Tarsnap Requirements

At the present time,

  • Windows is not supported (except via Cygwin).
  • There is no graphical user interface.
  • There are no official pre-built binaries.

Getting started with Tarsnap

There are 5 steps before you can begin your first backup with Tarsnap:

1. Install the Tarsnap client code

  • Follow the instructions on the Tarsnap client code download page.
  • When Tarsnap is installed, a sample configuration file is installed into /usr/local/etc/tarsnap.conf.sample; you may wish to move or copy this to /usr/local/etc/tarsnap.conf.
    You may predict how much it will cost to store your data in Tarsnap before you sign up.

2. Sign up for a Tarsnap account

  • Sign up on the Tarsnap registration page.
  • You will receive an email asking you to confirm your registration.
    Email confirmation serves two purposes, as it:
    • Checks for mistyped or otherwise undeliverable email addresses.
    • Ensures that people can't be registered against their will.

3. Deposit funds into your account

  • Log into the Tarsnap account management interface and add funds to your account.
  • The initial deposit must be $5 or more.
    Tarsnap operates on a prepaid basis (like many mobile phones), so you must add funds to your account before you can use it.

4. Register the machine(s) on which you will be using Tarsnap

  • To register a machine with the Tarsnap server,
    On most systems (Linux, MacOS X, etc.)
    sudo tarsnap-keygen \
    	--keyfile /root/tarsnap.key \
    	--user me@example.com \
    	--machine mybox
    Other systems (without sudo)
    tarsnap-keygen \
    	--keyfile /root/tarsnap.key \
    	--user me@example.com \
    	--machine mybox
    with appropriate values substituted:
    • /root/tarsnap.key: file in which to store the keys used to create and access archives.
    • me@example.com: the email address you used to sign up with Tarsnap.
    • mybox: the desired machine name.
  • Enter your Tarsnap account password when prompted.
    The tarsnap-keygen utility registers a machine with the Tarsnap server, which:
    • Confirms that the machine's usage should be charged to your account.
    • Generates cryptographic keys used to store, restore, and (optionally) delete the machine's backups.

5. Keep your key file safe

  • Store your /root/tarsnap.key somewhere safe.
    If you lose tarsnap.key, you will not be able to access your archived data.
    The same encryption which ensures your data security also means that there is no way for anybody (including Tarsnap Backup Inc.) to restore your data without this key.
  • There are many ways to keep it safe:
    • Copy it to a different system.
    • Put it on a USB disk.
    • Give it to a friend.
    • Print it out (it is printable text).
    • Store it in a bank vault.
    Pick at least one and do it!

Using Tarsnap

Once you've created your key file(s), you're ready to start using Tarsnap.

Remember: If you have multiple machines, you almost certainly want to create a separate key file for each machine. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as appropriate.

The easiest way to get started is with our simple usage instructions.

If you're one of the rare people who can remember tar flags, you might want to skip directly to the Tarsnap man page.

An alternative method would be to use one of the third-party helper scripts to automate backups.

Tarsnap Backup Inc. does not endorse any third-party scripts.