I'm using the Ubuntu pre-installed Backups software, with Ubuntu 16.04 for Desktop (but perhaps the same issue was on older Ubuntu also).

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Each time it starts (once a day) it consumes 100% of cpu for several minutes. Since I was thinking that a backup software should be silent and invisible, this is quite annoying.

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Would be ok if it takes four or five times more than the time it takes now to do its things, but consuming less cpu and being more quiet.

Is there a silent mode for the Backups software or a better alternative backup software for Ubuntu?

  • I'm getting the same problem. The worst thing is it is going slower than it was on 14.04, and using a whole lot more CPU. Jul 26, 2016 at 23:36
  • I still have this problem. You expect a built-in program to work more or less flawlessly.
    – bluppfisk
    Apr 9, 2018 at 3:25

2 Answers 2


Honestly, I've never heard of the program you're using.

I personally prefer rsnapshot (http://rsnapshot.org/) for my backup needs. The Ubuntu package is the same name.

Since it uses hardlinks, the first time it runs may use a lot of CPU time, but afterwards, it won't. (Especially if you have few files that change between backups -- which is the case for most people.) Likewise, it won't use much diskspace over time.

Having said that, I schedule backups in the middle of the night. So other than when I'm testing the configuration file, I don't really have a chance to notice the CPU time. This is unrelated to whether or not you are running this on a server; rsnapshot can be run on the command line. Or, you can create a short-cut on your desktop to it.

Another suggestion is to just renice the program so that it runs at a lower priority. If you need to do this automatically, then some short bash programming will be needed. See, for example, https://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?t=36870 or just search for the phrase "automatic renice".

Off the top of my head, I don't know how to do it, but my guess is that you would have to:

  • write a bash script that finds out the process ID
  • run renice on it
  • put this script in a cronjob and either make it run right after your backup starts or have it run repeatedly (i.e., every hour)

I guess the script might look like this, but you really need to clean this up as it's really off the top of my head:

 PID=`ps -ef | grep "<program name>" | grep -v "grep" | tr -s ' ' | cut -f 2 -d ' '  | head -n 1`
 renice -10 ${PID}

The PID line does this in order:

  1. Gets a list of processes.
  2. Searches for .
  3. Removes any line that has both and "grep".
  4. Replace consecutive spaces into a single space.
  5. Grab the second column's values using space as a delimiter.
  6. Take the first line.

Hope this helps get you started!

  • I edited my question, with a screenshot of the Backups software I'm using. Also, I didn't specified I'm using Ubuntu for Desktop on my laptop, not on servers. So it's for personal backups and the laptop is turned on only when I'm using it (during the night it's turned off). Anyway, thank you for the reference to rsnaphot (I didn't know it).
    – Andrea
    May 22, 2016 at 9:14
  • Actually, perhaps what I said was misleading. Yes, rsnapshot can be used for servers, but it can also be used for a desktop or a laptop. On a server, you place a command in a crontab so that it runs at regular times. On a desktop/laptop, you would just type that command out. You don't have a nice graphical interface, but there is nothing about rsnapshot that says you have to run it on servers only. Give it a try and see if the CPU usage is better; but judge it from the second run since the first will do a lot of copying and scanning.
    – Ray
    May 22, 2016 at 10:01
  • I just read about deja dup (wiki.gnome.org/Apps/DejaDup/HowItWorks) and like rsnapshot, it uses rsync in the background. So, perhaps the level of improvement might not be huge. But, you never know...
    – Ray
    May 22, 2016 at 10:04
  • @Andrea Sorry, but I had another idea. If you're doing the backup while you're doing work and it's greatly affecting it, then you can look up the renice command and try lowering the priority of the backup program. Something else worth trying...
    – Ray
    May 22, 2016 at 12:08
  • Ok, thank you. I will try with renice next time if things are bad.. I think you can put this in another answer also. Since the backup process automatically starts, do you know if I can automatically set a low priority?
    – Andrea
    May 22, 2016 at 14:18

Ubuntu Backup a.k.a. DejaDup uses duplicity as the backend. There was a bug in duplicity in 2014 that was fixed that caused this. It still happens though, so you could report another bug in duplicity. This bug only affects one physical core, so the computer should still be responsive on multi-CPU machines. Otherwise you may consider the various other backup alternatives, or have your computer backup when you're not using it.

You could also try a larger blocksize?

duplicity --max-blocksize 4096 [full/incremental] src dest

   --max-blocksize number
          determines the number of the blocks examined for changes during the diff process.  For files < 1MB
          the blocksize is a constant of 512.  For files over 1MB the size is given by:

          file_blocksize = int((file_len / (2000 * 512)) * 512)
          return min(file_blocksize, globals.max_blocksize)

          where globals.max_blocksize defaults to 2048.  If you specify a larger max_blocksize, your difftar
          files will be larger, but your sigtar files will be smaller.  If you specify a smaller max_blocksize,
          the reverse occurs.  The --max-blocksize option should be in multiples of 512.

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