Is there a way to save the "current state" of my TeX installation, the various packages etc. that allow a document to be compiled into a pdf at this moment? In a year or two, I'll probably have a lot of package updates, etc. and it's questionable whether all of my documents will re-compile in the same way. Is there some way to save a format that will allow an identical recompile, or to save a snapshot of my installation in some way, or some other method?

  • 5
    you can zip up your tex input tree, and if really paranoid, all the binaries as well, but actually most latex documents do workthe same way after 10 or 20 years. – David Carlisle May 17 '15 at 10:11
  • 2
    You can copy/move the relevant package files (.sty) to a different location in your computer or external HD. – Alenanno May 17 '15 at 10:11
  • 2
    But like David said, most cases won't have this problem. Also, many packages have the ability to support old features/behaviours (see pgfplots for example). – Alenanno May 17 '15 at 10:13
  • 2
    If you are really really paranoid, you would need to save your current operating system as well. This won't be a troublemaker within the next 2 years, but think of 50 years. Possible, that the OS then cannot run current TeX or you need some kind of emulator. – Johannes_B May 17 '15 at 10:20
  • 7
    There is in fact a package called snapshot, which can be combined with bundledoc and, if you like, arlatex to meet most or all of your needs. For example, see these two related answers: 1, 2. – jon May 17 '15 at 17:26

One solution you might want to consider is compiling your own format that includes all the packages you are using and keeping this special compiled format with your latex file. In this case, when packages get updated, you will still maintain the same state that you have now.

You can read about compiling styles here:

  1. Using mylatexformat with this how to, probably the easiest and least disruptive to your actual document file.
  2. This post, which requires to split your document into a static preamble and dynamic contents.

The good news is that, once you start compiling your preamble this way, you will tremendously save on compilation time of the document. This is the glorious of this technique. (I personalize use that, with externalization for tikz graphics and I can compile very complicated journal papers in less than 10s).

If you really feel paranoid about it, you might want to keep a snapshot of your tex and latex binaries along with their fonts.


You could try compiling within a virtual machine - popular "emulators" support open image formats, which could easily mean 10-15 years of support

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.