A wrapper script for Borg backup software that creates and prunes backups
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borgmatic (formerly atticmatic) is a simple Python wrapper script for the Borg backup software that initiates a backup, prunes any old backups according to a retention policy, and validates backups for consistency. The script supports specifying your settings in a declarative configuration file rather than having to put them all on the command-line, and handles common errors.

Here's an example config file:

    # List of source directories to backup. Globs are expanded.
        - /home
        - /etc
        - /var/log/syslog*

    # Paths to local or remote repositories.
        - user@backupserver:sourcehostname.borg

    # Any paths matching these patterns are excluded from backups.
        - /home/*/.cache

    # Retention policy for how many backups to keep in each category.
    keep_daily: 7
    keep_weekly: 4
    keep_monthly: 6

    # List of consistency checks to run: "repository", "archives", or both.
        - repository
        - archives

borgmatic is hosted at https://torsion.org/borgmatic with source code available. It's also mirrored on GitHub for convenience.


To get up and running, follow the Borg Quick Start to create a repository on a local or remote host. Note that if you plan to run borgmatic on a schedule with cron, and you encrypt your Borg repository with a passphrase instead of a key file, you'll either need to set the borgmatic encryption_passphrase configuration variable or set the BORG_PASSPHRASE environment variable. See the repository encryption section of the Quick Start for more info.

If the repository is on a remote host, make sure that your local root user has key-based ssh access to the desired user account on the remote host.

To install borgmatic, run the following command to download and install it:

sudo pip3 install --upgrade borgmatic

Note that your pip binary may have a different name than "pip3". Make sure you're using Python 3, as borgmatic does not support Python 2.


If you would like to run borgmatic within Docker, please take a look at b3vis/borgmatic for more information.


After you install borgmatic, generate a sample configuration file:

sudo generate-borgmatic-config

This generates a sample configuration file at /etc/borgmatic/config.yaml (by default). You should edit the file to suit your needs, as the values are just representative. All fields are optional except where indicated, so feel free to remove anything you don't need.

You can also have a look at the full configuration schema for the authoritative set of all configuration options. This is handy if borgmatic has added new options since you originally created your configuration file.

Multiple configuration files

A more advanced usage is to create multiple separate configuration files and place each one in an /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

With this approach, you can have entirely 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.

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.

And if you need even more customizability, you can specify alternate configuration paths on the command-line with borgmatic's --config option. See borgmatic --help for more information.


In general, all you should need to do to upgrade borgmatic is run the following:

sudo pip3 install --upgrade borgmatic

However, see below about special cases.

Upgrading from borgmatic 1.0.x

borgmatic changed its configuration file format in version 1.1.0 from INI-style to YAML. This better supports validation, and has a more natural way to express lists of values. To upgrade your existing configuration, first upgrade to the new version of borgmatic.

As of version 1.1.0, borgmatic no longer supports Python 2. If you were already running borgmatic with Python 3, then you can simply upgrade borgmatic in-place:

sudo pip3 install --upgrade borgmatic

But if you were running borgmatic with Python 2, uninstall and reinstall instead:

sudo pip uninstall borgmatic
sudo pip3 install borgmatic

The pip binary names for different versions of Python can differ, so the above commands may need some tweaking to work on your machine.

Once borgmatic is upgraded, run:

sudo upgrade-borgmatic-config

That will generate a new YAML configuration file at /etc/borgmatic/config.yaml (by default) using the values from both your existing configuration and excludes files. The new version of borgmatic will consume the YAML configuration file instead of the old one.

Upgrading from atticmatic

You can ignore this section if you're not an atticmatic user (the former name of borgmatic).

borgmatic only supports Borg now and no longer supports Attic. So if you're an Attic user, consider switching to Borg. See the Borg upgrade command for more information. Then, follow the instructions above about setting up your borgmatic configuration files.

If you were already using Borg with atticmatic, then you can easily upgrade from atticmatic to borgmatic. Simply run the following commands:

sudo pip3 uninstall atticmatic
sudo pip3 install borgmatic

That's it! borgmatic will continue using your /etc/borgmatic configuration files.


You can run borgmatic and start a backup simply by invoking it without arguments:


This will also prune any old backups as per the configured retention policy, and check backups for consistency problems due to things like file damage.

If you'd like to see the available command-line arguments, view the help:

borgmatic --help

Note that borgmatic prunes archives before creating an archive, so as to free up space for archiving. This means that when a borgmatic run finishes, there may still be prune-able archives. Not to worry, as they will get cleaned up at the start of the next run.


By default, the backup will proceed silently except in the case of errors. But if you'd like to to get additional information about the progress of the backup as it proceeds, use the verbosity option:

borgmatic --verbosity 1

Or, for even more progress spew:

borgmatic --verbosity 2

À la carte

If you want to run borgmatic with only pruning, creating, or checking enabled, the following optional flags are available:

borgmatic --prune
borgmatic --create
borgmatic --check

You can run with only one of these flags provided, or you can mix and match any number of them. This supports use cases like running consistency checks from a different cron job with a different frequency, or running pruning with a different verbosity level.


If you want to run borgmatic automatically, say once a day, the you can configure a job runner to invoke it periodically.


If you're using cron, download the sample cron file. Then, from the directory where you downloaded it:

sudo mv borgmatic /etc/cron.d/borgmatic
sudo chmod +x /etc/cron.d/borgmatic

You can modify the cron file if you'd like to run borgmatic more or less frequently.


If you're using systemd instead of cron to run jobs, download the sample systemd service file and the sample systemd timer file. Then, from the directory where you downloaded them:

sudo mv borgmatic.service borgmatic.timer /etc/systemd/system/
sudo systemctl enable borgmatic.timer
sudo systemctl start borgmatic.timer

Feel free to modify the timer file based on how frequently you'd like borgmatic to run.

Running tests

First install tox, which is used for setting up testing environments:

pip3 install tox

Then, to actually run tests, run:



Broken pipe with remote repository

When running borgmatic on a large remote repository, you may receive errors like the following, particularly while "borg check" is validating backups for consistency:

    Write failed: Broken pipe
    borg: Error: Connection closed by remote host

This error can be caused by an ssh timeout, which you can rectify by adding the following to the ~/.ssh/config file on the client:

    Host *
        ServerAliveInterval 120

This should make the client keep the connection alive while validating backups.

libyaml compilation errors

borgmatic depends on a Python YAML library (ruamel.yaml) that will optionally use a C YAML library (libyaml) if present. But if it's not installed, then when installing or upgrading borgmatic, you may see errors about compiling the YAML library. If so, not to worry. borgmatic should install and function correctly even without the C YAML library. And borgmatic won't be any faster with the C library present, so you don't need to go out of your way to install it.

Issues and feedback

Got an issue or an idea for a feature enhancement? Check out the borgmatic issue tracker. In order to create a new issue or comment on an issue, you'll need to login first. Note that you can login with an existing GitHub account if you prefer.

Other questions or comments? Contact mailto:witten@torsion.org.