How to make per-application backups

Multiple backup configurations

You may find yourself wanting to create different backup policies for different applications on your system. For instance, you may want one backup configuration for your database data directory, and a different configuration for your user home directories.

The way to accomplish that is pretty simple: Create multiple separate configuration files and place each one in a /etc/borgmatic.d/ directory. For instance:

sudo mkdir /etc/borgmatic.d
sudo generate-borgmatic-config --destination /etc/borgmatic.d/app1.yaml
sudo generate-borgmatic-config --destination /etc/borgmatic.d/app2.yaml

When you set up multiple configuration files like this, borgmatic will run each one in turn from a single borgmatic invocation. This includes, by default, the traditional /etc/borgmatic/config.yaml as well.

Each configuration file is interpreted independently, as if you ran borgmatic for each configuration file one at a time. In other words, borgmatic does not perform any merging of configuration files by default. If you'd like borgmatic to merge your configuration files, see below about configuration includes.

Additionally, the ~/.config/borgmatic.d/ directory works the same way as /etc/borgmatic.d.

If you need even more customizability, you can specify alternate configuration paths on the command-line with borgmatic's --config flag. (See borgmatic --help for more information.) For instance, if you want to schedule your various borgmatic backups to run at different times, you'll need multiple entries in your scheduling software of choice, each entry using borgmatic's --config flag instead of relying on /etc/borgmatic.d.

Configuration includes

Once you have multiple different configuration files, you might want to share common configuration options across these files with having to copy and paste them. To achieve this, you can put fragments of common configuration options into a file, and then include or inline that file into one or more borgmatic configuration files.

Let's say that you want to include common retention configuration across all of your configuration files. You could do that in each configuration file with the following:


!include /etc/borgmatic/common_retention.yaml

And then the contents of common_retention.yaml could be:

keep_hourly: 24
keep_daily: 7

To prevent borgmatic from trying to load these configuration fragments by themselves and complaining that they are not valid configuration files, you should put them in a directory other than /etc/borgmatic.d/. (A subdirectory is fine.)

When a configuration include is a relative path, borgmatic loads it from either the current working directory or from the directory containing the file doing the including.

Note that this form of include must be a YAML value rather than a key. For example, this will not work:


# Don't do this. It won't work!
!include /etc/borgmatic/common_retention.yaml

But if you do want to merge in a YAML key and its values, keep reading!

Include merging

If you need to get even fancier and pull in common configuration options while potentially overriding individual options, you can perform a YAML merge of included configuration using the YAML << key. For instance, here's an example of a main configuration file that pulls in two retention options via an include and then overrides one of them locally:

<<: !include /etc/borgmatic/common.yaml


keep_daily: 5

This is what common.yaml might look like:

keep_hourly: 24
keep_daily: 7

Once this include gets merged in, the resulting configuration would have a keep_hourly value of 24 and an overridden keep_daily value of 5.

When there's an option collision between the local file and the merged include, the local file's option takes precedence.

Note that this << include merging syntax is only for merging in mappings (configuration options and their values). But if you'd like to include a single value directly, please see the section above about standard includes.

Additionally, there is a limitation preventing multiple << include merges per section. So for instance, that means you can do one << merge at the global level, another << within each configuration section, etc. (This is a YAML limitation.)

Deep merge

New in version 1.6.0 borgmatic performs a deep merge of merged include files, meaning that values are merged at all levels in the two configuration files. Colliding list values are appended together. This allows you to include common configuration—up to full borgmatic configuration files—while overriding only the parts you want to customize.

Configuration overrides

In more complex multi-application setups, you may want to override particular borgmatic configuration file options at the time you run borgmatic. For instance, you could reuse a common configuration file for multiple applications, but then set the repository for each application at runtime. Or you might want to try a variant of an option for testing purposes without actually touching your configuration file.

Whatever the reason, you can override borgmatic configuration options at the command-line via the --override flag. Here's an example:

borgmatic create --override location.remote_path=/usr/local/bin/borg1

What this does is load your configuration files, and for each one, disregard the configured value for the remote_path option in the location section, and use the value of /usr/local/bin/borg1 instead.

You can even override multiple values at once. For instance:

borgmatic create --override section.option1=value1 section.option2=value2

This will accomplish the same thing:

borgmatic create --override section.option1=value1 --override section.option2=value2

Note that each value is parsed as an actual YAML string, so you can even set list values by using brackets. For instance:

borgmatic create --override location.repositories=[test1.borg,test2.borg]

Or even a single list element:

borgmatic create --override location.repositories=[/root/test.borg]

If your override value contains special YAML characters like colons, then you'll need quotes for it to parse correctly:

borgmatic create --override location.repositories="['user@server:test.borg']"

There is not currently a way to override a single element of a list without replacing the whole list.

Note that if you override an option of the list type (like location.repositories), you do need to use the [ ] list syntax. See the configuration reference for which options are list types. (YAML list values look like - this with an indentation and a leading dash.)

Be sure to quote your overrides if they contain spaces or other characters that your shell may interpret.

An alternate to command-line overrides is passing in your values via environment variables.

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