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Déjà Dup is as simple a backup tool as you'll find on Linux

If you're looking for the easiest method of backing up folders and files on Linux, you cannot go wrong with Déjà Dup.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on
man working on laptop
Getty Images/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

If you're not backing up your most important data, you're inviting trouble into your life. 

We've all been there -- those moments when something goes awry with a computer and you have to sweat through the process of hoping you can get that machine running long enough to copy those crucial files and folders to an external drive, and salvage them before something goes catastrophically wrong. Or maybe you accidentally deleted a folder and have already emptied your trash? 

Also: How to set up your own NAS for more reliable data backups

Whatever the future holds, it's time you start depending on a solid backup strategy -- or that you at least start using a backup tool to keep your most important files safe from disaster.

Déjà Dup is a play on déjà vu and serves as the official backup tool for the GNOME desktop. The tool is also provided with a number of other Linux desktops (such as Budgie). Déjà Dup is so easy to use, anyone can set up a backup.

Let me show you just how easy it is.

How to create your first Déjà Dup backup

What you'll need: The only things you'll need for this are a running instance of Linux. If Déjà Dup isn't preinstalled on your desktop, you'll most likely find it available to install from your app store. 

Also: How to store your old smartphones and tablets until you need them

You'll also need either an external drive attached to your computer to house the backups or have your computer connected to your cloud service of choice. For this, Déjà Dup supports Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. 

Déjà Dup should be found in most Linux app stores.

Installing Déjà Dup from within GNOME Software.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

That's it. Now, let's get to the backup.

1. Attach your external drive

If you haven't already attached an external drive to your desktop (or laptop), do so now. Once the drive is detected, make sure you can access it via your desktop file manager.

2. Open Déjà Dup

The trick for opening Déjà Dup is that it might be named Backupsl in your menu. So, either search for Déjà Dup (you can also spell it deja dup in the menu search) or backups

Also: How to install Ubuntu Linux (It's easy!)

In Ubuntu Budgie, it's listed as Backups. If I search for Déjà Dup in the Ubuntu Budgie menu, it comes up empty. If you don't find Déjà Dup in your menu, open your desktop app store and install it from there.

3. Create your first backup

When you first open Déjà Dup, you'll see two buttons: Create Your First Backup, and Restore From a Previous Backup. Click Create Your First Backup.

The Déjà Dup main window.

From this simple window, you can either create a new backup or restore from a previously existing Déjà Dup backup.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Select the folder(s) to be backed up

In the resulting popup, click + under Folders to Back Up and, from the picker, select the folder you want to back up. You can add as many folders to the backup as you need. Once you've made your choice, click Forward. 

One thing to keep in mind is that you might not want to back up your entire home directory (which is included by default). 

Also: How to organize your Google Drive: 5 tips to know

The good thing about backing up your entire home directory is that if you had to re-install the operating system, you could restore from that backup and have all of your data and user app configurations back fairly quickly. The only downside is that you'll need more space on the external drive and the initial backup will take more time.

The back up folder list in Déjà Dup.

Selecting the folder(s) to be backed up by Déjà Dup.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET
The backup location selector.

You can select a locally attached drive, a network drive, or a cloud account.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

6. Set an optional password for the backup

You can now set an optional password for your backup. This can be important, especially if you're backing up to a network drive or cloud account that is accessible by other people. When prompted, type and confirm your password and click Forward. If you don't need to password protect the backup, move the On/Off slider until it's in the Off position.

The optional password protection window.

To password protect or not to password protect.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

At this point, the backup will begin and complete. Once it finishes, you can then enable the backup to happen automatically. The one caveat is that you cannot determine the frequency of the backup. 

Also: The best external hard drives you can buy

By default, Déjà Dup backs up every three days. You can, should you need, run a manual backup at any time by opening Déjà Dup and clicking Back Up Now. The backup you've configured will run and you're good to go.

The Déjà Dup manual backup button.

Your backup is complete and will happen again in 3 days.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that's how easy it is to back up your folders on the Linux desktop. It doesn't get much easier than this.

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