How to Backup Obsidian

If you spend much time in Obsidian, then you’re going to want to make sure that your work is preserved. You don’t want to risk losing all that work due to a faulty hard drive, a network glitch, or even your own error. Accidents happen, and you need to be prepared.

I had my own accident happen recently, and my backup system saved me.

The best way to ensure your work is preserved is to backup Obsidian. That means creating at least one other copy of your vaults on another source, apart from your main computer. This way if something goes wrong with your computer, you have an extra copy of those files. Even if you have a worst-case scenario and you lose all the files on your computer, you won’t have to sweat it, because you have them on another source.

What does a good backup system look like?

There are five things I look for when assessing a backup system:

  1. Ease of use: backups should happen automatically if possible
  2. Sync speed: you want “current” backups, they should be as similar to your working vault as possible
  3. Safety: how many copies of your backup are you creating? What happens if both your computer and your backup are corrupted?
  4. Ownership: do you own your data, or does someone else?
  5. Cost: how much does it cost to create or maintain this system?

You probably have different priorities than I do, so you have to decide how important each one of these factors is to you. For instance, I cherish owning my data, but I probably care about that more than most people.

In any case, we’ll go through a few different systems and rank them based on these five different factors. The “best” system is the system that fits your goals. How you ultimately decide to backup Obsidian is entirely up to you.

Easiest backup system

The easiest backup system uses a tool you already have: your file system. Many people backup Obsidian by making copies of their vault. To do this, open your system file explorer, copy the folder that contains your vault, and paste it onto a flash drive or some other external drive. Then you should rename it: it’s not a bad idea to use a date, e.g. “2022-07-14-myvault”.

This system is quick and relatively easy. The problem is that it’s not automated, and after a while, you’re likely to forget to do it. It’s also a pretty heavy solution: since you’re duplicating your entire vault every time, this solution will take up more storage space than most other solutions. This may not be a big deal if you have a small vault, but as your vault grows, you may need to look into a more efficient solution.

Here’s how I rank this solution:

Ease of useSync speedSafetyOwnershipPrice
A+DFA+A+ (free!)

This is better than nothing, but it’s only good if you do it consistently. If you lose your vault and your latest backup was a month ago, you’ll be kicking yourself for not trying out one of these other solutions.

Automated Backup Systems

Many backup systems save your whole hard drive, such as Carbonite, EaseUS, and others. Since they back up your whole computer, they will also take care of backing up your Obsidian files.

They’re usually more expensive than the other solutions on this list, and not always super safe—I’ve had multiple friends whose backups were corrupted on these types of systems. If you use this type of system, I recommend checking your backups at least once a month. But they are very convenient, and they give you great peace of mind.

Ease of useSync speedSafetyOwnershipPrice

Set it and forget it systems

The next easiest solution also automatically saves your files in the background. But unlike the automated solution above, these systems usually only backup a single folder on your computer, which means they’re usually more affordable. You can place your Obsidian files inside this folder, and it will automatically backup Obsidian for you every time you change your files.

Ease of useSync speedSafetyOwnershipPrice

Syncing systems are pretty easy to use, and they work automatically. You install a program, sign up for an account, drop your Vault into their special syncing folder, and the app will do the rest. As long as you have their app running in the background, your files are backed up.

They also usually have generous free tiers. Most people could probably store all of their notes for free this way.

The bad news is that you don’t usually know if your files are backed up multiple times or not. The safety of your data is in the hands of the company you choose. Similarly, your privacy may be at risk, because many companies will comb through your files and potentially sell your data.

The most feature-rich syncing service is the one built by the Obsidian team, Obsidian Sync. Obsidian Sync is one of the best options in this category, but it has no free tier. Also, it only works for Obsidian, you can’t store other files there.

Other file syncing services are:

If you want to trade a little security for more privacy, there are a few more obscure services that offer end-to-end encryption. These are a little riskier because they could be abandoned or go out of business, but for now, they seem safe:

Most versatile backup systems

If you have a little more technical expertise, you might want to consider a version-controlled backup system. This is what I chose because I like the versatility.

The most common version control system is called “git”, and people commonly store their Obsidian Vaults in Git Repositories, and host them on a platform called Github. This is a very versatile and safe system if you know what you’re doing (or if you’re willing to learn something new!)

Here’s my ranking for this system:

Ease of useSync speedSafetyOwnershipPrice

This system is incredibly versatile, and it allows you to modify the above rankings in any way that you like. For instance, you could make it safer by using two different sync services, and git would allow you to push to both simultaneously, making it no more difficult to use. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can get all A+ rankings here. That is not possible with any of the other methods above.

If you want to try this, here’s a tutorial to get you started: Backing up your Obsidian Vault on Github (for free!).

If you want to improve that ownership metric, you can host a git repo yourself (this is personally my favorite solution).

Backing up with plugins

There aren’t a lot of backup options yet in the plugin community, but there are a couple. Both of them fit into categories we’ve already talked about: one is a git solution, the other a Dropbox solution.

Obsidian Git automates the commit messages, it’s a good solution if you want an automated version control backup system.

Remotely Save is another plugin solution that looks excellent. It supports many different sync services (such as Amazon S3 and Dropbox) and also supports end-to-end encryption. Some say Remotely Save is good for working with small groups too.

