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Generate paper backups for Linux. Currently command-line Linux only.

qr-backup takes file(s), and outputs a "paper backup": a printable black-and-white pdf full of QR codes. To back up your file, print the PDF. The pile of paper in your hand is now a backup of the file.

If your file is lost, corrupted, deleted, etc, you can restore from your paper backup. qr-backup reads the QR barcodes using your computer's webcam (or scanner) to get your file back.

Example Backup

Example Backup


  • Restore without qr-backup installed (!)
  • Restore using webcam
  • Restore using scanner
  • Clear, printed instructions on what the file is and how to restore
  • Automatic compression
  • 3KB/page on default settings. Single-digit MB backups of text are practical
  • (Optional) Password protection
  • (Optional) Print multiple copies for safety
  • (Optional) Print smaller, denser codes to boost storage, up to 130KB/page
  • (Restore with qr-backup only) Automatic redundancy. Lose up to 30% of pages or QR codes safely
  • See Command Line Options for more

How to Use

Making a backup

  1. Run qr-backup on your file. On the Linux command-line, run qr-backup <YOUR_FILE>
  2. This generates a black-and-white PDF (<YOUR_FILE>.qr.pdf)
  3. Print the PDF on your printer

There are many command-line options available for advanced users. For a full list, read the USAGE doc online, or run qr-backup --help on your computer.

Restoring a paper backup

The restore process does NOT require qr-backup. It does require a command-line Linux computer.

(Option 1): Use qr-backup, if you have it.

  • Webcam option
    1. Run qr-backup --restore
  • Scanner option
    1. Scan images using your scanner
    2. Run qr-backup --restore IMAGES

(Option 2): Use the linux command line, if you lose qr-backup. Commands are provided in the PDF printout. You will need to install zbar.

Paper Backups