I don't use any of the dedicated backup tools. For me, I just
want a full and exact copy that I could use to restore my system
if needed. Here's my backup strategy that works for me
(not just in theory, but in practice, I have had to use backups
First, I have on more than one occasion messed up my
Master Boot Record to the point where I can't boot my laptop.
I have learned the hard way to backup my working MBR so I can
restore it easily if needed.
as root, I do this to backup my MBR:
dd if=/dev/sda of=/boot/MBR bs=512 count=1
If I ever need to restore the MBR I can boot up the liveCD,
mount the root partition, and run
dd of=/dev/sda if=/mnt/boot/MBR bs=512 count=1
No matter what you decide to to about backing up your files, don't
forget about having some easy way to recover your MBR.
They are not the same thing.
On my laptop, I have 2 PClinuxOS partitions: root and home.
I have an external USB drive that I use only for backups and
temporary storage. On that external drive, I created ROOTBACKUP
and HOMEBACKUP partitions of the same size as on my laptop.
Every so often (and especially before I do a big update like
change the kernel), I connect up the external drive, mount
ROOTBACKUP and HOMEBACKUP, su to root, and use rsync to copy
the the root partition to ROOTBACKUP and home partition
to HOMEBACKUP like this:
rsync --delete -aHAXhxv / /mnt/ROOTBACKUP
rsync --delete -aHAXhxv /home/ /mnt/HOMEBACKUP
This makes an exact complete copy of my entire root (which includes the
/boot/MBR file created above) and entire home partitions. I know I'm
copying over some files that don't matter, but I don't care. I don't
want to have to decide what is important and what may not be important.
I've got more space on my external drive than I could ever use, and
I am perfectly happy to wait a few more seconds or minutes copying files
that I probably don't need to copy. I sleep well knowing I have a
complete and exact copy of a working system that I could use to restore
my laptop to exactly what it was before if I need to.
The first time you run it the rsync-s they take a while because every file
is copied. But in subsequent uses, only the changed files are processed
so they are really quick, no more than a few minutes.