Trying to create an experience as simple as the 'Time Machine' functionality for my RPi3 running Stretch.

I'd like to have a few options if possible.

  1. Creating a backup to a sufficient capacity disk with incremental changes, as they are made in the system.
  2. Possibly do this to a remote location on a NAS, or remote network location.
  3. Have all this create an IMG file I can use later to restore the SD card if recovery is needed.
  4. Being able to maintain backups of machine while it's running

The primary goal is simplicity and successful functionality.

I understand that system files will be changing all the time, and a lot, and it wouldn't be practical to be overwhelming the backup system to maintain these changes, so is there a practical way to maintain easy accessible backup of everything else?

I guess i am looking for successful backup stories to hopefully determine whats easiest and most worry free for my setup.

"Essentially I'd like to be able to custom config a system the way I like, then from there (or even while developing the better) create a backup that would be 'no-brainer' simple to recover if needed."

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  • Since you mentioned "Time Machine functionality" and "no-brainer", the only thing I'd add to @goldilocks reference is that once you decide whether or not to take the dd route or the faster incremental (non-dd), you can put your instruction(s) into your crontab to backup on a schedule.
    – Seamus
    May 8, 2018 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


I use rsnapshot for incremental backups. It's extremely lightweight and can be controlled via the conf file and run using cron on a user controlled basis.

Here is a "How-to" post for the pi.

As far as imaging goes, have you thought of running a "dd" task in your crontab to set up something? I prefer to simply use rsnapshot to backup: /home /etc /var/www

Everything else can be reinstalled with a fresh image imho.

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    An even better guide for rsnapshot: pontikis.net/blog/howto-rsnapshot-backup
    – Ron K.
    May 8, 2018 at 13:47
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    The maintainer (and original author?) of rsnapshot apparently switched to BorgBackup: github.com/borgbackup/borg ...Although he does say there continuing to use rsnapshot should be fine.
    – goldilocks
    May 8, 2018 at 13:57
  • I'm glad I asked, as this is a solution I've not heard of yet. Will be checking this out as soon as time allows. Thanks Ron
    – mrSidX
    May 8, 2018 at 18:26
  • So as to my lack of reputation points on Super User, I ask you guys: Does a backup of /home /etc /var/www cover most of the configurations you might encounter during a custom setup? What would be an instance where I'd want to include some other directories?
    – mrSidX
    May 8, 2018 at 23:42
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    Belt and Susupenders. I regularly use dd to image the sdcard to an external storage source (twice a year) and fill the gap with rsnapshot for the data I really don't want to lose. Typically you will be doing a dist-upgrade at some point over a year. Jessie to Stretch...
    – Ron K.
    May 9, 2018 at 11:42

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