Using Aptik

Tony George
5 min readAug 11, 2019

Aptik is a tool that can save you countless hours when reinstalling your operating system. Many people have downloaded this app over the last few years without realising what it can do, and are often surprised when they discover it.

Given below are 3 use-cases that Aptik is best suited for.

Case 1: Move to the next release of your Linux distribution

If you avoid using the 6-monthly releases of Ubuntu (or any other Debian/Ubuntu-based distro) because of the hassle involved in setting up the system after installation, then Aptik provides a simple solution for this.

  1. Take a full backup with Aptik on the old system
  2. Format your system partition and do a clean install of the new version of Ubuntu
  3. Boot up the new system and do a full restore with Aptik

Everything will be restored to the way it was. If you were browsing a web page with Chrome (or any other web browser) before taking the backup, you will find the same page open in Chrome after doing the restore

All you need is one hour of time and a reasonably fast internet connection (for downloading and installing packages).

Aptik restores:

  • Your desktop layout, application settings, wallpapers, themes, etc.
  • Your home directory data along with everything in it — your SSH keys, application config files, documents, downloads, etc
  • Extra software repositories added by you
  • Extra packages installed by you, including Flatpak and Snap packages. It knows which packages were installed by you and which packages are part of the distribution.
  • User accounts, including login credentials and group memberships.
  • Extra cron jobs added by you (scheduled tasks and scripts)
  • Storage devices mounted to different directories using fstab/crypttab.

It doesn’t restore everything — otherwise there would be no point of re-installing your system.

Any customisations that you may have done to your system files (outside of your home directory, and apart from what is listed above) — is not included in the backups.

Case 2: Create a portable disk when travelling

Aptik is also useful when you need to create a copy of your system.

Consider a scenario where you are going on vacation and don’t wish to take your laptop with you. You can use Aptik to create a copy of your system on a portable hard disk or SSD.

  1. Take a full backup with Aptik on your laptop or PC
  2. Format the portable hard disk or SSD and install Ubuntu on it
  3. Boot up the new system and do a full restore with Aptik

This will give you a system that is same as the one from which you took the backup.

You can plug in your portable disk or SSD to any computer while you are on vacation, boot from it, and have a system that is same as the one that you use at home.

You can of course do all this manually by spending a few hours trying to remember how your system was setup and re-doing the customizations on the new system. But you are likely to forget things, and this is not something you will feel like doing unless you have the time for it. Aptik provides a simple GUI alternative.

Case 3: Re-do the same setup on multiple systems

You can restore the Aptik backups on any number of machines to recreate the same setup. Want to set up 100 systems with the same apps and desktop settings? Simply set up one machine, take a backup, and restore the backup on all other machines.

Some Limitations

  • Restore must be done on a freshly-installed system. If you run the restore on an old system, you will run into issues.
  • Backup and Restore must be done on similar distributions. Taking the backup on one distribution (say, Linux Mint) and restoring it on another distribution (say, elementary OS) will work, but may not give the best results. Packages often vary between different distributions. A package that is available on one distribution may not be available on another.
  • Backup and Restore must be done on systems with similar desktop. Taking the backup on a system with one desktop (say, Linux Mint with Cinnamon desktop) and restoring it on another system with another desktop (say, Linux Mint with XFCE desktop) will not give the best results. If the desktop is different you will lose the desktop layout. Aptik will not attempt to install the original desktop.
  • As mentioned previously, Aptik does not backup everything, especially the configuration files in system directories. You need to select any additional system files and directories that you want to backup.

Taking a backup with Aptik

  • Start Aptik
  • Connect a pen drive or external hard disk and select it as the backup location. The drive must be formatted with a Linux file system (like ext3/4, btrfs, etc). Don’t use a drive formatted with Windows file systems (like FAT or NTFS).
  • Select mode — Backup
  • Click the button — Backup All Sections
  • Click the button — Start Backup
  • Wait for backup to complete. This will take 5 to 20 minutes.

More Info

Aptik v19.07

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