Obsidian Dropbox Backups is a little different: it’s a combination of our first two methods. It’s an automated way to create time stamped backups in Dropbox. It will automatically copy your whole vault over to Dropbox every twenty minutes. Similar to our first solution, this may be good for smaller vaults, but I would stay away from it if your vault is very large: with a big vault it would be a very messy and heavy solution.

You can install either of these plugins from the “Community Plugins” tab in Obsidian.

If you haven’t tried any of the amazing community plugins offered in Obsidian yet, here’s how to do that.


If you work with very many notes, you need to learn how to backup Obsidian.

Building a good backup system should be a top priority. We’ve covered many different methods for backing up Obsidian, and hopefully one of these methods will work well for you.

5 responses to “How to Backup Obsidian”

  1. I used o use a utility called Komodo Backup which ran on my PC, it let you identify a list of directories, and it would monitor them for changes and as they discovered them (I think it could be done really frequently or just every 5 to 15 minutes or more depending on how much you want the checking to happen) and it would follow an action you defined (most of the time just to move it to another drive on your machine or to a network drive (that may be in your own network perimeter, but I think there may have been some options to reach beyond the local environment). It was great because it didn’t need an external outside platform to be involved.

    The fear of just copying the Obsidian vault and then getting slack is also dealt with easily by a shell script that runs at a frequency you require and it copies the vault to where you say to. (Probably within a local network or onto a different drive).

    I have issues with CMSes or Repository systems. I got burned by SVN. It was told to me that it was great because the directories contained everything, but after a drive blew to bits, the server I was using locally was unable to be executed (the OS was toast) and I did manage to pull the SVN directories, but that didn’t help. There’s a crypto key the SVN server caches somewhere (unknown) and I never had a copy of that key that I ever recall. So I have all the data, but can’t get at it.

    Had a similar but slightly different problem with using a TrueCrypt for storing stuff. I was too careful with never writing down key passwords. For a long time it wasn’t an issue, but I decided to pull Crypts from multiple machines together and figured they needed different passwords with a decently complex construction for the passwords. That said, I then hit a stint of 6 months where I did not use anything related to the Crypts and when I went to get back in, I could only get into a few of them. I still have the Crypts but I ran a cracking algorithm (Mounting with generated passwords with some hinting) and after 4 days on a fast multi-processor system, I hadn’t yet got a successful open. My passwords are pretty secure and I could have a system running for months to crack one or longer. And just the storing of the attempted passwords was eating up disk space like mad (left alone, the machine’s storage would have swamped).

    With that approach, I’ve reverted to the ‘array of disks’ (JBOD) approach. Just have your files sent a bunch of places and if one goes wonky, another could well be fine. And there’s no hinky software that might change, might go obsolete, and so on to limit your ability to reopen an old file. And you can write your own shell scripts to fire up the backup, to resolve any conflicts, and so on. If you know Perl, you can certainly do the that in a Perl script. You can also monitor your backups for integrity, etc. But this does require some scripting ability or patience to learn it.

    For offsite aspect, one of my friends who worked in Crypto for our government and several large Crypto companies (and now is the VP of a Crypto security appliance company) does it like this:

    Script zips up the file tree sections you need to repository. It can add time stamping and other markers. Then, because he does not trust any external platform (possibilities of insider attacks or exterior hacks or even unscrupulous action by the platform itself), he uses a tool to encrypt the zipped archive. In his case, he wrote his own to ensure a high level of entropy in the random number generator, but there are other decent file encryptors that can be fired up from a script. When that’s done, he sends the encrypted blob to Amazon Web Storage and they also put another layer of crypto on top (but if my friend’s crypto is as solid as it is, that won’t really add much, it just comes with the service). So thus he has repositories in AWS he can pull down if something happens to his laptop and his office computer (server).

    There’s lots of ways to protect and disaster-proof your work that leaves you in the driver’s seat and in full control of your intellectual property.

    1. Great thoughts Tom, thanks for commenting! A lot of food for thought here.

      I agree with your sentiment: this article was targeted towards beginners and those who don’t have much experience backing up their work. My thought is that *any* backup is better than no backup, and the best choice is to go with the most private solution that the individual is comfortable with.

  2. One problem with automated backup systems is that if you delete a file in your working vault by mistake, that file is going to be deleted in your backup at some point, possibly in the near future. If you’re out on the road using Obsidian on your phone, and don’t have control over your automated backups while you’re away, you lose the file.

    I use FreeFileSync at the end of each day, backing up onto an SSD, and once a week backing up onto two mirrored hard drives. I haven’t lost a file yet. Touch wood.

    1. Good point Garry! I have run into that trouble with my own automated backups. (although I more often accidentally save files that I didn’t mean to save)

      Your system sounds like a good one. My only concern is no backups throughout the day: you could potentially lose a day of work, but no more than that, which is good. Well done!

      I also haven’t heard of FreeFileSync before, that looks nice.

  3. I use syncthing on my phone and on my mac to synchonize the vault folder.
    It works well until now, I don’t know if I am missing something, but it’s a good alternative I guess.
    The problem is syncthing is not available on iOS as I know.

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