I have incremental rsync backups of a folder, created with:

rsync --delete -a -v --backup --backup-dir="../backup_`date +%Y-%m-%d`" /orig /backups/dest

so I have a copy of current /orig on /backups/dest and modified files on /backups/backup_YYYY_MM_DD/

my question is there's any easy way to restore the backup as it was on specific date?

2 Answers 2


As the various backup dirs only contain the changed files by the last current backup, the restore procedure is somewhat complex: you need to restore the current full backup and re-apply the various file-level backup, up to the required (past) date.

Can I suggest you a better backup method? Please use the --link-dest option combined with proper rotation.

Even better, give a look at rsnapshot and its doc


I think:

rsync -a --delete /backups/backup_YYYY__MM__DD/orig/ /orig/

should suffice.

Take care of the trailing slash at the end of the source directory pathname.


  • /backups/backup_YYYY_MM_DD/orig only contains the modified files since last backup
    – Lluís
    Jun 14, 2013 at 9:40
  • 1
    Oh I see. I made some more testing. I'm afraid you've got to re-apply all of the backups you made up the desired backup. Something along the lines : rsync -a ..../backup_n /orig then rsync -a ..../backup_n-1 /orig, ... You'd have been better using rsnapshot, probably.
    – phep
    Jun 14, 2013 at 9:57
  • I already had thought about restoring each backup folder, but rsync will not delete newly added files, so I could get a restored folder with files that were not at the original one. You are right, would be easier to restore an rsnapshot backup
    – Lluís
    Jun 14, 2013 at 10:08
  • finally did a rsync for each backup until date, then erased newer files with find -mtime
    – Lluís
    Jun 14, 2013 at 12:33
  • I'm afraid that doing so you also delete files that have just been modified after the "good" backup instead of reverting them to their previous "good" state.
    – phep
    Jun 14, 2013 at 12:49

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