Restoring from backup

Restoring from a snapshot

Restoring a snapshot is as easy as it sounds, just use the following command to restore the contents of the latest snapshot to /tmp/restore-work:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo restore 79766175 --target /tmp/restore-work
enter password for repository:
restoring <Snapshot of [/home/user/work] at 2015-05-08 21:40:19.884408621 +0200 CEST> to /tmp/restore-work

Use the word latest to restore the last backup. You can also combine latest with the --host and --path filters to choose the last backup for a specific host, path or both.

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo restore latest --target /tmp/restore-art --path "/home/art" --host luigi
enter password for repository:
restoring <Snapshot of [/home/art] at 2015-05-08 21:45:17.884408621 +0200 CEST> to /tmp/restore-art

Use --exclude and --include to restrict the restore to a subset of files in the snapshot. For example, to restore a single file:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo restore 79766175 --target /tmp/restore-work --include /work/foo
enter password for repository:
restoring <Snapshot of [/home/user/work] at 2015-05-08 21:40:19.884408621 +0200 CEST> to /tmp/restore-work

This will restore the file foo to /tmp/restore-work/work/foo.

To only restore a specific subfolder, you can use the <snapshot>:<subfolder> syntax, where snapshot is the ID of a snapshot (or the string latest) and subfolder is a path within the snapshot.

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo restore 79766175:/work --target /tmp/restore-work --include /foo
enter password for repository:
restoring <Snapshot of [/home/user/work] at 2015-05-08 21:40:19.884408621 +0200 CEST> to /tmp/restore-work

This will restore the file foo to /tmp/restore-work/foo.

You can use the command restic ls latest or restic find foo to find the path to the file within the snapshot. This path you can then pass to --include in verbatim to only restore the single file or directory.

There are case insensitive variants of --exclude and --include called --iexclude and --iinclude. These options will behave the same way but ignore the casing of paths.

Restoring symbolic links on windows is only possible when the user has SeCreateSymbolicLinkPrivilege privilege or is running as admin. This is a restriction of windows not restic.

By default, restic does not restore files as sparse. Use restore --sparse to enable the creation of sparse files if supported by the filesystem. Then restic will restore long runs of zero bytes as holes in the corresponding files. Reading from a hole returns the original zero bytes, but it does not consume disk space. Note that the exact location of the holes can differ from those in the original file, as their location is determined while restoring and is not stored explicitly.

Restore using mount

Browsing your backup as a regular file system is also very easy. First, create a mount point such as /mnt/restic and then use the following command to serve the repository with FUSE:

$ mkdir /mnt/restic
$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo mount /mnt/restic
enter password for repository:
Now serving /srv/restic-repo at /mnt/restic
Use another terminal or tool to browse the contents of this folder.
When finished, quit with Ctrl-c here or umount the mountpoint.

Mounting repositories via FUSE is only possible on Linux, macOS and FreeBSD. On Linux, the fuse kernel module needs to be loaded and the fusermount command needs to be in the PATH. On macOS, you need FUSE for macOS. On FreeBSD, you may need to install FUSE and load the kernel module (kldload fuse).

Restic supports storage and preservation of hard links. However, since hard links exist in the scope of a filesystem by definition, restoring hard links from a fuse mount should be done by a program that preserves hard links. A program that does so is rsync, used with the option --hard-links.


restic mount is mostly useful if you want to restore just a few files out of a snapshot, or to check which files are contained in a snapshot. To restore many files or a whole snapshot, restic restore is the best alternative, often it is significantly faster.

Printing files to stdout

Sometimes it’s helpful to print files to stdout so that other programs can read the data directly. This can be achieved by using the dump command, like this:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo dump latest production.sql | mysql

If you have saved multiple different things into the same repo, the latest snapshot may not be the right one. For example, consider the following snapshots in a repository:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo snapshots
ID        Date                 Host        Tags        Directory
562bfc5e  2018-07-14 20:18:01  mopped                  /home/user/file1
bbacb625  2018-07-14 20:18:07  mopped                  /home/other/work
e922c858  2018-07-14 20:18:10  mopped                  /home/other/work
098db9d5  2018-07-14 20:18:13  mopped                  /production.sql
b62f46ec  2018-07-14 20:18:16  mopped                  /home/user/file1
1541acae  2018-07-14 20:18:18  mopped                  /home/other/work

Here, restic would resolve latest to the snapshot 1541acae, which does not contain the file we’d like to print at all (production.sql). In this case, you can pass restic the snapshot ID of the snapshot you like to restore:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo dump 098db9d5 production.sql | mysql

Or you can pass restic a path that should be used for selecting the latest snapshot. The path must match the patch printed in the “Directory” column, e.g.:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo dump --path /production.sql latest production.sql | mysql

It is also possible to dump the contents of a whole folder structure to stdout. To retain the information about the files and folders Restic will output the contents in the tar (default) or zip format:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo dump latest /home/other/work > restore.tar
$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo dump -a zip latest /home/other/work >

The folder content is then contained at /home/other/work within the archive. To include the folder content at the root of the archive, you can use the <snapshot>:<subfolder> syntax:

$ restic -r /srv/restic-repo dump latest:/home/other/work / > restore.tar

It is also possible to dump the contents of a selected snapshot and folder structure to a file using the --target flag.