Timeshift – Priceless when things go wrong


  • Introduction
  • What is Timeshift?
  • How to Use Time shift
  • How to install Timeshift


elementary has the capability for users to customize and tweak just about everything from the look and feel to back end system behaviors. Whether you are an advanced user or beginner the temptation is there and with it comes the risk of breaking your elementary installation. Imagine being able to return your machine back to the state before that break. You don’t have to imagine because Timeshift does just that.

What is Timeshift?

TimeShift is an intuitive system restore utility. You set it up once, forget about it but its priceless when you need it.

  • It provides functionality similar to the System Restore feature in Windows and the Time Machine tool in Mac OS.
  • By taking incremental snapshots of your system it is easy to restore your system to the exact state it was in at the time when the snapshot was taken.
  • Each system snapshot taken is synchronized with other common files so data is not duplicated avoiding taking up unnecessary disk space.

TimeShift is designed to protect only system files and user settings. ( hidden files/folders in your Home directory, the ones of which names begin with a dot ).
User files/folders such as Documents, Pictures and Music are excluded. This ensures that your personal files remain unchanged when you restore your system to an earlier date. Read more in the Timeshift FAQ.
If you need a tool to backup your documents and files please take a look at the excellent BackInTime application which is more configurable and provides options for saving user files.

How to use Timeshift

Snapshots can be restored either from the running system or from a live CD/USB. ( e.g. the one you used to install elementary OS. While running a live session Timeshift needs to be installed first ).
Restoring backups from the running system requires a reboot to complete the restore process.

TimeShift requires very little setup. Just install it, run it for the first time and take the first snapshot.
Snapshots are saved by default on the system (root) partition in path /timeshift, but you can also choose another linux partition or ( external ) disk.
Each snapshot is a full system backup that can be browsed with the file manager Files.

In the Settings schedules snapshots can be enabled, the number of snapshots that are kept can be set in the Autoremove tab and the Advanced tab provides a way to exclude or include files/folders.

The Restore window has settings for the target device and an Exclude tab where one can select for which applications the current settings should be saved and not restored from the snapshot ( see TimeShift v1.4 What’s New ).

How to Install Timeshift

Open the terminal [CTRL]-[ALT]-[T] and add the TimeShift PPA with this command:

sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:teejee2008/ppa

update the package lists using command:

sudo apt-get update

install TimeShift using following command:

sudo apt-get install timeshift















September 2023

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