Backup and Restore Your Ubuntu System using Sbackup

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Data can be lost in different ways some of them are because of hardware failures,you accidentally delete or overwrite a file. Some data loss occurs as a result of natural disasters and other circumstances beyond your control.

Now we will see a easy backup and restore tool called "sbackup"

SBackup is a simple backup solution intended for desktop use. It can backup any subset of files and directories. Exclusions can be defined by regular expressions. A maximum individual file size limit can be defined. Backups may be saved to any local and remote directories that are supported by gnome-vfs. There is a Gnome GUI interface for configuration and restore.

Installing sbackup in ubuntu

sudo apt-get install sbackup

You can use synaptic also for this if you want to know how to search this software and install check here

Backup Your Data Using Sbackup

Once you completed the installation you can access sbackup using System--->Administration--->Simple Backup Config you can see this in the following screen

Next screen is asking for root password enter password and click ok

Once it opens the sbackup application you can see the following screen where you can configure your backup settings first tab is general options in this example i am choosing "Use custom backup settings"

Sbackup can be operated in 3 different modes

Recommended Backup

If you are new Ubuntu user or aren't sure what you should backup.This will perform a daily backup of your /home,system data held in /etc,/usr/local and /var.This will deliberately exclude any files over 100MB.By default this backup will be stored /var/backup

Custom Backup

This is same as the recommended backup and in this you can change the settings include,exclude files,you can change the schedule time.

Manual Backup

If you want to backup some files from time to time this option is for you and you can click backup now button to manually perform a backup according to the settings on the other backup properties dialog box tabs.

Next you click on "Include" tab here you can include any file or directory you want to backup

If you click on "Add file" button you should see the following screen where you can select your files

If you click on "Add Directory" button you should see the following screen where you can select your Directory for backup

Next option is "Exclude" here you can exclude files and folders you don't want to backup.Here you can exclude Paths,File Types,Regular Expressions,Max file,folder size

Next option is "Destination" here i am leaving the default location i.e /var/backup if you want to chnage the backup store location you can select the "Use Custom local Backup directory" and enter the location

Now you can select "Time" option here you can schedule when do you want to run your backup.

Available options for backups you can see in the following screen you can select hourly,daily,weekly,monthly,custom options

Next option is "Purging" here you can select old and incomplete backups and you set the no.of days you want to purge after completing all the settings you need to click on "Save" button to save your settings.

Now if you want to take backup just click on "Backup Now" or leave the schedule backup in this example i just clicked on "Backup Now" this is started a background process with process id you can see this in the following screen

Restore Your Data Using Sbackup

If you want to restore backups or any files,folders go to System--->Administration--->Simple Backup Restore you can see this in the following screen

Once it opens you should see the following screen here you can select the restore source folder and available backups from drop-down menu here you can choose files and folders you want to restore and click on "Restore" button

In this example i have choosen to restore one .iso file and once you select your file and click on "Restore" it will ask for your confirmation click on yes this will restore the file in orginal location if you want to restore in different location you need to select "Restore As" option

Note:- By default Restored Files and Directories are owned by root this is because of sbackup will runs with root.You need to chnage these files or folder permissions using chmod or just right click and select properties of the file or folder.

Backup Destination on Remote machine

One more beauty about sbackup is you can store your backup on a remotemachine for this it will give the option of using SSH or FTP for this go to System---> Administration---> Simple Backup Config once it opens the application you need to click on destination tab here you can select "Use a remote Directory" option type ssh:// or ftp:// followed by the username:password, then @, then the remote host to connect to and the remote directory.

Final Tip:-

Sbackup doesn't create a new backup file each time it runs and it creates an incremental backup.Which means that it updates the last backup with files that you changed or been created any files that haven't been updated since the last backup are unchanged

Sbackup Configuration from command line

If you want to configure sbackup you need to Edit /etc/sbackup.conf file

Restore Backup from command line

Run "sudo /var/backup/2006-11-18_03 /home/myuser /home/myuser/old". You can omit the last parameter to restore to the same directory.

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33 Responses

  1. tony says:

    Looks like a great guide – just what I needed to backup my Ubuntu partition.
    Question? Now that I have configured SBackup and started to do a backup, to another partition, what will happen if my Ubuntu crashes and I need to restore it. Will I be able to restore it using the Live CD?, or perhaps thru Sabayaon which I have on another partition?

    regards and thanks for the guide!

    Tony (tchoklat)

  2. Polygon says:


    I am going to be taking this guide and adding it to the ubuntu wiki’s BackupYourSystem page. The full URL is here:

    thank you for providing pictures! they are much better then just text alone 😀


  3. airtonix says:

    you should combine this with aptoncd …

    then you have a one click install of all your software again.

    then restore this back from sbackup and you also have all your original settings

    very nice….

