 20
Posts: 11227
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:20 am
Location: Oklahoma where the wind comes Sweeping down the Plains
Contact:

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by AZgl1800 »

NOPE,

do not copy Timeshift snapshots, you will loose every time.
they contain links,
just set it up for 3 to 5 dailys and a week or so, if you want that much.

and yes, NEMO cannot see that partition, unless it is mounted.
in my case, /Backup is mounted at startup, so for me, NEMO can browse thru the partition.
LM21.3 Cinnamon ASUS FX705GM | Donate to Mint https://www.patreon.com/linux_mint
Image
User avatar
GELvdH
Level 5
Level 5
Posts: 984
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:10 am
Location: 3rd rock from Sun

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by GELvdH »

What I have done is to have a second disk for my 'data' and 'timeshift', my apps and OS are kept on my first disk (an ssd) so any updates or additions to software will install independently from my data and timeshift. I have 4 systems so I use a cloud system for synchronizing my data across all 4 systems and my data is always backed up.
Cosmo.
Level 24
Level 24
Posts: 22968
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:34 am

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by Cosmo. »

JW1949 wrote: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:06 am TS writes to a separate disk partition which is not mounted - I think it's not mounted as I can't see it in Nemo !
Check again with Disks.

AZgl1800 told you already, that TS snapshots cannot get copied. FFS backups can get copied. "The best mechanism"? Whatever you like: terminal command, graphical file manager. But why?

I backup daily onto an internal drive and weekly onto an external drive. I see no sense in doubling an existing backup.
User avatar
Lady Fitzgerald
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6016
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:12 pm
Location: AZ, SSA (Squabbling States of America)

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by Lady Fitzgerald »

Cosmo. wrote: Tue Apr 18, 2023 1:53 pm ...AZgl1800 told you already, that TS snapshots cannot get copied. FFS backups can get copied. "The best mechanism"? Whatever you like: terminal command, graphical file manager...
Comparing Timeshift (TS) snapshots to FreeFileSync (FFS) backups is comparing apples to kumquats.

It might be possible to copy TS snapshots by doing it in root but I haven't tried it. I get around the problem on my weekly backups by first creating my snapshots and saving them in a folder on one of my data drives (for convenience), then creating another one and saving it to the backup drive of the data drive I saved the first snapshot to. Since I do my weekly backups to my data drives at the same time, the backup drive that the second snapshot gets saved to is already connected and mounted.

Cosmo. wrote: Tue Apr 18, 2023 1:53 pm ...I backup daily onto an internal drive and weekly onto an external drive. I see no sense in doubling an existing backup.
A "backup" on an internal drive is not a backup; it's redundancy (there are valid reasons for having redundancy but it's not a backup!). If your computer should get stolen or destroyed, your "backup" will be gone with it (at least you do have an external backup drive).

For data to be reasonably safe, it must exist in three, separate places. For most people, that is on the computer, on external backup drive kept disconnected from the computer and powered down (except while updating the backup) and kept onsite, and on an external backup drive kept offsite. An internal "backup" drive is the same as being on the computer. The same is true of drives that stay powered up and connected to the computer at all times, including servers.

Doubling an existing backup makes perfect sense. All drives, no matter what kind they are, how old (or young) they are, how they are used, etc. are subject to sudden, irrecoverable failure with no warning at all. This includes backup drives. Having more than one backup protects against data loss should one of the backups should fail. Having more than one backup drives has saved my bacon (and data) more than once.
Jeannie

To ensure the safety of your data, you have to be proactive, not reactive, so, back it up!
mikeflan
Level 17
Level 17
Posts: 7429
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:28 am
Location: Houston, TX

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by mikeflan »

What effect would mounting & unmounting this separate disk partition have ?
It simply makes that partition available or unavailable.
Can I mount a partition through the user interface or does it have to be done using the command line ?
GUIs such as Nemo and Disks can be used to mount a partition.
User avatar
grndplane
Level 4
Level 4
Posts: 279
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:08 pm
Location: Sunny California - Where everything cost's twice what it should.

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by grndplane »

Timeshift should not store backups to your OS drive. If OS drive goes over 70% full, your system will start slowing down, and at some point it will stop booting. I set mine to backup my system and home partitions once a month on an external drive. I include my external drive in fstab drive list, so it will always be available. I set my backups to only 2, I think that is all that is needed, and you can go back at least 2 months. This is my opinion, and I think it is correct. I see a lot of people say Timeshift killed there system by saving to many backups in there drive. Timeshift is a great tool if used correctly. Let the rants begin. :D
-grndplane (Mike)
Linux Mint 21.x 64-bit
Kernel: 6.X-liquorix-amd64
WM: LeftWM
linux-rox
Level 10
Level 10
Posts: 3355
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:17 pm

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by linux-rox »

