You invoke Emborg from your shell by entering a line of the form:

$ emborg [global-options] <command> [command-options]

Details about the options and commands can be accessed with:

$ emborg help


$ emborg help <command>

The available commands are:

borg:run a raw borg command.
breaklock:breaks the repository and cache locks.
check:checks the repository and its archives
configs:list available backup configurations
create:create an archive of the current files
delete:delete an archive currently contained in the repository
diff:show the differences between two archives
due:days since last backup
extract:recover file or files from archive
help:give information about commands or other topics
info:print information about a backup
init:initialize the repository
list:list the archives currently contained in the repository
log:print logfile for the last emborg run
manifest:list the files contained in an archive
mount:mount a repository or archive
prune:prune the repository of excess archives
restore:recover file or files from archive in place
settings:list settings of chosen configuration
umount:un-mount a previously mounted repository or archive
version:display emborg version

These commands are described in more detail below. Not everything is described here. Run emborg help <cmd> for the details.


Runs raw Borg commands. Before running the passphrase or passcommand is set. Also, if @repo is found on the command line, it is replaced by the path to the repository.

$ emborg borg key export @repo key.borg
$ emborg borg list @repo::root-2020-04-11T23:38:37


This command breaks the repository and cache locks. Please use carefully and only while no Borg process (on any machine) is trying to access the Cache or the Repository.

$ emborg break-lock
$ emborg breaklock


Check the integrity of the repository and its archives. The most recently created archive is checked if one is not specified unless --all is given, in which case all archives are checked.

The --repair option will attempt to repair any damage found. Be aware that this is considered an experimental feature in Borg and so carries extra risk due to its immaturity.


List the available backup configurations. Each configuration corresponds to a settings file in your configuration directory (~/.config/emborg). Settings common to all your configurations should be placed in ~/.config/emborg/settings. You can see available configurations using:

$ emborg configs

To run a command on a specific configuration, add –config=<cfg> or -c cfg before the command. For example:

$ emborg -c home create


This creates an archive in an existing repository. An archive is a snapshot of your files as they currently exist. Borg is a de-duplicating backup program, so only the changes from the already existing archives are saved.

$ emborg create

Before creating your first archive, you must use the init command to initialize your repository.

This is the default command, so you can create an archive with simply:

$ emborg

If the backup seems to be taking a long time for no obvious reason, run the backup in verbose mode:

$ emborg -v create

This can help you understand what is happening.


Delete an archive currently contained in the repository:

$ emborg delete continuum-2018-12-05T19:23:09

Only one archive can be deleted per command invocation. If an archive is not given, the latest is deleted.

Specifying --repo results in the entire repository being deleted.


Shows the differences between two archives:

$ emborg diff continuum-2018-12-05T19:23:09 continuum-2018-12-04T17:41:28


When run with no options it indicates when the last backup was created. For example:

$ emborg due
backup was performed 19 hours ago.

Adding the –days option results in the message only being printed if the backup has not been performed within the specified number of days. Adding the –email option results in the message being sent to the specified address rather than printed. This allows you to run the due command from a cron script in order to send your self reminders to do a backup if one has not occurred for a while. In these case it is often run with the –no-log option to avoid replacing the log file with one that is inherently uninteresting:

$ emborg --no-log due --days 1 --email

You can specify a specific message to be printed with –message. In this case, {days} is replaced by the number of days since the last backup. You can add floating-point format codes to specify the resolution used. For example: {days:.1f}. Also, {elapsed} is replaced with a humanized description of how long it has been since the last backup, and {config} is replaced with the name of the configuration being reported on. So --message '{elapsed} since last backup of {config}.' might produce something like this:

12 hours since last backup of home.

With composite configurations the message is printed for each component config unless –oldest is specified, in which case only the oldest is displayed.


