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0. Description is a script that backs up your Tumblr blog locally.

The backup includes all images both from inline text as well as photo posts. An index links to monthly pages, which contain all the posts from the respective month with links to single post pages. Command line options select which posts to backup and set the output format. The audio and video files can also be saved.

By default, all posts of a blog are backed up in minimally styled HTML5.

You can see an example of its output on my home page.

1. Installation

  1. Download and unzip or clone the Github repo from git://
  2. Copy or symlink to a directory on your $PATH like ~/bin or /usr/local/bin.
  3. Run blog-name as often as you like manually or from a cron job. The recommendation is to do a hourly incremental backup and a daily complete one.

There are two optional dependencies that enable additional features:

  1. To backup audio and video, install youtube-dl.
  2. To enable EXIF tagging, install pyexiv2.

The fastest option to install these packages is via the package manager of your operating system (apt-get, synaptic, yum, brew, etc). If this is not feasible, download and install from the links above.

2. Usage

Synopsis [options] blog-name ...


-h, --help            show this help message and exit
-O OUTDIR, --outdir=OUTDIR
                      set the output directory (default: blog-name)
-D, --dirs            save each post in its own folder
-q, --quiet           suppress progress messages
-i, --incremental     incremental backup mode
-j, --json            save the original JSON source
-k, --skip-images     do not save images; link to Tumblr instead
--save-video          save video files
--save-audio          save audio files
-b, --blosxom         save the posts in blosxom format
-r, --reverse-month   reverse the post order in the monthly archives
-R, --reverse-index   reverse the index file order
-a HOUR, --auto=HOUR  do a full backup at HOUR hours, otherwise do an
                      incremental backup (useful for cron jobs)
-n COUNT, --count=COUNT
                      save only COUNT posts
-s SKIP, --skip=SKIP  skip the first SKIP posts
-p PERIOD, --period=PERIOD
                      limit the backup to PERIOD:
                        'y': the current year
                        'm': the current month
                        'd': the current day (i.e. today ;-)
                        YYYY: the given year
                        YYYY-MM: the given month
                        YYYY-MM-DD: the given day
-N COUNT, --posts-per-page=COUNT
                      set the number of posts per monthly page
                      save posts matching the request
                      TYPE:TAG:TAG:…,TYPE:TAG:…,…. TYPE can be text, quote,
                      link, answer, video, audio, photo, chat or any; TAGs
                      can be omitted or a colon-separated list. Example:
                      -Q any:personal,quote,photo:me:self
-t TAGS, --tags=TAGS  save only posts tagged TAGS (comma-separated values;
-T TYPE, --type=TYPE  save only posts of type TYPE (comma-separated values;
                      from text, quote, link, answer, video, audio, photo,
--no-reblog           don't save reblogged posts
-I FMT, --image-names=FMT
                      image filename format ('o'=original, 'i'=<post-id>,
-e KW, --exif=KW      add EXIF keyword tags to each picture (comma-separated
                      values; '-' to remove all tags, '' to add no extra
-S, --no-ssl-verify   ignore SSL verification errors


blog-name: The name of the blog to backup.

If your blog is under, you can give just the first domain name part; if your blog is under your own domain, give the whole domain name. You can give more than one blog-name to backup multiple blogs in one go.

The default blog name can be changed in the script.

Environment variables

LC_ALL, LC_TIME, LANG: These variables, in decreasing importance, determine the locale for month names and the date/time format.

Exit code

The exit code is 0 if at least one post has been backed up, 1 if no post has been backed up, 2 on invocation errors, 3 if the backup was interrupted, or 4 on HTTP errors.

Backup via

To backup a list of tumblr addresses, copy to, and add the addresses to the list in that file.

3. Operation

By default, tumblr_backup backs up all posts in HTML format.

The generated directory structure looks like this:

./ - the current directory
    <outdir>/ - your blog backup
        index.html - table of contents with links to the monthly pages
        backup.css - the default backup style sheet
        custom.css - the user's style sheet (optional)
        override.css - the user's style sheet override (optional)
            <yyyy-mm-pnn>.html - the monthly pages
            <id>.html - the single post pages
            <image.ext> - image files
            <audio>.mp3 - audio files
            <video>.mp4 - video files
            <id>.json - the original JSON posts
            avatar.<ext> - the blog’s avatar
            style.css - the blog’s style sheet

The default outdir is the blog-name.

If option -D is used, one folder per post is generated, and the post's images are saved in the same folder. The monthly archive is also stored in a folder per month. This results in the same URL structure as on the Tumblr page.

