Back In Time is a simple backup tool for Linux, inspired by "flyback project".

It provides a command line client 'backintime' and a Qt5 GUI 'backintime-qt' both written in Python3.

You only need to specify 3 things: where to save snapshots what folders to backup backup frequency (manual, every hour, every day, every month)

Programming language: Python
License: GNU General Public License v3.0 only
Tags: Backups     Archiving     Backup    
Latest version: v1.2.1

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Back In Time

Copyright (C) 2008-2022 Oprea Dan, Bart de Koning, Richard Bailey, Germar Reitze, Taylor Raack

It is an easy to use backup tool for Linux heavily using rsync in the back. It was inspired by FlyBack. It provides a command line tool backintime and a Qt5 GUI backintime-qt both written in Python3.

You only need to specify 3 things:

  • What folders to back up.
  • Where to save snapshots.
  • The backup frequency (manual, every hour, every day, every month).

Maintenance status

The development of this project has been dormant for a while. But a small team has started in summer 2022 to get things moving again. Stick with us, we all ♥️ Back In Time. 😁

We are currently trying to fix the major issues while not implementing new features to prepare a new stable release. The next release is planned in early 2023. If you are interested in the development, please see the Contribute section.


Documentation & FAQs


Please feel free to ask questions and report bugs in form of Issues

Known Problems and Workarounds

The latest release (1.3.2) and earlier versions of Back In Time are incompatible with rsync >= 3.2.4 (#1247). The problem is fixed in the current master branch of that repo and will be released with the next release (1.3.3) of Back In Time.

If you use rsync >= 3.2.4 and backintime <= 1.3.2 there is a workaround. Add --old-args in Expert Options / Additional options to rsync. Note that some GNU/Linux distributions (e.g. Manjaro) using a workaround with environment variable RSYNC_OLD_ARGS in their distro-specific packages for Back In Time. In that case you may not see any problems.

File permissions handling and therefore possible non-differential backups

In version 1.2.0, the handling of file permissions changed. In versions <= 1.1.24 (until 2017) all file permissions were set to -rw-r--r-- in the backup target. In versions >= 1.2.0 (since 2019) rsync is executed with --perms option which tells rsync to preserve the source file permission.

Therefore backups can be larger and slower, especially the first backup after upgrading to a version >= 1.2.0.

If you don't like the new behavior, you can use Expert Options -> Paste additional options to rsync to add --no-perms --no-group --no-owner to it. Note that the exact file permissions can still be found in fileinfo.bz2 and are also considered when restoring files.

Python 3.10 compatibility and Ubuntu version

Back In Time versions older than 1.3.2 do not start with Python >= 3.10. Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ships with Python 3.10 and backintime 1.2.1, but has applied a patch to make it work. If you want to update to backintime 1.3.2 in Ubuntu, you may use the PPA: see under INSTALL/Ubuntu PPA.

Non-working password safe and BiT forgets passwords (keyring backend issues)

Back in Time does only support selected "known-good" backends to set and query passwords from a user-session password safe by using the keyring library.

Enabling a supported keyring requires manual configuration of a configuration file until there is e.g. a settings GUI for this.

Symptoms are DEBUG log output (with the command line argument --debug) of keyring problems can be recognized by output like:

DEBUG: [common/tools.py:829 keyringSupported] No appropriate keyring found. 'keyring.backends...' can't be used with BackInTime
DEBUG: [common/tools.py:829 keyringSupported] No appropriate keyring found. 'keyring.backends.chainer' can't be used with BackInTime

To diagnose and solve this follow these steps in a terminal:

# Show default backend
python3 -c "import keyring.util.platform_; print(keyring.get_keyring().__module__)"

# List available backends:
keyring --list-backends 

# Find out the config file folder:
python3 -c "import keyring.util.platform_; print(keyring.util.platform_.config_root())"

# Create a config file named "keyringrc.cfg" in this folder with one of the available backends (listed above)

See also issue #1321

Warning: apt-key is deprecated. Manage keyring files in trusted.gpg.d instead (see apt-key(8)).

In newer Ubuntu-based distros you may get this warning if you manually install Back In Time as described in the Installation section here.

The reason is that public keys of signed packages shall be stored in a new folder now (for details see https://itsfoss.com/apt-key-deprecated/).

You can currently ignore this warning until we have found a reliable way to support all Ubuntu distros (older and newer ones).

This issue is tracked in #1338.

