Restoring files from an Babel Impression backup

A few years ago I purchased a backup program called Impression from Babel Software, written by Steve Elliot. He had sold the program and development rights to another company,, which appears to have gone out of business. So never trust your backups to a company which doesn’t have some kind of code escrow and fiduciary accountability. Anyhoo, here’s how to restore from an impression backup:
1) Manually copy each file tree to a hard drive, recreating the file structure
2) For files which have been split in the archiving process:
– join the pax files using this command: cat file1.pax.part_a file1.pax.part_b file1.pax.part_c > outputfile.pax
– unarchive the pax file: pax -r -f outputfile.pax
3) Pax will recreate the file hierarchy of the original file in the directory you expanded to. So look for a folder in the current directory called Volumes (the top of the original file tree) and your file will be nested in there. Just restore it to the original location.

Alternately use hfspax, available here.

Use these instructions, which were included in the Impression backup:

The ‘Archive.imps’ folder is an OS X package that contains each file that was archived in ‘(hfs)pax’ format, as well as a catalog containing information about the files. The archived files are contained within a directory structure that mirrors the original one from which the files came.

To list extended information on files from an archive:
hfspax -v -f /path/to/archived_file.pax

To restore files from a (hfs)pax archive to a location of your choosing:
cd /directory/of/your/choice && hfspax -r -f /path/to/archived_file.pax

To restore files from a (hfs)pax archive to their default location without overwriting existing files:
cd / && hfspax -r -f /path/to/archived_file.pax -k

To restore files from a (hfs)pax archive to their default location without overwriting existing files while preserving all file permissions (useful if running the command with su or sudo access):
cd / && hfspax -r -f -pe /path/to/archived_file.pax -k

To restore files from a (hfs)pax archive to their default location (and overwrite any files in place!):
cd / && hfspax -r -f /path/to/archived_file.pax

To take a file split across two disks and restore it (.part_a and .part_b files), use the following commands to address the issue:
cd /directory/of/your/choice
cat path/to/archived_file.part_a path/to/archived_file.part_b | hfspax -r -v

To check a freshly restored file’s integrity, use the following command to generate a checksum and then compare it to the one recorded (if present) in the archive content list at the time of the backup:
md5 -q /path/to/

3 comments on “Restoring files from an Babel Impression backup
  1. S. Elliott says:

    Is Impression’s ‘restore’ tab functionality not working for you? It should restore files from the .pax and .imps formatted backups you’ve made without the command-line work.

    I’m pretty sure I enabled Impression to perform full restores even from unregistered copies, just in case someone loses/misplaces their license key.

  2. jim says:

    Hi Steve – thanks for commenting. I think when I had this problem I did not have a copy of the Impression software, and couldn’t find a place to download it.

  3. S. Elliott says:

    Aha, I understand. Oh well, that’s why I included those command-line instructions – just to cover such an event. While not the most easy on the eyes, those restoration steps should still prove functional.

    I trust you’ve found a complete copy of Impression for your needs; I apologize for the fact that I no longer have any to distribute.

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