  4. Frank says:

    I just backed up my Edgie installation and it worked fine once I had finally figured that I had to save the configuration. (I finally read what was right there in front of me!) Would there be any possible way to have some sort of indicator on the gui to show the backup is actually taking place and a notification that the backup is done?


  5. Jeff says:

    OK, I would like to save the backup to an external location (CD/DVD/USB hard disk, etc) but the destination tab doesn’t seem to support this. Any thoughts?

  6. Mike says:

    Under the Destination tab, select custom local backup directory. Then click on the drop-down, select other, and browse to your custom location.

  7. Frank says:

    However, there is only “root” folder. I can’t leave that in order to select the external usb hard disk. I like to backup directly to there. How?

  8. benjou says:

    The full backup on an ftp server seem to work but sbackup doesn’t want to do incremental backup. It’s a full backup everyday 😮

    And also I can’t find any log of my backup…

  9. Bill says:

    Is there a way to do a full backup by default instead of Incremental ?


  10. floyd says:

    Mate – have been playing around with Ubuntu for maybe 6 months now
    > (started with RedHat 7 but it was too unlike MSWin for me in general ops
    > so I scrubbed Linux until Ubuntu came along) – would dual boot XP or
    > Linux by removing HDD but now very happy with the penguin, upgraded 6.06
    > to 8.04, downloaded programs and codecs such as Amarok, Ogle, VLC media
    > player, graphics programs etc. and have got the tower pc running how I
    > want. I was thinking of running Debian Etch which I’ve played with on
    > live cd only but I’ve become accustomed to ubuntu with the non geeky
    > ease of it.
    > Now I’m happy with Linux and using Wine / Codeweavers for certain
    > Windows programs, I plan on getting a laptop and running Linux only.
    > Tower was used to familiarize myself and make sure I’d be happy with a
    > single OS laptop as I’d rather not have to dual boot or run a virtual
    > desktop.
    > Do any of the prior downloads re DVD codecs / programs etc have to be
    > re-downloaded via synaptic package manager etc or can I backup files /
    > folders from the tower pc and re-install onto laptop thus reducing
    > internet downloads? i.e. can I just copy files from the i.e. bin folder
    > (or where ever the files would be), onto a USB stick and paste onto the
    > laptop folder?
    Not overly au fait with the command line / terminal work so plain
    > English explanations would be much app.
    > Thnx

  11. redworm says:

    i used sbackup but the tar background process would never complete resulting in .tar.gz files that would end up on my external hard drive that were unusuable. there is no progress meter and i’m not sure if the tar background process would have ever completed if i had waited long enough. judging my only the sound of my hard drive, things weren’t being archived. i’m not sure if this solution will work for me, i had chosen to only backup /home/jdaniels and exclude one other directory, /home/jdaniels/unsorted can anyone offer any suggestions or perhaps another backup program that will launch at specified times, and only update changed files? i wish this would work for me

  12. PGTips91 says:

    Another tool that is even simpler to use, I think, is grsync, which will mirror your selected folder(s) to a different location.

    The thing that I like about grsync is that there is ever only one place and one backup to restore from.


  13. Patrick says:

    Nice post, thanks

  14. Jerad says:

    So I am sitting in the livecd restoring a backup made with sbackup. I lost my entire /home partition due to a power loss while i was moving a partition.

    One huge drawback is that if you pick the latest backup, and it doesnt happen to be a full but instead only an incremental, it only restores those files. There is no option to restore back to all of the files you had on a certain backup day. So I am having to restore the last full backup, and then restore each incremental over top of the last.

    It is going to take a while…. I really want something like norton ghost that will backup all my files while keeping permissions.

    Anyone know of something like that?

  15. Max Popp says:

    So the permissions and ownership of the backed files and directories are changed? And then to be restored manually? How is one supposed to do that when a very large number of files are involved?

    I have restored a whole directory of apps, and now I am having great difficulty trying to get them to work because of the changed permissions/ownerships. Any help and/or suggestions will be welcome.


  16. Pierre says:

    I can’t come to terms just how painfully slow sback is on a restore!

    I needed to recover a single text file from a back up. FOUR HOURS to recover it from a 50G archive.

    That’s awful.

  17. Evan R. Murphy says:

    Useful guide to make sure I’m doing this right, thanks!

