A command-line utility and API for Git-based backups
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Silo is command-line utility and Ruby API for Git-based backups. With Silo you can backup arbitrary files into one or more Git repositories and take advantage of Git's compression, speed and other features. No Git knowledge needed.


To backup files into a repository Silo uses the well-known and established version control system (VCS) Git. Instead of using Git's frontend commands for the end-user, so called "porcelain" commands, Silo makes use of the more low-level "plumbing" commands. These can be used to write directly to the Git repository, bypassing the automatisms tailored for source code histories.


  • Grit – a Ruby API for Git
  • Rubikon – a Ruby framework for console applications
  • Git >= 1.6


You can install Silo using RubyGems. This is the easiest way of installing and recommended for most users.

$ gem install silo

If you want to use the development code you can add the following dependency to your Gemfile:

gem 'silo', :git => git://github.com/koraktor/silo.git

If you want to work with the development code you should clone the Git repository:

$ git clone git://github.com/koraktor/silo.git
$ cd silo
$ bundle install

Or even better, create your own fork.

The current status of the development code: Build Status

Basic usage

Configuration files

Silo searches for configuration files (.silo) in the current working directory, your home directory and your systems global configuration directory (i.e. /etc on Unix).

They can be used to set Silo-specific options globally or for single directories. That way you may have one general Silo repository for common backups and another Silo repository for e.g. work-related files.

Configuration files are expected in a Git-like format and may contain the following sections and variables:

  • repository

    • path – The path of the default repository to use
    • prefix – The path inside the repository to store files to per default


  path   = /Users/jondoe/backup.git
  prefix = work

This would usually save and restore files to and from /Users/jondoe/backup.git and save files into the directory work inside the repository.

Initialize a repository

$ silo init [repository path]

Add files or directories to the repository

$ silo add file [file ...] [--prefix <prefix>]

The prefix allows to organize the files inside the repository.

Restore files or directories from the repository

$ silo restore file [file ...] [--prefix <prefix>]

The prefix is the directory inside your file system where the restored files will be saved.

Remove files or directories from the repository

$ silo remove file [file ...]
$ silo rm file [file ...]

Completely purge files or directories from the repository

$ silo purge file [file ...] [--no-clean]

This will completely remove the specified files from the repository and thus reduce the required disk space.

WARNING: There's no method built-in to Silo or Git to recover files after purging.

The --no-clean flag will cause Git commits to persist even after their contents have been purged.

Manage remote repositories for mirrored backups

$ silo remote [-v]
$ silo remote add name url
$ silo remote rm name

Add or remove a remote repository with the specified name. When adding a remote repository the specified location may be given as any location Git understands – including file system paths.

Distribute the state of your repository to all mirror repositories

$ silo distribute

List repository contents

$ silo list [file ...] [-l] [-r]

The -l flag will list each directory and file in a separate line, -r will reverse the listing.

Display info about repository contents

$ silo info [file ...] [-v]

Using the Ruby API

The documentation of the Ruby API can be seen at RubyDoc.info. The API documentation of the current development version is also available there.


This code is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the new BSD License. A copy of this license can be found in the LICENSE file.


  • Sebastian Staudt – koraktor(at)gmail.com

See Also

Follow Silo on Twitter @silorb.