Restoring Crontab from Backup in Linux

Linux, being an open-source operating system, offers a wealth of features that help system administrators to automate their routine tasks. One of these features is the Cron utility, which allows you to schedule tasks, called ‘cron jobs’, to run periodically at fixed times, dates, or intervals. But what happens if you accidentally lose all your cron jobs due to some mishap? This is where having a backup of your crontab file comes in handy. This article aims to guide you on how to restore crontab from backup in Linux.

Understanding Crontab

The term ‘crontab’ is a blend of ‘cron table’, and it is a configuration file that specifies shell commands to run periodically on a given schedule. The crontab command opens this configuration file for editing and also allows users to install, uninstall or list tabular data to their cron jobs.

In a Linux system, each user has their own crontab file, located at ‘/var/spool/cron/crontabs/’. However, you need to be cautious, as this directory should not be touched directly.

Creating a Backup of Crontab

Before we proceed to the restoration process, let’s discuss creating a backup first. It’s always a good practice to periodically back up your crontab files. You can create a backup of your crontab entries using the following command:

crontab -l > crontab-backup.txt 

This command will back up your current crontab entries to a file named ‘crontab-backup.txt’. The ‘>’ operator redirects the output of ‘crontab -l’ (which lists your cron jobs) to ‘crontab-backup.txt’. Make sure to store this file in a safe location.

Restoring Crontab from Backup

If you accidentally delete your crontab entries or they get lost or corrupted, and you have a backup available, you can restore your crontab file using the following command:

crontab crontab-backup.txt

This command tells crontab to read the contents of ‘crontab-backup.txt’ and install them into your crontab file. Once you run this command, all the previous entries that you had saved in your backup file are now restored to your crontab.

Validating the Restoration

To ensure that the restoration process was successful, you can list the entries in your crontab file by using the following command:

crontab -l

If the restoration was successful, you should see all your previous cron jobs listed.


To safeguard against data loss, it’s a good idea to regularly back up your crontab files. With the help of a few simple commands, you can both back up and restore your cron jobs easily, thereby ensuring that your scheduled tasks continue to run as expected.

Remember, the key to avoiding data loss is preparedness. Regular backups can save you time and stress, especially when dealing with crucial automation tasks that are run through cron jobs.

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