How to Install Timeshift on Ubuntu 22.04 | 20.04

TimeShift is an incredibly powerful tool that ensures the safety and stability of your computer system by taking incremental snapshots of your file system at regular intervals. These snapshots can be restored at a later date to undo all changes to the system. As an application, TimeShift primarily focuses on providing functionality akin to the “System Restore” feature found in Windows or the “Time Machine” utility in MacOS. However, TimeShift brings this functionality to Linux, and does so with some unique features that set it apart.

  • Incremental Snapshots: TimeShift doesn’t create a full backup of your system each time it runs. Instead, it creates incremental snapshots that save changes to your file system after the last snapshot. This is an efficient method that saves both time and disk space.
  • Schedule Flexibility: TimeShift allows you to customize the frequency of your snapshots, enabling you to choose between hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly snapshots, depending on your needs and system usage.
  • Support for Multiple File System Types: TimeShift supports BTRFS and RSYNC, giving you the flexibility to use the file system that best suits your needs.
  • System Files Focus: TimeShift concentrates on system files, leaving your personal files untouched. This way, your system configurations can be restored without affecting your personal data.
  • Easy Restoration: With TimeShift, restoring your system to a previous state is as simple as selecting a snapshot and clicking the restore button. You can even restore snapshots when the system has failed to boot.
  • User-friendly Interface: TimeShift comes with a clean, intuitive interface, making it accessible to users of all experience levels.

The following guide will now demonstrate how to install TimeShift on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa using CLI commands with the default Ubuntu repository version or a well-known PPA that contains and maintains the latest version of TimeShift with improvements and bug fixes.

Section 1: Install TimeShift

Step 1: Refreshing and Upgrading Your Ubuntu System

It’s wise to kick-start any software installation process by ensuring your system is up-to-date. This step primarily serves two purposes:

  1. Compatibility: Updated systems tend to be more compatible with the latest software versions, reducing the possibility of failed installations or operational issues post-installation.
  2. Security: Keeping your system updated helps to patch any known vulnerabilities in the software you have installed, contributing to a more secure system.

To update your Ubuntu system, open your Terminal and input the following command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

This command performs two actions: sudo apt update refreshes your local software repositories, ensuring your system is aware of the latest software versions. Following this, sudo apt upgrade updates all the installed packages on your system to their latest versions.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Installation Path

When it comes to installing TimeShift, you have two main avenues to explore. You can either install it directly from the official Ubuntu repositories or via a PPA (Personal Package Archive) maintained by Tony George, the developer of TimeShift. Let’s explore both methods.

Option 1: Installing TimeShift via Ubuntu Repository

The Ubuntu Repository is a vast pool of officially supported software that’s readily available for installation on any Ubuntu system. TimeShift is part of this repository, which simplifies the installation process.

To install TimeShift from Ubuntu’s repository, input the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt install timeshift

Option 2: Installing TimeShift via the Developer’s PPA

The alternative method of installing TimeShift involves using a PPA. This method is particularly useful for users who wish to leverage the latest stable release of TimeShift.

To incorporate the PPA into your system’s software sources, use the following command:

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

This command adds the teejee2008/timeshift PPA to your system’s list of software sources. The -y flag automatically confirms the addition of the PPA, saving you from an extra step.

After adding the PPA, you’ll need to update your system’s software sources again. This ensures that the system recognizes the newly added PPA. To do this, use the following command:

sudo apt update

With the PPA added and recognized, you can proceed to install TimeShift. Use the following command:

sudo apt install timeshift

This command is identical to the one used in the Ubuntu repository method. However, due to the updated software sources, apt will fetch the latest version of TimeShift from the developer’s PPA.

Section 2: Initiating TimeShift Post-Installation

Step 1: Launching TimeShift via Command Line Interface (CLI)

For those who enjoy the precision and speed of using the terminal, launching TimeShift via CLI is an intuitive step. This method is direct and allows you to quickly access TimeShift without navigating through various menus. The CLI method is particularly useful for remote sessions or for advanced users who prefer terminal usage.

To initiate TimeShift via CLI, simply type timeshift into the terminal and hit enter:


This command launches the TimeShift application. Once it’s running, you can navigate through its functions using the terminal interface.

Step 2: Launching TimeShift via Graphical User Interface (GUI)

The GUI method of launching TimeShift offers a more visually interactive way to navigate. This method is often more intuitive for users who prefer a graphical layout over textual commands, especially those new to Ubuntu or those who value visual interaction.

Post-installation, TimeShift is readily available in your system’s list of applications. To access TimeShift via GUI, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Activities option, typically located at the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Next, click on Show Applications, usually represented by a grid of dots at the bottom of the sidebar that appears.
  3. In the applications list, search for TimeShift.

Once you’ve located TimeShift in the applications list, click on it to launch the application. The TimeShift window should open, offering a visual platform from which you can manage your backup and restoration processes.