The directories look like this:

./ - the current directory
    <outdir>/ - your blog backup
        index.html - table of contents with links to the monthly pages
        backup.css - the default backup style sheet
        custom.css - the user's style sheet (optional)
        override.css - the user's style sheet override (optional)
                index.html - the monthly page
                index.html - the single post page
                <image.ext> - the image file(s) for this post
                <audio>.mp3 - audio files
                <video>.mp4 - video files
            <id>.json - the original JSON posts
            avatar.<ext> - the blog’s avatar
            style.css - the blog’s style sheet

The modification time of the single post pages is set to the post’s timestamp. tumblr_backup applies a simple style to the saved pages. All generated pages are HTML5.

The index pages are recreated from scratch after every backup, based on the existing single post pages. Normally, the index and monthly pages are in reverse chronological order, i.e. more recent entries on top. The options -R and -r can be used to reverse the order.

If you want to use a custom CSS file, call it custom.css, put it in the backup folder and do a complete backup. Without a custom CSS file, tumblr_backup saves a default style sheet in backup.css. The blog's style sheet itself is always saved in theme/style.css.

It you want to override just a few default styles, create the file override.css in the backup folder. This file is included automatically by the default style sheet. You may have to mark your overriding styles with !important to make them stick because override.css is imported first in the style sheet.

Tumblr saves some image files without extension. This probably saves a few billion bytes in their database. tumblr_backup restores the image extensions. If an image is already backed up, it is not downloaded again. If an image is re-uploaded/edited, the old image is kept in the backup, but no post links to it. The format of the image file names can be selected with the -I option.

It must be noted that saved inline images (from non-photo posts) keep their name. This means that only the first image with any given name will be saved; the others with the same name will point to the first one.

The download of images can be disabled with option -k. In this case, the image URLs will point to the original location.

With option -e, IPTC keyword tags can be added to image files. There are three possibilities:

  1. -e kw1,kw2 adds the post's tags plus kw1 and kw2 as keywords
  2. -e '' adds just the post's tags
  3. -e - removes all keywords from the image

In incremental backup mode, tumblr_backup saves only posts that have higher ids than the highest id saved locally. Note that posts that are edited after being backed up are not backed up again with this option.

In JSON backup mode, the original JSON source returned by the Tumblr API is saved under the json/ folder in addition to the HTML format.

Automatic archive mode -a is designed to be used from an hourly cron script. It normally makes an incremental backup except if the current hour is the one given as argument. In this case, tumblr_backup will make a full backup. An example invocation is -qa4 to do a full backup at 4 in the morning. This option obviates the need for shell script logic to determine what options to pass. If you don't want cron to send a mail if no new posts have been backed up, use this crontab entry:

0 * * * * tumblr_backup -qa4 <blog-name> || test $? -eq 1

This changes the exit code 1 to 0.

In Blosxom format mode, the posts generated are saved in a format suitable for re-publishing in Blosxom with the Meta plugin. Images are not downloaded; instead, the image links point back to the original image on Tumblr. The posts are saved in the current folder with a .txt extension. The index is not updated.

In order to limit the set of backed up posts, use the -n and -s options. The most recent post is always number 0, so the option -n 200 would select the 200 most recent posts. Calling tumblr_backup -n 100 -s 200 would skip the 200 most recent posts and backup the next 100. -n 1 is the fastest way to rebuild the index pages.

The option -T limits the backup to posts of the given type. -t saves only posts with the given tags. -Q combines both: it accepts comma-separated requests of the form TYPE:TAG1:TAG2:…, where the tags for each post type can be different. Omitting the TAGs is allowed; this saves posts of this type with any or no tags. Example: -Q any:personal,quote,photo:me:self saves all posts tagged 'personal', all quotes, and photos tagged 'me' or 'self' or 'personal' (because of the any request).

The option --no-reblog suppresses the backup of reposts of other blogs' posts.

If you combine -n, -s, -i, -p, -t, -T, -Q and --no-reblog, only posts matching all criteria will be backed up.

All options use only public Tumblr APIs, so you can use the program to backup blogs that you don’t own.

tumblr_backup is developed and tested on Linux and OS X. If you want to run it under Windows, I suggest to try the excellent Cygwin environment.

4. Changelog

See here. There are no formal releases so check back often!

5. Acknowledgments

  • bdoms for the initial implementation
  • WyohKnott for numerous bug reports and patches
  • Tumblr for their discontinued backup tool whose output was the inspiration for the styling applied in tumblr_backup.

6. Author

Beat Bolli <>,