You extract a file or directory from an archive using:

$ emborg extract home/shaunte/bin

Use manifest to determine what path you should specify to identify the desired file or directory. You can specify more than one path. Usually, they will be paths that are relative to /, thus the paths should look like absolute paths with the leading slash removed. The paths may point to directories, in which case the entire directory is extracted. It may also be a glob pattern.

If you do not specify an archive or date, the most recent archive is used. You can extract the version of a file or directory that existed on a particular date using:

$ emborg extract --date 2015-04-01 home/shaunte/bin

Or, you can extract the version from a particular archive using:

$ emborg extract --archive continuum-2018-12-05T12:54:26 home/shaunte/bin

The extracted files are placed in the current working directory with the original hierarchy. Thus, the above commands create the directory:


See the restore command as an alternative to extract that replaces the existing files rather than simply copying them into the current directory.


Show information about Emborg:

$ emborg help

You can ask for help on a specific command or topic with:

$ emborg help <topic>

For example:

$ emborg help extract


This command prints out the locations of important files and directories.

$ emborg info


Initializes a Borg repository. This must be done before you create your first archive.

$ emborg init


List available archives.

$ emborg list


Show the logfile from the previous run.

$ emborg log


Once a backup has been performed, you can list the files available in your archive using:

$ emborg manifest

If you do not specify an archive, as above, the latest archive is used.

You can explicitly specify an archive:

$ emborg manifest --archive continuum-2015-04-01T12:19:58

Or you can list the files that existed on a particular date using:

$ emborg manifest --date 2015-04-01

The manifest command provides a variety of sorting and formatting options. The formatting options are under the control of the manifest_formats setting. For example:

$ emborg manifest

This outputs the files in the order and with the format produced by Borg. The lines are green if the corresponding file is healthy, and red if it is broken (see Borg for more information on broken files).

$ emborg manifest -l
$ emborg manifest -n

These use the Borg order but change the amount of information shown. With -l the long format is used, which by default contains the size, the date, and the path. With -n the name is used, which by default contains only the path.


$ emborg manifest -S
$ emborg manifest -D

The first sorts the files by size. It uses the size format, which by default contains only the size and the path. The second sorts the files by modification date. It uses the date format, which by default contains the day, date, time and the path. More choices are available; run emborg help manifest for the details.

You can use files as an alias for manifest:

$ emborg files


Once a backup has been performed, you can mount it and then look around as you would a normal read-only filesystem.

$ emborg mount backups

In this example, backups acts as a mount point. If it exists, it must be a directory. If it does not exist, it is created.

If you do not specify a mount point, the value of default_mount_point setting is used if set.

If you do not specify an archive, as above, the most recently created archive is mounted.

You can explicitly specify an archive:

$ emborg mount --archive continuum-2015-04-01T12:19:58 backups

You can mount the files that existed on a particular date using:

$ emborg mount --date 2015-04-01 backups

Or, you can mount all the available archives:

$ emborg mount --all backups

You will need to un-mount the repository or archive when you are done with it. To do so, use the umount command.


Prune the repository of excess archives. You can use the keep_within, keep_last, keep_minutely, keep_hourly, keep_daily, keep_weekly, keep_monthly, and keep_yearly settings to control which archives should be kept. At least one of these settings must be specified to use prune:

$ emborg prune


This command is very similar to the extract command except that it is meant to be run in place. Thus, the paths given are converted to absolute paths and then the borg extract command is run from the root directory (/) so that the existing files are replaced by the extracted files.

For example, the following commands restore your .bashrc file:

$ cd ~
$ emborg restore .bashrc


This command displays all the settings that affect a backup configuration.

$ emborg settings

Add --all option to list out all available settings and their descriptions rather than the settings actually specified and their values.


Un-mount a previously mounted repository or archive:

$ emborg umount backups
$ rmdir backups

where backups is the existing mount point.

If you do not specify a mount point, the value of default_mount_point setting is used if set.


Prints the Emborg version.

$ emborg version