rdiff-backup foo bar rdiff-backup backup foo bar
rdiff-backup version 2.1, there have been two separate syntaxes for the command line interface, differentiated by the
--new flag. Legacy CLI commands follow the syntax
rdiff-backup [options…] [source…] [destination…], while the new CLI uses the syntax
rdiff-backup [global options…] action [action-specific options…] [locations…]. The functionality of the commands are the same, but for completeness the examples in this document will be given in both the old and new syntax side-by-side.
Simplest case---backup local directory
foo to local directory
bar will end up a copy of
foo, except it will contain the directory foo/rdiff-backup-data, which will allow rdiff-backup to restore previous states.
rdiff-backup foo bar rdiff-backup backup foo bar
Simple remote case---backup directory
/some/local-dir to the directory
/whatever/remote-dir on the machine hostname.net.
It uses ssh to open the necessary pipe to the remote copy of rdiff-backup.
Just like the above except one directory is on a remote computer.
rdiff-backup /some/local-dir hostname.net::/whatever/remote-dir rdiff-backup backup /some/local-dir hostname.net::/whatever/remote-dir
This time the source directory is remote and the destination is local. Also, we have specified the username on the remote host (by default ssh will attempt to log you in with the same username you have on the local host).
rdiff-backup firstname.lastname@example.org::/remote-dir local-dir rdiff-backup backup email@example.com::/remote-dir local-dir
It is even possible for both the source and destination directories to be on other machines.
Below we have also added the
-v5 switch for greater verbosity (verbosity settings go from 0 to 9, with 3 as the default), and the
--print-statistics switch so some statistics will be displayed at the end (even without this switch, the statistics will still be saved in the
rdiff-backup -v5 --print-statistics user1@host1::/source-dir user2@host2::/dest-dir rdiff-backup -v5 --print-statistics backup user1@host1::/source-dir user2@host2::/dest-dir
Suppose earlier we have run
rdiff-backup foo bar, with both foo and bar local.
We accidentally deleted
foo/dir and now want to restore it from
cp -a bar/dir foo/dir
That’s right, since rdiff-backup makes a mirror, we can retrieve files using standard commands like
For the rest of the examples in the section, we will assume that the user has backed up with the command
rdiff-backup local-dir host.net::/remote-dir.
Of course, in all these examples it would be equally possible to have the source being remote and the backup directory local.
In this case we can’t use
cp to copying
local-dir/file because they are on different machines.
We can get rdiff-backup to restore the current version of that file using either of these::
rdiff-backup --restore-as-of now host.net::/remote-dir/file local-dir/filerdiff-backup -r now host.net::/remote-dir/file local-dir/file rdiff-backup -r now host.net::/remote-dir/file local-dir/file rdiff-backup restore --at now host.net::/remote-dir/file local-dir/filerdiff-backup host.net::/remote-dir/file local-dir/file
-r for short) switch (
restore action on the new CLI) tells rdiff-backup to restore instead of back up, and the
now option indicates the current time.
But the main advantage of rdiff-backup is that it keeps version history.
This command restores
host.net::/remote-dir/file as it was 10 days ago into a new location
rdiff-backup -r 10D host.net::/remote-dir/file /tmp/file rdiff-backup restore --at 10D host.net::/remote-dir/file /tmp/file
Other acceptable time strings include
5m4s (5 minutes and 4 seconds) and
2002-03-05 (March 5th, 2002).
For more information, see the TIME FORMATS section of the manual page.
Finally, we can use rdiff-backup to restore directory from an increment file.
Increment files are stored in
host.net::/remote-dir/rdiff-backup-data/increments and hold the previous versions of changed files.
If you specify one directly:
rdiff-backup host.net::/remote-dir/rdiff-backup-data/increments/file.2003-03-05T12:21:41-07:00.diff.gz local-dir/file rdiff-backup restore host.net::/remote-dir/rdiff-backup-data/increments/file.2003-03-05T12:21:41-07:00.diff.gz local-dir/file
rdiff-backup will tell from the filename that it is an rdiff-backup increment file and thus enter restore mode.
Above the restored version is written to
Although rdiff-backup tries to save space by only storing file differences, eventually space may run out in the destination directory.
--remove-older-than mode can be used to delete older increments.
This section assumes that rdiff-backup has been used in the past to back up to
host.net::/remote-dir, but all commands would work locally too, if the hostname were omitted.
This commands deletes all information concerning file versions which have not been current for 2 weeks:
rdiff-backup --remove-older-than 2W host.net::/remote-dir rdiff-backup remove increments --older-than 2W host.net::/remote-dir
Note that an existing file which hasn’t changed for a year will still be preserved. But a file which was deleted 15 days ago cannot be restored after this command is run.
