How to extract a backup


When the worst happens—or you want to test your backups—the first step is to figure out which archive to extract. A good way to do that is to use the rlist action:

borgmatic rlist

(No borgmatic rlist action? Try list instead or upgrade borgmatic!)

That should yield output looking something like:

host-2023-01-01T04:05:06.070809      Tue, 2023-01-01 04:05:06 [...]
host-2023-01-02T04:06:07.080910 Wed, 2023-01-02 04:06:07 [...]

Assuming that you want to extract the archive with the most up-to-date files and therefore the latest timestamp, run a command like:

borgmatic extract --archive host-2023-01-02T04:06:07.080910

(No borgmatic extract action? Upgrade borgmatic!)

Or simplify this to:

borgmatic extract --archive latest

The --archive value is the name of the archive to extract. This extracts the entire contents of the archive to the current directory, so make sure you're in the right place before running the command—or see below about the --destination flag.

Repository selection

If you have a single repository in your borgmatic configuration file(s), no problem: the extract action figures out which repository to use.

But if you have multiple repositories configured, then you'll need to specify the repository path containing the archive to extract. Here's an example:

borgmatic extract --repository repo.borg --archive host-2023-...

Extract particular files

Sometimes, you want to extract a single deleted file, rather than extracting everything from an archive. To do that, tack on one or more --path values. For instance:

borgmatic extract --archive latest --path path/1 path/2

Note that the specified restore paths should not have a leading slash. Like a whole-archive extract, this also extracts into the current directory by default. So for example, if you happen to be in the directory /var and you run the extract command above, borgmatic will extract /var/path/1 and /var/path/2.

Searching for files

If you're not sure which archive contains the files you're looking for, you can search across archives.

Extract to a particular destination

By default, borgmatic extracts files into the current directory. To instead extract files to a particular destination directory, use the --destination flag:

borgmatic extract --archive latest --destination /tmp

When using the --destination flag, be careful not to overwrite your system's files with extracted files unless that is your intent.

Database restoration

The borgmatic extract command only extracts files. To restore a database, please see the documentation on database backups and restores. borgmatic does not perform database restoration as part of borgmatic extract so that you can extract files from your archive without impacting your live databases.

Mount a filesystem

If instead of extracting files, you'd like to explore the files from an archive as a FUSE filesystem, you can use the borgmatic mount action. Here's an example:

borgmatic mount --archive latest --mount-point /mnt

This mounts the entire archive on the given mount point /mnt, so that you can look in there for your files.

Omit the --archive flag to mount all archives (lazy-loaded):

borgmatic mount --mount-point /mnt

Or use the "latest" value for the archive to mount the latest archive:

borgmatic mount --archive latest --mount-point /mnt

If you'd like to restrict the mounted filesystem to only particular paths from your archive, use the --path flag, similar to the extract action above. For instance:

borgmatic mount --archive latest --mount-point /mnt --path var/lib

When you're all done exploring your files, unmount your mount point. No --archive flag is needed:

borgmatic umount --mount-point /mnt

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