Example of TimeShift application icon on Ubuntu Linux:

Section 3: Generating Snapshots Using TimeShift

Step 1: Understanding Snapshots

In the realm of data backup and recovery, a snapshot refers to a copy of your system at a specific point in time. Think of it as a ‘time-stamped’ image of your system. With TimeShift, creating such snapshots is a breeze. It allows you to capture the current state of your system and revert to it if needed – a powerful tool when tackling system errors or data loss.

Step 2: Launching the Snapshot Wizard

After you’ve successfully installed and launched TimeShift, it’s time to create your first snapshot. Whether you’re using the CLI or GUI method to interact with TimeShift, you’ll be able to initiate the snapshot process. For GUI users, on the TimeShift window, you’ll find the option to Create a new snapshot.

Step 3: Configuring Your Snapshot

Before creating a snapshot, you must specify your preferences. This includes choosing the snapshot type (RSYNC or BTRFS), the location to save the snapshot, and the levels of system data to include in the snapshot. TimeShift is versatile and caters to both beginners and advanced users with its range of configurable options.

For instance, you can choose to include all system files, only the files of the root user, or even specific files based on your needs. Remember, the more files you include, the larger the snapshot will be, so ensure you have sufficient storage space in your chosen location.

Step 4: Generating Your Snapshot

Once you’re satisfied with your snapshot configurations, it’s time to create the snapshot. Click on the Create button and TimeShift will start the snapshot process. Depending on the size of the files being backed up, this may take some time. Once the process is completed, you’ll have a snapshot of your system ready for use if the need arises.

Step 5: Managing Your Snapshots

TimeShift provides a straightforward interface for managing your snapshots. You can view the details of each snapshot, delete old snapshots, and restore your system to any previous snapshots. Remember to manage your snapshots effectively to ensure optimal usage of your storage resources.

Section 4: Familiarizing with Basic TimeShift CLI Commands

When administering your system or operating TimeShift, the command line interface (CLI) is a valuable tool that offers more direct control over your processes. This section will introduce you to some basic TimeShift CLI commands.

Checking TimeShift Status

The --status command provides a quick overview of TimeShift’s current status. It also gives essential details about your existing snapshots and configurations. To use it, open your terminal (you can do this by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or searching for “Terminal” in your system’s application menu), then enter the following command:

sudo timeshift --status

The output should provide information about your current TimeShift status.

Creating a Snapshot with TimeShift CLI

Creating a new snapshot is a breeze with the --create command. This command initiates the snapshot creation process using your existing TimeShift settings. To create a snapshot, type the following command into your terminal:

sudo timeshift --create

This will create a new snapshot of your system’s current state.

Restoring a Snapshot with TimeShift CLI

Restoring a snapshot is just as straightforward with the --restore command. You must specify the snapshot tag you want to restore. Here’s how to use the command:

sudo timeshift --restore --snapshot-tag <tag>

Remember to replace <tag> with the specific tag of the snapshot you want to restore.

Deleting a Snapshot with TimeShift CLI

If you want to delete a specific snapshot, you can use the --delete command followed by the specific snapshot tag. Here is the command to delete a snapshot:

sudo timeshift --delete --snapshot-tag <tag>

Again, replace <tag> with the tag of the snapshot you wish to delete.

Section 5: Additional TimeShift Commands for Ubuntu Linux

In this section, we will explore some additional commands that are useful when working with TimeShift on an Ubuntu Linux system. These commands will help you keep your TimeShift application updated and show you how to uninstall it if necessary.

Keeping TimeShift Updated

Keeping your software up-to-date is a crucial part of maintaining system security and functionality. As TimeShift was installed using the APT package manager, the process to update it is pretty straightforward. The APT package manager will check for updates for all installed packages, including TimeShift.

To check for updates and apply them, you can run the following command in the terminal:

Given APT package manager was the method to install both options, simply run the following command that will blanket check all your packages for updates including TimeShift:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

This command first updates the list of available packages and their versions (sudo apt update), then upgrades any installed packages that have newer versions available (sudo apt upgrade).

Uninstalling TimeShift

There might be circumstances where you no longer need TimeShift on your system. In such a case, you can easily uninstall it.

If you’ve installed TimeShift from the Ubuntu repository or the TimeShift PPA, you can use the following command to uninstall it:

sudo apt remove timeshift

This command will remove TimeShift and all its data and dependencies from your system.

If you have installed TimeShift using the PPA method and wish to also remove the PPA from your system, you can do so with this command:

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

Closing Thoughts on Installing TimeShift on Ubuntu Linux

To recap, we’ve embarked on an insightful journey to understand and utilize TimeShift on Ubuntu Linux. We have successfully installed TimeShift using two different methods – the Ubuntu Repository and the PPA from Tony George, the former TimeShift developer but is now maintained by the Linux Mint team. We have also learned how to create backups called snapshots and how to manage them effectively. Furthermore, we have familiarized ourselves with some of TimeShift’s basic command-line operations, including updating and uninstalling the software. TimeShift’s versatility and comprehensive features undoubtedly make it an invaluable system backup and recovery tool.

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