The stability and reliability of this package is questionable. As of 6/14/2011 there were 48 open bugs and little sign of development. A second bug reporting site shows signs of development.

This guide is part of the BackupYourSystem Page. It is separate for the sake of organization.


As discussed previously in this article's parent introduction, data can be lost in innumerable ways. In order to stave off such loss, it's important to have a good backup strategy. Simple Backup Suite (sbackup hereafter) can be part of such an effort.

Sbackup is a basic GUI backup program designed for desktop use, with a full set of features. It can backup any subset of files and directories, while obeying exclusion rules and limits on individual file sizes backed up. Backups may be saved to any local and remote directories that are supported by gnome-vfs.

As noted previously, sbackup uses compressed archives so it is not the best backup solution if you are primarily backing up large amounts of multimedia. These data types are already compressed during encoding. Making archives including such files will spend lots of time compressing these files with gzip with little to no space being saved.


To install sbackup ensure Universe section of the Ubuntu repositories is enabled in your Software Sources. Then install the following package: sbackup.

Once you have completed the installation you can access sbackup from the following menus System -> Administration -> Simple Backup Config. Enter your password when prompted, this program requires Sudo privileges because it backs up files owned by the root in the / directory.

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Backing Up Your Data

General Tab

Upon start up, you will be confronted with the default welcome screen, the General tab. It lists the three main operating modes described below.

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Recommended Backup
If you are new Ubuntu user or are not sure what you should backup. This will perform a daily backup of your /home, as well as system data held in /etc, /usr/local and /var. This will deliberately exclude any files over 100MB as well as common multimedia file types. By default the archive created will be stored in /var/backup.

Custom Backup
This selection allows you to customize a profile and modify all options such as the include and exclusion rules, the scheduling time and where the backup will be made. The backup will proceed according to the settings on the tabs other than General.

Manual Backup
If you want to manually control when the backups are performed choose this option. To start the operation click the Backup Now! button at the bottom of the window. The backup will the proceed according to the settings on the other backup properties tabs. With this option you will be able to specify where to save the backup file.

From this point onward, it will be assumed that you have selected either Use custom backup or Manual backups only. If you chose recommended backup, the settings on the following pages will have no effect.

Include Tab

This tab is used to create rules for what directories and files will be included in the backup. Use the Add File and Add Direcory buttons to add individual files and whole directories to the backup. Both buttons bring you to a standard explorer popup. To remove an entry listed in the main pane, simply highlight the entry to delete and push Remove.

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Exclude Tab

The next tab is Exclude. This tab is used to define exclusion rules according to different properties. There are four different ways to create these rules.

  • Paths - Files and Folders can be excluded in the same manner as they were included in the previous tab.

  • File types - Allows a user to exclude files based on the type, say for instance all .mp3 or .avi files the backup may find in the included directories.

  • Regex - Allows a user to define rules based on regular expression, this option is for advanced users.

  • Max size - As you may think, defines rules to exclude files based on a maximum file size. If set at 100Mb for instance, it will exclude all files greater than the limit.


Destination Tab

By default the archive will be created in /var/backup If you want to change the backup location you can select Use custom local backup directory and enter any location local to the machine. To backup over the network, use the Use a remote directory option and fill in the parameters. A more complete explanation of network backup can be found further in this article.

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Time Tab

This tab is used to schedule when you want to run your backup.

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Available options for when to Do backups are shown in the following screen: never, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and custom options. The first five are straightforward, while the last allows for the creation of a cron definition (for advanced users). To the right of this drop down menu, you will find the options simply and precisely at, they are explained below.

  • Simply - Will make the backup when the computer is found available after the desired time has passed. "Precisely" would not make a backup if your computer is not turned on at the precise time, it would wait for the next scheduled time.

  • Precisely - Will allow you to choose a specific date to perform the backup, say perhaps 6:15 AM daily. This can be configured with the Day of month, Day of week, Hour and Minute depending on what interval is selected in Do backups.

  • Custom cron time definition - This option is for advanced users, select custom from Do backups drop down and you will be able to create a cron job here.

