I'm in a strange situation.

Emacs automatically backup all of my files except for some of my orgmode files. And I can't understand why.

Do you have any idea how I can investigate and fix this?

  • 2
    What does C-h v backup-inhibited say when evaluated in the buffer of one of the files that don't get backed up? What does it say in other buffers?
    – NickD
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 20:15
  • Ghah! Me too! I found that something had set backup-inhibited to t (thanks @NickD) The only place I can see that being set is in ./elpa/org-plus-contrib-20181230/ox-odt.el. Maybe that's the culprit?
    – wef
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 1:27
  • ... and I can't seem to set it to nil in Local Variables - there must be something setting it to t as org-mode starts up. Maybe I can set it in a late-executing hook - I'll have time to investigate a bit later. On the other hand, maybe there's a good reason for it to be t???
    – wef
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 1:40
  • Thanks @wef that's exactly it. Why on earth does org-plus-contrib set backup-inhibited to t? If you happen to find a fix let us know.
    – Rene
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 8:01
  • @Rene - not quite. I concluded that it was vc-checkin in my case (please refer to my answer below and see if it's your use-case).
    – wef
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 8:16

2 Answers 2


If your org files are under version control (which I would recommend) then vc-checkin sets backup-inhibited to t. This makes sense as my .org files are all under version control and don't need the ~ backup. (I use Version Control Always and SRC - Simple Revision Control

If you really want the ~ backups as well, then M-: (setq-local backup-inhibited nil).

  • Enable the vc-make-backup-files user option to get normal backups despite version-control.
    – phils
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 2:40

The last time I ran into similar problems was when some of my file or directory names matched a magic variable which is supposed to prevent saving of unwanted things. In my particular case, the project's directory was called something like com.example.githook and the .git? matched completion-ignored-extensions. It's been a while, though, so I'm not 100% it was that variable.

So, while I can't explain why your files are not backed up, maybe this gives you a hint at what to search for: do the filenames of the files which are not backed up look suspicious?

  • well not really. My files names: home1819.org and office1819.org
    – Rene
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 14:11

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