borg diff

borg [common options] diff [options] ARCHIVE1 ARCHIVE2 [PATH...]

positional arguments






paths of items inside the archives to compare; patterns are supported



only consider numeric user and group identifiers


Override check of chunker parameters.


Sort the output lines by file path.

--format FORMAT

specify format for differences between archives (default: “{change} {path}{NL}”)


Format output as JSON Lines.


Only compare differences in content (exclude metadata differences)

Common options

Include/Exclude options

-e PATTERN, --exclude PATTERN

exclude paths matching PATTERN

--exclude-from EXCLUDEFILE

read exclude patterns from EXCLUDEFILE, one per line

--pattern PATTERN

include/exclude paths matching PATTERN

--patterns-from PATTERNFILE

read include/exclude patterns from PATTERNFILE, one per line


This command finds differences (file contents, metadata) between ARCHIVE1 and ARCHIVE2.

For more help on include/exclude patterns, see the borg help patterns command output.

The FORMAT specifier syntax

The --format option uses python’s format string syntax.


$ borg diff --format '{content:30} {path}{NL}' ArchiveFoo ArchiveBar
modified:  +4.1 kB  -1.0 kB    file-diff

# {VAR:<NUMBER} - pad to NUMBER columns left-aligned.
# {VAR:>NUMBER} - pad to NUMBER columns right-aligned.
$ borg diff --format '{content:>30} {path}{NL}' ArchiveFoo ArchiveBar
   modified:  +4.1 kB  -1.0 kB file-diff

The following keys are always available:

  • NEWLINE: OS dependent line separator

  • NL: alias of NEWLINE

  • NUL: NUL character for creating print0 / xargs -0 like output

  • SPACE: space character

  • TAB: tab character

  • CR: carriage return character

  • LF: line feed character

Keys available only when showing differences between archives:

  • path: archived file path

  • change: all available changes

  • content: file content change

  • mode: file mode change

  • type: file type change

  • owner: file owner (user/group) change

  • group: file group change

  • user: file user change

  • link: file link change

  • directory: file directory change

  • blkdev: file block device change

  • chrdev: file character device change

  • fifo: file fifo change

  • mtime: file modification time change

  • ctime: file change time change

  • isomtime: file modification time change (ISO 8601)

  • isoctime: file creation time change (ISO 8601)


$ borg diff archive1 archive2
    +17 B      -5 B [-rw-r--r-- -> -rwxr-xr-x] file1
   +135 B    -252 B file2
added           0 B file4
removed         0 B file3

$ borg diff archive1 archive2
{"path": "file1", "changes": [{"type": "modified", "added": 17, "removed": 5}, {"type": "mode", "old_mode": "-rw-r--r--", "new_mode": "-rwxr-xr-x"}]}
{"path": "file2", "changes": [{"type": "modified", "added": 135, "removed": 252}]}
{"path": "file4", "changes": [{"type": "added", "size": 0}]}
{"path": "file3", "changes": [{"type": "removed", "size": 0}]}