I have deja-dup, and it is currently set by default to backup only my HOME directory.

I'm about to upgrade my OS from 16.04 to 18.04 and am advised to 'take a backup'.

I'm dubious that just backing up my HOME directory is sufficient; but I also don't think I have room to backup everything under ROOT.

So please can someone advise me the minimum I should back up in case the upgrade fails? That is, what directories I should back up.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? What directories should I backup before a clean install of Ubuntu 20.04?. This would also apply to an upgrade from one LTS to another. – 24601 Jan 10 at 12:22
  • very usual question, answer depends on what you might lose or ehat you expect. I personally do either an image of the partitions (root, boot, home, if you have them distinct) or I do a tar for each partition to save tha data. Similar but not the same. Both normally enables me to just return to the old state without thinking. Flatten the new stuff, dump the backup back and go. This is a wide approach and it needs two or three hours experience with dd and tar. Nothing you can not learn. If only data in your home (e.g. letters and downloads) is your concern img- method would be overkill. – opinion_no9 Jan 10 at 19:06
  • If you only ask for what directories to save: Choose the ones you have put data into! This data will at no known circumstances be lost anyways ... if you intend to turn back and reverse the whole upgrade you better take images of the entire disk. Then you can put the "good" old stuff back in place and continue at the point when everything was OK. – opinion_no9 Jan 10 at 19:12

Your personal data, once lost, is lost forever. For that reason, you should, at any time, have a good backup (preferably a few) anytime. That is the only data you need to worry about. All the other data on your OS is replaceable and repairable.

So you are good if you have backup copies of your Documents, Movies, etc. folders. Applications typically create hidden folders in your home folder to store configuration data. In some cases, there also may be data there you want to keep. For example, if you archive local mail in for example Thunderbird, you will also need to backup the data under $HOME/.thunderbird/<your profile>.default-release/Mail/Local Folders.

In summary, just backing up your home folder, including the hidden configuration data of software, is already more than sufficient. You are fully covered as soon as you have a good backups of your personal user files.

  • Please add something: besides making backups you also need to regulary check you are capable of restoring said backup. – Rinzwind Jan 10 at 12:59
  • @Rinzwind, the term "good backup" would imply this - it is not within scope to expand on the details of good backup strategies. – vanadium Jan 10 at 13:09

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