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Duplicity does already a great job of making efficient backups, but I want still to minimize the amount of files being back-upped.

What files or directories can be excluded in a home directory? Please name these explicitly, wildcards allowed, paths are relative to the home directory.

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Great question! I find it useful to analyze my home directory (the one I back up) using Disk Usage Analyzer and make sure to ignore anything that shows up in the top and which I don't mind losing in case of data loss. For instance, I'm not interested in backing up my src directory containing local copies of source code available online. –  joelpet Jan 12 '14 at 17:58

3 Answers 3

Most of these files and directories are recreated if missing. It lowers the startup time of an application (Firefox extensions cache), is used to indicate locks (.gksu.lock), contains session-specific information (e.g. ID of dbus session). Recent documents changes frequently and is generally not that sensible to backup.

These directories may be excluded:

.gvfs                           # contains mounted file systems?
.Private                        # contains the actual encrypted home directory
.dbus                           # session-specific
.Trash                          # do I need to say more?
.cddb                           # cached info about audio CDs
.aptitude                       # cached packages lists


.adobe                          # Cache for flash, maybe others?
.macromedia   # except for Flash persistence, there is no reason to keep this


.xsession-errors            # contains errors from the current graphical session
.recently-used              # recently used files
.Xauthority                 # session-specific
.pulse  # directory

KDE specific:

.kde/share/apps/RecentDocuments # Recent documents on KDE
.kde/share/apps/klipper         # Contains a history of the Klipper clipboard (KDE)
.kde/share/apps/okular/docdata  # you will loose saved scrolling positions of PDFs
.kde/share/apps/kmess/displaypics  # cached other users' profile pics
.kde/share/apps/kmess/customemoticons  # cached emoticons of others

Firefox-specific (see also Profile folder):

.mozilla/firefox/*/minidumps    # in case Fx crashes dumps will be stored in this
.mozilla/firefox/*/.parentlock       # session-specific           
.mozilla/firefox/*/urlclassifier3.sqlite  # phishing database, recreated
.mozilla/firefox/*/blocklist.xml   # blacklisted extensions
.mozilla/firefox/*/extensions.sqlite  # extension database, recreated on startup
.mozilla/firefox/*/XUL.mfasl     # cached UI data, recreated

Opera-specific (related question on Is documentation available on files and directories in the Opera profile folder?):


Komodo Edit:

.komodoedit/*/XRE/.activatestate/komodo edit/Crash Reports
.komodoedit/*/XRE/.activatestate/komodo edit/*/Cache
.komodoedit/*/XRE/.activatestate/komodo edit/*/minidump



Google Chrome:

.config/google-chrome/Default/Local Storage
.config/google-chrome/Default/Session Storage
.config/google-chrome/Default/Application Cache
.config/google-chrome/Default/History Index *

Other apps:

.pulse/icons                  # Pidgin
.java/deployment/cache        # Cached applets
.dropbox                      # to avoid problems, let Dropbox re-create these
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awesome answer! –  MountainX Dec 5 '11 at 4:05
@rubo77 This gist does not work anymore. –  justfortherec Jul 19 at 22:28
Strange, the raw link doesn't work, when you call it directly, but it works with the shortener: You can download the ignorelist from my gist with wget -O /var/tmp/ignorelist Then start the rsync with rsync -a --progress --exclude-from=/var/tmp/ignorelist /home/$USER/ /media/$USER/linuxbackup/home/ see –  rubo77 Jul 19 at 22:50
HEAD and master both do not work, but this link is valid: wget –  Lekensteyn Jul 20 at 8:14

Good question. I like these -- where we can gather community input/lists and cherry pick relevant stuff. Here's my .exclude file. I feed this file to rsync as an --exclude-file= parameter in multiple scripts (which you can also do with duplicity). Note that the question implies "what do you want/need to save". For example, I backup my complete .mozilla DIR as it contains multiple profiles and tweaks and it's easier to dump it back on disk as a whole. Also implied in my config: I do a lot of "build from the ground up installs" for testing. So I have a clonezilla image of a known-good-clean-base install, and I add in my personal (/home) data stored on USB after it's on disk; sometimes selectively, sometimes as a whole.

# Filename: admin/dotfiles/exclude
# Create Date: 20110307-23:36HRS
# ln -s admin/dotfiles/exclude ~/.exclude

.compiz # no settings here; processes
.dropbox # don't try to restore and reinitialize either of
.dropbox-dist # these DIRs; very messy results can happen
.gnome2_private # MT; at least on my system
Dropbox/ # recreated on re-initialization
Templates/ # stored on U1
Ubuntu One/ # recreated on re-initialization
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I've recently been looking at doing this sort of thing, and I've noticed that many of the files in my home directory that I don't want to back up seem to not have group permissions set. If the same holds on other systems, then a likely list of suspects might be obtained with:

find ~ -not -perm -g+r

(Although check the output, because although mine seemed mostly good, my e-mail inbox also appeared on the list, and I don't know how well it will work for others.)

This is particularly appealing to me, because my home directory is encrypted (including filenames), so a manual exclusions list would be a PITA, and instead I should be able to use group permissions to auto-generate an exclusion list.

(I know the thread is old, but I thought this might be useful to someone.)

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The permission of a file is a bad guide to determine whether a file is needed or not. Private SSH keys for example should have restrictive permissions, but surely you want to backup them. –  Lekensteyn Aug 17 '14 at 9:49
Permissions are not designed to be used as backup flags. You may have a lot of very good reasons to set custom permissions on files and directories, and your approach could break something. If you really don't like exclusion lists (why not?), instead use the dump/nodump flag of ext3 and ect4 file system to mark files for backup/no backup. This flag has been designed exactly for this purpose. See… –  gerlos May 4 at 13:29

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