2019-01-07 22:12:34 +01:00

3.4 KiB

Automatic restic backups using systemd services and timers


restic is a command-line tool for making backups, the right way. Check the official website for a feature explanation. As a storage backend, I recommend Backblaze B2 as restic works well with it, and it is (at the time of writing) very affordable for the hobbyist hacker!

Unfortunately restic does not come pre-configured with a way to run automated backups, say every day. However it's possible to set this up yourself using systemd/cron and some wrappers. This example also features email notifications when a backup fails to complete.

Here follows a step-by step tutorial on how to set it up, with my sample script and configurations that you can modify to suit your needs.

Note, you can use any of the supported storage backends. The setup should be similar but you will have to use other configuration variables to match your backend of choice.

Set up

Tip: The steps in this section will instruct you to copy files from this repo to system directories. If you don't want to do this manually, you can use the Makefile:

$ git clone
$ cd restic-systemd-automatic-backup
$ sudo make install

1. Configure the Backup

First edit the following Files as you like

  • restic-backup.service
    • Add your Username
  • restic-check.service
    • Add your Username
  • pw.txt
    • password for your Backup

After that you can copy all files to the right directories with the Makefile in this Repository

$ sudo make install

2. Initialize your Backup

See for how to do this

3. Make first backup & verify

Now see if the backup itself works, by running

$ /usr/local/sbin/
$ restic snapshots

4. Backup automatically; systemd service + timer

Now we can do the modern version of a cron-job, a systemd service + timer, to run the backup every week!

Now simply enable the timer with:

$ systemctl start restic-backup.timer
$ systemctl enable restic-backup.timer

You can see when your next backup is scheduled to run with

$ systemctl list-timers | grep restic

and see the status of a currently running backup with

$ systemctl status restic-backup

or start a backup manually

$ systemctl start restic-backup

You can follow the backup stdout output live as backup is running with:

$ journalctl -f -u restic-backup.service

(skip -f to see all backups that has run)

5. Optional: automated backup checks

Once in a while it can be good to do a health check of the remote repository, to make sure it's not getting corrupt. This can be done with $ restic check.

There are some *-check*-files in this git repo. Install these in the same way you installed the *-backup*-files.


If you want to run an all-classic cron job instead, do like this:

  • etc/cron.d/restic: Depending on your system's cron, put this in /etc/cron.d/ or similar, or copy the contents to $(sudo crontab -e). The format of this file is tested under FreeBSD, and might need adaptions depending on your cron.
  • usr/local/sbin/cron_mail: A wrapper for running cron jobs, that sends output of the job as an email using the mail(1) command.