Tray icon or other icons not shown correctly

Missing installations of Qt5-supported themes and icons can cause this effect. Back In Time may activate the wrong theme in this case leading to some missing icons. A fix for the next release is in preparation.

As clean solution, please check your Linux settings (Appearance, Styles, Icons) and install all themes and icons packages for your preferred style via your package manager.

See issues #1306 and #1364.


Please find the latest versions in the release section.


Back In Time is included in many distributions. Use their repositories to install it.

From distribution packages

Ubuntu PPA

We provide a PPA (Private Package Archive) with current stable version (ppa:bit-team/stable) and a testing PPA (ppa:bit-team/testing)

Important: Until version 1.3.2 there was a bug that caused backintime failed to start if the package backintime-qt was not installed. As work-around also install backintime-qt because the missing Udev serviceHelper system D-Bus daemon is packaged there.

# You can ignore "Warning: apt-key is deprecated..." for now (see issue #1338)
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bit-team/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install backintime-qt


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bit-team/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install backintime-qt
Debian/Ubuntu make packages
sudo dpkg -i ../backintime-common-<version>.deb
sudo dpkg -i ../backintime-qt-<version>.deb

Back In Time is available through the AUR package backintime that also includes the GUI (backintime-qt).

Important: Until version 1.3.2 there was a bug that prevented the successful first-time installation due to a unit test failure when building with the PKGBUILD script (see #1233) and required to edit the PKGBUILD file for a successful installation (see description in #921).

# You need to import a public key once before installing
gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 615F366D944B4826
# Fingerprint: 3E70 692E E3DB 8BDD A599  1C90 615F 366D 944B 4826

wget https://aur.archlinux.org/cgit/aur.git/snapshot/backintime.tar.gz
tar xvzf backintime.tar.gz
cd backintime
makepkg -srci

An alternative way of installation clones the AUR package which has the advantage to use git pull instead of downloading backintime.tar.gz to be prepared to build an updated version of the package:

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/backintime.git
# Optional: Edit PKGBUILD to comment the `make test` line for the first-time installation of version 1.3.2 or less
cd backintime
makepkg -si

From sources

The dependencies are based on Ubuntu. Please open an Issue if something is missing. If you use another GNU/Linux distribution, please install the corresponding packages.

Common (command line tool)
  • Build dependencies

To build and install Back In Time from the source code install these packages (together with the run-time dependencies):

  • build-essential
  • gzip
  • gettext
  • python3-pyfakefs (since Ubuntu 22.04) or via python3 -m pip pyfakefs - required for a unit test

    • Runtime dependencies
    • python3 (>= 3.6)
    • rsync
    • cron-daemon
    • openssh-client
    • python3-keyring
    • python3-dbus
    • python3-packaging
    • Recommended
    • sshfs
    • encfs
    • Commands to build and install cd common ./configure make make test sudo make install
  • Build dependencies

See above...

  • Runtime dependencies

    • x11-utils
    • python3-pyqt5
    • python3-dbus.mainloop.pyqt5
    • qtwayland5 (if Wayland is used as display server instead of X11)
    • libnotify-bin
    • policykit-1
    • backintime-common (installed with sudo make install after building it)
  • Recommended

    • For SSH key storage one of these packages
      • python3-secretstorage
      • python3-keyring-kwallet
      • python3-gnomekeyring
    • For diff-like comparing files between backup snapshots one of these packages
      • kompare
      • meld
  • Commands to build and install

    cd qt
    sudo make install
Options for configure

You can use optional arguments to ./configure for creating a Makefile. See common/configure --help and qt/configure --help for details.



  • Mailing list bit-dev for development related topics
  • Source code documentation for developers
  • Translations are done on a separate plattform ### Guidelines & Rules The maintenance team will welcome all types of contributions. No contribution will be rejected just because it doesn't fit to our quality standards, guidelines or rules. Every contribution is reviewed and if needed will be improved together with the maintainers.

Please take the following best practices into account if possible (to reduce the work load of the maintainers):

  • Follow PEP8 as a minimal Style Guide for Python Code
  • Follow Google Style Guide for docstrings
  • Be careful when using automatic formatters like black and please mention the use of it when opening a Pull Request.
  • Run unittests before you open a Pull Request. You can run them via make-system with cd common && ./configure && make && make test or you can use pytest.
  • Try to create new unittests if appropriated. Use Pythons regular unittest instead of pytest.

November 2022