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After searching this site, and reading the Ubuntu community documentation, I've decided to use a simple tar command such as

sudo tar -cvpzf serverbackupMMDDYYYY.tgz --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/sys --exclude=/media --exclude=/backups --exclude=/boot --exclude=/dev  --exclude=/home -exclude=/tmp --exclude=serverbackupMMDDYYYY.tgz / 

To backup my system. While researching how to backup my system it seemed some people recommended excluding /dev (as I'm doing above) and others warned that there could be problems doing that (but they didn't elaborate).

What are the pros and cons of including or excluding /dev in a backup?

I tested a full backup/restore and didn't run into any problems excluding /dev myself, but I also think I took more steps than necessary to restore. After inserting a non broken hard drive I reinstalled Ubuntu and then extracted the backup over the fresh install.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Some directories are irrelevant into a backup. For example:

  • /dev/*
  • /proc/*
  • /sys/*
  • /tmp/*
  • *lost+found

They are created during the boot, and are related specific with your devices and/or your running processes.

While its irrelevant to backup or not - your kernel will recreate those directories when boot from restored backup - you probably will save a little time if you do not backup it.

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  • None of the nodes in dev are real files, and none of them contain much that isn't generated.
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