As when restoring, there are a variety of ways to specify the time.
20B below tells rdiff-backup to only preserve information from the last 20 rdiff-backup sessions.
nnB syntax is only available in versions after 0.13.1.)
rdiff-backup --remove-older-than 20B host.net::/remote-dir rdiff-backup remove increments --older-than 20B host.net::/remote-dir
Sometimes you don’t want to back up all files.
--exclude options can be used to select exactly which files to back up.
See the man page for a list of all the options and their definitions.
In this example we exclude
/mnt/backup to avoid an infinite loop.
rdiff-backup --exclude /mnt/backup / /mnt/backup rdiff-backup backup --exclude /mnt/backup / /mnt/backup
(Actually rdiff-backup can automatically detect simple loops like the one above.) This is just an example, in reality it would be important to exclude
/proc as well.
This example is more realistic.
We have excluded
/proc in particular should never be backed up.
Also, the source directory happens to be remote.
rdiff-backup --exclude /tmp --exclude /mnt --exclude /proc firstname.lastname@example.org::/ /backup/host.net rdiff-backup backup --exclude /tmp --exclude /mnt --exclude /proc email@example.com::/ /backup/host.net
Multiple include and exclude options take precedence in the order they are given.
The following command would back up
/usr/local/bin but not
rdiff-backup --include /usr/local --exclude /usr / host.net::/backup rdiff-backup backup --include /usr/local --exclude /usr / host.net::/backup
rdiff-backup uses rsync-like wildcards, where
** matches any path and
* matches any path without a
/ in it.
Thus this command:
rdiff-backup --include /usr/local --include /var --exclude '**' / /backup rdiff-backup backup --include /usr/local --include /var --exclude '**' / /backup
backs up only the
The single quotes
'' are not part of rdiff-backup and are only used because many shells will expand
Here is a more complicated example:
rdiff-backup --include '**txt' --exclude /usr/local/games --include /usr/local --exclude /usr --exclude /backup --exclude /proc / /backup rdiff-backup backup --include '**txt' --exclude /usr/local/games --include /usr/local --exclude /usr --exclude /backup --exclude /proc / /backup
The above command will back up any file ending in
/usr/local/games/pong/scores.txt because that include has highest precedence.
The contents of the directory
/usr/local/bin will get backed up, but not
rdiff-backup can also accept a list of files to be backed up.
If the file
include-list contains these two lines:
Then this command:
rdiff-backup --include-filelist include-list --exclude '**' / /backup rdiff-backup backup --include-filelist include-list --exclude '**' / /backup
would only back up the files
/usr/bin/gzip, but not
Note that this differs from the
--include option, since
--include /var would also match
The same file list can both include and exclude files.
If we create a file called
include-list that contains these lines:
**txt - /usr/local/games /usr/local - /usr - /backup - /proc
Then the following command will do exactly the same thing as the complicated example two above.
rdiff-backup --include-globbing-filelist include-list / /backup rdiff-backup backup --include-globbing-filelist include-list / /backup
Above we have used
--include-globbing-filelist instead of
--include-filelist so that the lines would be interpreted as if they were specified on the command line.
Otherwise, for instance,
**txt would be considered the name of a file, not a globbing string.
The following examples assume that you have run
rdiff-backup in-dir out-dir in the past.
This command finds all new or old files which contain the string
find out-dir -name '*frobniz*'
rdiff-backup doesn’t obscure the names of files at all, so often using traditional tools work well.
Either of these equivalent commands lists the times of the available versions of the file
It may be useful if you need to restore an older version of
in-dir/file but aren’t sure which one.
rdiff-backup --list-increments out-dir/filerdiff-backup -l out-dir/file rdiff-backup list increments out-dir/filerdiff-backup -l out-dir/file
The following command lists all the files under
out-dir/subdir which has changed in the last 5 days.
rdiff-backup --list-changed-since 5D out-dir/subdir rdiff-backup list files --changed-since 5D out-dir/subdir
This command lists all the files that were present in
out-dir/subdir 5 days ago.
This includes files that have not changed recently as well as those that have been deleted in the last 5 days.
rdiff-backup --list-at-time 5D out-dir/subdir rdiff-backup list files --at 5D out-dir/subdir
rdiff-backup writes one statistics file per session to the
An average of the files can be displayed using the
--calculate-average option and specifying the statistics files to use.
rdiff-backup --calculate-average out-dir/rdiff-backup-data/session_statistics* rdiff-backup calculate --method average out-dir/rdiff-backup-data/session_statistics*
If you are having problems connecting to a remote host, the
--test-server command may be useful.
This command simply verifies that there is a working rdiff-backup server on the remote side.
rdiff-backup --test-server hostname.net::/ignored rdiff-backup test hostname.net::/ignored