JW1949 wrote: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:06 am ... I think it's not mounted as I can't see it in Nemo !
When a snapshot is taken, the target is mounted to /run, which doesn't show up in the left pane of File Manager. You could see it other ways, though, if you wanted to confirm the mount. Would show in Disks, for example. Also if you run lsblk -f.
... could do with flip flopping the external drive more frequently.
What's this about? Do you mean there are two backups, updated in a leapfrog fashion?
(1) Would it be worthwhile to copy my snapshots to the external drive as well ?
Can be done (contrary to assertions above), but almost never worth the trouble. If you want snapshots on the external drive, specify it under Settings > Location and create a new snapshot. FWIW, I do both, i.e., scheduled snapshots to my internal drive and manual snapshots to an external drive.
(2) What effect would mounting & unmounting this separate disk partition have ?
Effect on what? Are you worried about wear-and-tear on the drive? If that's the issue, don't be.
Can I mount a partition through the user interface or does it have to be done using the command line ?
There's a simple GUI mechanism for mounting (and unmounting) partitions: the Disks app (on Menu).
(3) If both my TS snapshots and my data backups (from FFS) were on this separate partition, what would be the best mechanism for copying both to the external device ?
As mentioned, I don't recommend. Wouldn't even save time. If you're keen to so it, requires rsync (a terminal backup utility) and specific flags, including one to preserve hard links. Let's confirm you want to do this (and why) before going into details.

Understand, the primary purpose of Timeshift is to enable you to roll back the system to a prior state. Also can be used for system backup, but not supported out-of-the-box, i.e., takes more than just snapshots to make it work.
motoryzen
Level 11
Level 11
Posts: 3640
Joined: Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:25 am

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by motoryzen »

TS writes to a separate disk partition which is not mounted
Even if it is the case that that particular partition is never auto mounted, if that same drive ( which via your wording makes me believe that separate partition is a part of that same Linux Mint installed drive), ever fails....you still could lose all of those TS snapshots.

It is always wiser to ensure TS is targeting a completely separate physical drive.
Mint 21.2 Cinnamon 5.8.4
asrock x570 taichi ...bios p5.00
ryzen 5900x
128GB Kingston Fury @ 3600mhz
Corsair mp600 pro xt NVME ssd 4TB
three 4TB ssds
dual 1TB ssds
Two 16TB Toshiba hdd's
24GB amd 7900xtx vid card
Viewsonic Elite UHD 32" 144hz monitor
JW1949
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:19 am
Location: Scotland

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by JW1949 »

Many thanks to all of you for the responses.

(1) I should be taking regular Timeshift snapshots - I will do one each time I do an update and each week, I will do another to an external device. I do understand that snapshots cannot be copied.
(2) For my data, I will continue to use FreeFileSync to copy, at a minimum once per week - all my data from time to time, but the data which is changing daily I will backup every week.
(3) The interim backups can be to another partition of the same disk - risks accepted. The weekly must be to an external device and I must use 2 separate external devices on alternate weeks.

Final question, I hope - how many snapshots should I retain ? A bit worried that if TS is incremental, I may not retain all the snapshots I may need for recovery !

Thanks, Jack
Cosmo.
Level 24
Level 24
Posts: 22968
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:34 am

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by Cosmo. »

JW1949 wrote: Sat Apr 22, 2023 9:55 am (1) I should be taking regular Timeshift snapshots - I will do one each time I do an update and each week, I will do another to an external device. I do understand that snapshots cannot be copied.
Regarding this and your final question:

If TS creates a snapshot, it creates hard links for every file, that has not been changed since the last snapshot. Hard links give 2 advantages: Less space is needed (hard links have zero byte) and less time (also near to zero).

If you now switch the snapshot folder, sometimes on partition A, than on B, later again on A, the chance increases dramatically, that far more files have been changed on the same snapshot folder, so far less hard links can get used and the snapshots need far more space and time. (Besides that there is the risk, that you forget to switch back.)

I do snapshots hourly and I do not even notice, that they get created. Reason: There is hardly anything to copy physically. And consequently this needs hardly more space than e.g. weekly snapshots.

Place the snapshot folder on a separate partition, not the system partition and not the home partition (if you have). If the partition should really get filled up, nothing bad will happen. Look in the first time at the TS window, it tells you, how much space is used and you get an idea, how long it will be big enough.

Not to forget: Do not include your home or root into the snapshots. This is not the purpose, for what TS had been designed and further more: The needed space and time would increase dramatically. And that are not even the worst consequences.

Once more back to the final question: The technical method for incremental backups is in case of hard links quite different to that, what you perhaps know from Windows. Windows does not know hard links and incremental backups in Windows do actually rely on the existence of the previous backup. This can give a problem, if an older backup gets removed. With hard links this cannot happen. Assumed, that a file is already backed up and there is no change for it. If a hard link gets created, Linux uses a hard link counter and rises it up to 2, the next time to 3 and so on. If now an older backup gets removed, that hard links counter gets reduced again, physically not this file and no instance of it gets removed. In short: The Linux file system (ext4) is far superior, even if there are people, who do not get it. ( :mrgreen: )
linux-rox
Level 10
Level 10
Posts: 3355
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:17 pm

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by linux-rox »

JW1949 wrote: Sat Apr 22, 2023 9:55 am A bit worried that if TS is incremental, I may not retain all the snapshots I may need for recovery !
As Cosmo says, this is not a problem. Perhaps this explanation I wrote a few years ago will help to understand why. BTW, I was a bit cautious at the time, as it was then a new insight. I'm now quite confident I described correctly how hard links work.
User avatar
JerryF
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6593
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 1:23 pm
Location: Rhode Island, USA

Re: An appropriate use of Timeshift ?

Post by JerryF »

Not all mounts show up in your file manager.

If you have partitions that are being mounted using /etc/fstab entries and they are being mounted at /mnt, they don't always show in the file manager.
Locked

Return to “Beginner Questions”