Hi, and welcome to the Heliode guide to successful backing-up and
restoring of a Linux system!
Edited out: interesting but unneeded banter.
Edit: more banter
To do this, become root with
and go to the root of your filesystem (we use this in our example, but
you can go anywhere you want your backup to end up, including remote
or removable drives.)
Now, below is the full command I would use to make a backup of my
tar cvpzf backup.tgz --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found
--exclude=/backup.tgz --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/sys /
Edit add: The file you create will be very large. You may wish to direct this backup to an external device. If you do then change the
file name (backup.tgz) to /media/external-device/backup.tgz . Then,
exclude the /media directory ` --exclude=/media
Now, lets explain this a little bit. The 'tar' part is, obviously, the
program we're going to use.
'cvpfz' are the options we give to tar, like 'create archive'
(obviously), 'preserve permissions'(to keep the same permissions on
everything the same), and 'gzip' to keep the size down.
Next, the name the archive is going to get. backup.tgz in our example.
Next comes the root of the directory we want to backup. Since we want
to backup everything; /
Now come the directories we want to exclude. We don't want to backup
everything since some dirs aren't very useful to include. Also make
sure you don't include the file itself, or else you'll get weird
results. You might also not want to include the /mnt folder if you
have other partitions mounted there or you'll end up backing those up
too. Also make sure you don't have anything mounted in /media (i.e.
don't have any cd's or removable media mounted). Either that or
Well, if the command agrees with you, hit enter (or return, whatever)
and sit back&relax. This might take a while.
Afterwards you'll have a file called backup.tgz in the root of your
filessytem, which is probably pretty large. Now you can burn it to DVD
or move it to another machine, whatever you like!
EDIT2: At the end of the process you might get a message along the lines of 'tar: Error exit delayed from previous errors' or something,
but in most cases you can just ignore that.
Alternatively, you can use Bzip2 to compress your backup. This means
higher compression but lower speed. If compression is important to
you, just substitute the 'z' in the command with 'j', and give the
backup the right extension. That would make the command look like
tar cvpjf backup.tar.bz2 --exclude=/proc --exclude=/lost+found
--exclude=/backup.tar.bz2 --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/sys /
2: Restoring (In this case, after you do a full install. Make sure to use the same version of install disk as the system you are
Warning: Please, for goodness sake, be careful here. If you don't understand what you are doing here you might end up overwriting stuff
that is important to you, so please take care!
Once again, make sure you are root and that you and the backup file
are in the root of the filesystem.
One of the beautiful things of Linux is that This'll work even on a
running system; no need to screw around with boot-cd's or anything. Of
course, if you've rendered your system unbootable you might have no
choice but to use a live-cd, but the results are the same. You can
even remove every single file of a Linux system while it is running
with one command. I'm not giving you that command though!
Well, back on-topic. This is the command that I would use:
tar xvpfz backup.tgz -C /
Or if you used bz2;
tar xvpfj backup.tar.bz2 -C /
WARNING: this will overwrite every single file on your partition with the one in the archive!
Just hit enter/return/whatever and watch the fireworks. Again, this
might take a while. When it is done, you have a fully restored Ubuntu
system! Just make sure that, before you do anything else, you
re-create the directories you excluded:
mkdir proc mkdir lost+found mkdir mnt mkdir sys etc...
And when you reboot, everything should be the way it was when you made
2.1: GRUB restore Now, if you want to move your system to a new harddisk or if you did something nasty to your GRUB (like, say,
install Windows), You'll also need to reinstall GRUB. There are
several very good howto's on how to do that here on this forum, so i'm
not going to reinvent the wheel. Instead, take a look here.
There are a couple of methods proposed. I personally recommend the
second one, posted by remmelt, since that has always worked for me.