What about a manual?

Wow, it never occured to me to try that. I think that helps a lot–thanks.

Probably one of the biggest limitations right now for Duplicati is the lack of a thorough, up to date manual that helps the user along with little details like this, as well as step-by-step on some items. I realize that the program is still in development, the developers probably don’t have time to work on a manual which will be constantly changing, and that most of those who are following the program are more savvy (and multi-platform aware) than some users who might be interested but a bit perplexed by some stuff. Still, it I think it would help if people who stumble across Duplicati feel more invited to stay, or to consider coming back if things have not quite gelled for them. Having more description of what the program does and what to expect in the future would help build your audience.


Not sure how this should work, but for now I am trying to do this in terms of “how-to”'s (see #howto for progress). There is also a very bare-bones “getting started” guide here:

Maybe we should link to that article, or the how-to’s from the WebUI ?

I like the how-to’s link idea. Maybe the getting started link could be prominent in the space available when the are no backups added yet.

Yes, that would be a great place, something like:

Need help getting started?

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The how-to’s are good–thanks for sending me there, in fact I just found a thread that might address another issue I have, and I just posted there. I was thinking more of a step-by-step guide how to do various things. The Getting Started Guide seems essential for the basics, but as you said, it is really bare-bones. it would be good if there were more detail about specific issues one might run into, or perhaps links to threads at certain points in the Guide, to where that issue was gone into in detail.

I think I understand what you are requesting, but I have a hard time imagining what kinds of issues people have, and what kind of details are required.

In other words, if I were to write such guides, I would need some keywords or topics, and maybe I could write posts based on that.

I imagine you have your hands full just keeping up with the code writing you want to do and that people are requesting.

I wonder if the detailed guide or User’s Manual could start somehow as a community effort. Maybe some active users could draft guides on particular issues they had to figure out for themselves and they now feel they understand well enough to help others with it. Hopefully, they would have reasonable writing skills, of course, but they would submit their draft to you, and you would edit for accuracy, without having to do all the writing from scratch. Perhaps the first step would be to create an outline of what needs to be in such a manual–your suggested list of “keywords and topics”, then how it would be organized. Then people could pick topics to write about. This would be an interaction between users and you, so I’m not sure how it would go. It wouldn’t be a simple process, but maybe it could save you time and result in a more complete manual over time.

…In my vision, this evolves organically. If it just turns to chaos, I guess you just stop the train and get off for a while… :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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I think that’s the sticking point - were so close to the functionality that it’s hard to pretend we’re new users not knowing what to do.

Is this something you imagine living online or as part of the installation? Is it safe to assume command line users are less likely to need such content and less-techy GUI users are less likely to know how to dig through the forum?

Personally I think some well placed in-GUI links to a few of the YouTube videos people have made is a nice soft start for things like:

  • installing as a service and why you might want to
  • creating your first backup job to a USB drive
  • creating your first backup job to Amazon / S3
  • creating your first backup job to Google drive
  • choosing what to back up
  • applying backup filters
  • applying advanced backup filters
  • scheduling backups
  • manually running, pausing, and canceling backups
  • restoring files / doing a test restore
  • configuring notification emails
  • configuring advanced notification emails
  • exporting / importing backup jobs
  • seeing what was backed up / introduction to the command line interface
  • seeding backups / changing destinations
  • using the forum for support (including exporting tp command line)
    Etc., etc. :slight_smile:

I purposefully excluded anything related to “how to use the GUI” because if we have to explain it then the GUI needs to be updated.

@Bilateral: I fully agree with you. An extensive manual describing all features thoroughly might add much value to Duplicati.
I’m quite familiar with most features in Duplicati, but there are many options and features that I didn’t think of until reading about them by chance somewhere.

A good manual should describe the concepts, system requirements, installation, usage (first use/getting started/step by step), maintenance and all individual features. An extra section for all command line options should be added. This manual could be offered as a PDF or online (or both). A nice manual of another backup solution can be found here:

Backdraws of such a manual (and I think these are the main reasons why still no manual has been written) are:

  • Writing a manual is a very time consuming task. It should cover every feature that Duplicati offers. At the moment nobody seems to be available with enough time, writing skills and in-depth knowlegde.
  • Once completed, the manual should be maintained. New features should be added, changes in the software should be fixed in the documentation, screenshots should be updated etc.

Trying to develop a manual by the community sounds like a great idea. If there are enopugh volunteers who are willing to write one or more sections, I guess this would be the best option. However, I’m not sure if enough volumteers can be found who are willing to contribute.

But once complete, I suppose a lot of support requests can be answered by refering to a specific section the manual which might significantly save time. New users can be guided step by step with installing, configuring and using Duplicati. Advanced users can pull the most out of Duplicati by using the manual as a reference for tweaking advanced settings.
I believe this will help new and experienced users better than an inconsistent set of articles that describe very specific issues.

Don’t forget translations…or do we think an English only manual would be adequate for enough users?

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Ouch, that’s a good one!

Although translated versions are more than welcome for me, I suppose an English version should suffice for almost all users. This forum, all articles and the website are English-only too. The fact that people find, download, install and use it indicates that an English manual will serve most users.


It does seem like a daunting project. It has to start somewhere, though. I think if everyone waits until the software is perfected to start writing a manual, it will only get more daunting, and it may never get done. Would be better if it started now and could grow with the software. But it’s hardly brave of me to say so; I barely know the program yet, so I will not be writing any manual pages. But such a project would need a project manager to keep it moving along.

BTW, I’ll see if I can change the title of this thread to add the manual discussion to it.

Thanks for considering that, but at this point we’ll probably spilt the documentation discussion to it’s own topic so potential contributors aren’t bogged down reading non-manual stuff.

Good idea, I was hoping you would do that. I’ll try to keep an eye out for the new thread.

I’ve started creating a manual. It’s just a beginning, but may indicate how it will look like:


That looks like a great start and for now it’s good to have it in a document. But when it’s (almost) finalized I think it would be a good idea to publish it online on a webpage. That would make searching through it easier and that way multiple managers could be assigned to keep it up2date.

Maybe wiki style with readers suggestions that can be approved?

WOW! That’s more than just a start - well done!

Actually, I’m kind of liking the Syncthing online docs… I wonder what they use.

Just checked the source code, seems to me they use: http://www.mkdocs.org

Yes, that looks nice. The same idea as this or this manual.
Once complete, I suppose that the document with more or less effort could be converted to something like these online manuals. From that point, keeping the documentation up-to-date will become easier, because more than one person can be given access to it.

Thanks! Since MkDocs seems it makes static HTML any manual could (in theory) be packaged with Duplicati itself (thus helping avoid versioning issues).