Haskell program for managing tarsnap backups
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This application manages tarsnap backups, and is expected to be run via cron, although doesn't have to be. In its default mode, it should take 6 daily backups in a row until Sunday, at which point it should take a weekly backup and remove those daily backups. It will carry that on until the first day of the month, when it will take a monthly backup, clearing up any weekly backups. You can force a backup of a specific type and/or disable the clean up.

The archives will be created in the following format:


So, if i was backing up my Mail directory daily:


Or the file world_domination.txt weekly:



  • tarsnap
  • a tarsnap.rc (system or user level for the user executing it)
  • GHC 8


Now uses stack, but you can still use cabal

Error Codes

The Error Code should be passed through from tarsnap, along with any error text. Handy tip: code 127 means the tarsnap executable can't be found in the $PATH. On Unix systems by default tarsnap will be in /usr/local/bin unless you ran configure with the --prefix option. /usr/local/bin is in the path for cron at system level (on my Debian system), but when running my user's crontab, it doesn't appear to be. My suggestion is to install tarsnap into /usr not /usr/local.

Cron Examples

Note: these examples pipe the output to logger so errors show up in syslog or however you have your system configured (I don't run a local MTA on my desktop machine, for example, so cron can't email about failures)

To automatically back things up, at 4AM every day:

0 04 * * * /usr/bin/tarsnap-backup /home/irv/Mail 2>&1 |/usr/bin/logger -t tarsnap-backup

This will backup my Mail directory every day at 4AM, producing 6 daily backups, then on a Sunday a weekly backup and remove the daily ones. Then on the 1st of the month, a monthly backup, deleting all the weekly backups.

If you just want to force a type of backup?

* * * * 0 /usr/bin/tarsnap-backup -f=Weekly /home/irv/Documents 2>&1 |/usr/bin/logger -t tarsnap-backup

Once a week, backup my documents folder. You might want to disable clean up if you only ever run a weekly (or monthly) backup; this will save you a tiny amount of time and bandwidth.

If you don't want to lose the granularity of the daily backup (and have it merge into a weekly then monthly), you can force the frequency to daily.

Another handy tip: make sure you have a blank line at the end of your crontab or it won't run!