So my situation is as follows: I'm using BackInTime (which uses rsync) to run full, incremental backups of my 3 TB drive to another 3 TB drive. I've done such a full backup once and have around 100GB of free storage space on the backup drive. Now I moved around many GBs of files on the drive I want to have backed up and also renamed some files and directories.

What would be the best way to create a new backup / update the existing backup without having to first delete the old backup to free up space?

I don't think that BackInTime recognizes that files or directories have been moved or renamed, does it? (Maybe it will support this at some point?)
I only need one snapshot / backup. So the old one should get deleted somehow during the backup. But I'm not sure how BackInTime could do that. The Auto-remove option If free space is less than... might be relevant here. In the case that BackInTime here needs to delete some backed up files in a way that causes some files currently on my drive not being backed up I'd like to keep that amount minimal and if possible specify unimportant directories.

I'm using Debian 9 with KDE and the EXT4 filesystem.

  • 1
    I did this once and it was basically just painful and tedious. One option is to rsync one directory at a time (/maindrive/mainname to /backupdrive/backupname for example). Another is to sha1sum and delete duplicates on /backupdrive and let BackInTime copy over the same files again. Easiest solution is to buy, borrow, or steal a new drive at least temporarily.
    – user2267
    Sep 8, 2017 at 23:17

1 Answer 1


Copy from my FAQ:

How to move large directory in source without duplicating backup?

If you move a file/folder in source BiT will treat it like a new file/folder and create a new backup file for it (not hard-linked to the old one). With large directories this can fill up your backup drive quite fast. You can avoid this by moving the file/folder in the last snapshot, too.

  1. create a new snapshot
  2. move the original folder
  3. manually move the same folder inside BiTs last snapshot in the same way you did with the original folder
  4. create a new snapshot
  5. remove the overlast snapshot (the one where you moved the folder manually) to avoid problems with permissions when you try to restore from that snapshot

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