  • Do a full backup at least once every - Sbackup does NOT create a new backup file each time it runs. Instead, it creates an incremental backup, that is to say only new files modified since the last backup (full or incremental) are archived. Incremental backups therefore are tied directly to the last full back through incremental steps, like a series of patches to an OS applied one after the other. This option allows you to tell sbackup how often to create a new full archive, by default it is set to 21 days. Full backups take more space then incremental, so if you decrease the interval ensure you have the space on your backup location.


Purging Tab

Here you can set how old archives should be handled after a certain time. The options are self explanatory and should be set according to your needs and available space on hard drive.

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Once all the options have been set as desired, push the Save button at the bottom to preserve your settings. You must save before performing a backup manual or scheduled or else your new settings won't take effect. Now if you want to make a backup just click on Backup Now! or wait for it to be performed on schedule if set. After starting the backup, the following confirmation will be displayed listing the background process ID.

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Restore Your Data

If you want to restore backups or any files or folders go to System —> Administration —> Simple Backup Restore, as shown in the following screen.

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

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In this example, I have chosen to restore a single .iso file. After selection, simply push the Restore button and confirm your action when prompted. The file will then be restored to its original location. If you want to restore it to a different location select the Restore As... option.

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Note: By default, restored files and directories are owned by root. This is because sbackup runs with root privileges. To change the permissions of files or folders you should own, either use chmod from a terminal or just right click and select properties of the file or folder. For additional information see FilePermissions.

Backup Destination on Remote Machine

One more nice feature of sbackup is that you can store your backup on a remote machine, either using SSH or FTP. For this go to System —> Administration —> Simple Backup Config. Under the Destination tab, you can select to Use a remote Directory. In the box, type ssh:// or ftp:// followed by the username:password, then @, then the remote host to connect to and the remote directory. Test button can be used to ensure the host is reachable.

If you do not want to expose your password in the clear you can use SSH keys. For more information see its respective page, a short example follows below. Comments have been added (#) above each step:

# switch to root
sudo su -
# create a key set without a passphrase
# copy the public key to the backup server
ssh-copy-id backup-user@backup-server/path/to/backups/machine-id/
# test that the connection will work without a password
ssh backup-user@backup-server
# make sure that the backup user can in fact write to the backup directory
touch /path/to/backups/machine-id/test.txt
rm /path/to/backups/machine-id/test.txt
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Sbackup from the Command Line


If you want to configure sbackup from a terminal you need to edit the /etc/sbackup.conf file. The following command for example will do:

sudo nano /etc/sbackup.conf 

Restore Backup from the Command Line

To restore a particular backup from a terminal, use a command along the following lines.

sudo /var/backup/2006-11-18_03 /home/myuser /home/myuser/old

In this example, will use the backup /var/backup/2006-11-18_03 and restore the backup of the the directory /home/myuser to the current directory /home/myuser/old. Your command will of course need to be tailored to your needs.

Automatically Backup at Shutdown

In case you want to shutdown your workstation when you're done and not have to backup manually every now-and-then, you might find it useful to have simple-backup being run every time you log off. To enable this, you need to do only a few things:

  1. Save this page sbackupd to /etc/init.d/

  2. Set file ownership to root:root and file permissions to: rwx-r-xr-x. See FilePermissions for help.

  3. Execute the following from a terminal:

    sudo update-rc.d sbackupd start 00 0 1 6 .

    This will run the downloaded script every time Ubuntu comes into single-user-mode, shutdown or reboot. Since the script will only run sbackupd, this effectively gives you a backup every time you shutdown or reboot your machine.

I find it useful to use both a schedule and this 'at-shutdown' script because i get a backup at least once a day, and i needn't care about keeping my machine powered on.

This scheduled backup at shutdown can be removed with the following command:

sudo update-rc.d -f sbackupd remove

CategoryBackupRecovery CategoryInstallation CategoryInstallation

BackupYourSystem/SimpleBackupSuite (last edited 2011-06-15 00:13:27 by joe-britton)