  18. Skip Guenter says:

    Jeff says:
    June 8, 2007 at 5:15 am

    OK, I would like to save the backup to an external location (CD/DVD/USB hard disk, etc) but the destination tab doesn’t seem to support this. Any thoughts?
    Mike says:
    June 14, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Under the Destination tab, select custom local backup directory. Then click on the drop-down, select other, and browse to your custom location.
    Frank says:
    June 22, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    However, there is only “root” folder. I can’t leave that in order to select the external usb hard disk. I like to backup directly to there. How?
    Skip Answers:
    Now once you have that first browse box in custom local open select “other” you can the select anyplace you want.. go to where your removable media was mounted. Often it is mounted in /media.
    Bill says:
    December 13, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Is there a way to do a full backup by default instead of Incremental ?
    Skip Answers:
    Yes, Go to the “time” tab and set “Do a full backup at least…” to 1 day.
    Jerad says:
    December 9, 2008 at 2:00 am
    …I really want something like norton ghost that will backup all my files while keeping permissions. Anyone know of something like that?
    Skip Answers:
    There are more than a few answers. If you want something that makes drive or partition images like ghost and Acronis True Image (better than ghost IMHO) take a look into gddrescue or dd to make a image copy of the partition. There are several other backup packages that will schedule the backups also… sorta depends on where you want the backups to go. BackupPC (network disk), Rdiff, Amanda… but these are more geared to multiple machine backups. With enough googling you could probably find a script that somebody has written that will use rsync to make scheduled backups… SysAdmins used to to it all the time.

    I had one other idea on this. In /usr/share/sbackup there’s the main python script. You can find the tar command line in that. Anybody brave ’nuff to add a “p” to the tar options? The main command line is:
    “tar -czS -C / –no-recursion –ignore-failed-read –null -T “+flist_name+” ”

    The “p” option in tar says “preserve”. I wonder if you couldn’t stick a “p” between the “z” and “S” to become “tar -czpS”. Anybody know how to contact author or maintainer so I could they could tell me why it’s not that simple?
    Max Popp says:
    December 15, 2008 at 6:05 am
    …Any help and/or suggestions will be welcome.
    Skip Answers:
    Often a directory will have pretty much the same permissions through out so you could just do a recursive chmod or a recursive chown with the “-R” option on either. So you could go one directory above the one you restored and set permissions with something like: “chmod a+rw -R restrddir” to set all the files in and below restrddir to read/write by all. You can also do wildcards such as “chmod a+x *.sh” to make all bash scripts executable.
    Now I forgot my question 🙁

  19. Skip Guenter says:

    Oh yea, Jerad/others… some other options you might look at… backerupper, quickstart, pybackpack, etc… take a look at

    Later this week I should have some time to test making the hack to sbackup so it preserves permissions. If it works I’ll post back here with link to download the modded code.

  20. Skip Guenter says:

    Anyone know where or how to make sbackup produce a logfile of what it did when?

  21. Barry says:

    Thanks for this very useful guide. This really helped me simply back up!!

  22. cameron says:

    Thanks for this useful howto,

  23. Fr33d0m says:

    Don’t do this if you want a reliable backup!

  24. Pierre says:

    I agree. It let me down big time recently. Corrupted archive file (no EOF marker).

    Until such time as it provides automatic backup file verification sbackup should only be used as a second or third tier strategy.

    It’s a pity we have nothing to match Acronis

  25. Klaus says:

    backing up the necesary data indeed is relatively simple using sbackup. But restoring data onto a new harddisk that only contains Linux as OS could be more complicated. My assumption is that i have to restore/transfer the data onto a new pc.
    Maybe someone can let me (us) benefit from his of her experience.
    Other than that it is a great way of explaining the workings of a piece of software by using images instead of just text.

  26. donald says:

    I installed sbackup and then didn’t immediately modify configuration or run the app. And experienced a doosey, which I couldn’t attirbute to a rouge process or ¿virus? – it wasn’t a virus… YEAAA Linux!

    Please ensure you have /var/backup as a valid folder, since the destination tab uses it as a default. I didn’t! in my dist (8.10). It was /var/backups on my laptop. sbackup then chose /var/archive since it couldn’t find /var/backup and then filled up my filesystem drive so I had not freespace and I couldn’t figure out why for a couple weeks after checking all kinds of posts. I then couldn’t install anything since the drive was out of space, etc, etc.

    I ultimately had to gksudo nautilus then shift-delete the backups. I removed sbackup for now then will decide on my next plan of action.

    I hope this helps others that might come across this scary event.

  27. Klaus says:

    Much appreciate yr reaction donald.
    Meanwhile i’m using Grsync.
    Simple but effective. It copies my /home partition onto the ext. harddrive and from there to my laptop as the ultimate backup.
    Maybe u want to have a look yrself, i can recommend it as an alt. for sback up.

  28. Nasaq says:

    can i backup my system (9.04) and restore it to 9.10 ???.

    and when i upgrade to 9.10, does my app(from 9.04) die ?

  29. Rytron says:

    Hi. Great guide. Is this essentially the same as System Restore in Windows XP?

  30. Bruno says:

    This program is awful!!! It saved a pseudo-backup in an external disk which was not connected and filled up /media/, blocking my whole system. Smart, uh?

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