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I have recently migrated from Windows XP to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and am trying to understand how to reproduce the functionality I used in Windows for backups, and if possible improve it.

I used to run Seagate Disc Wizard (re-badged Acronis I think) manually once a week to produce a full image backup of my disk on an NTFS external drive, while I continued using the system. This enabled me to restore the whole system in case of a disk crash or virus, and to access individual files simply if required. Of course any changes made since the backup would be lost but whole system restore was rare and I didn't mind that level of loss.

  1. I can't find any way in Linux to do a hot full-image backup – is that correct? Failing that I am planning on the following approach: Once a week back up all below / to the external drive using rsync. As required do an incremental backup using rsync. These backups will enable me to access individual files – from Linux or Windows. If I have to restore the whole system I will wipe the disk, recreate Ubuntu using the original distribution DVD and then use rsync to restore the whole lot below /.

  2. Will this approach restore the system to how it was at the last backup?

  3. Is there any problem overwriting everything below / while the system is live?
  4. Would there be any advantage to using Mondo Rescue or Clonezilla to create a copy of the “core” stuff? I don't expect disaster recovery to be required very often so speed is not of the essence, but I do want it to be straightforward and low stress :)

I have read quite a lot of the documentation and forum entries but am struggling a bit to understand these points. Any help would be appreciated.

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I have always just used rsync to backup my home directory to a NAS. I care only about my data. Installing Ubuntu and applications from repositories after a complete disaster is relatively easy anyway. You could consider using dd to copy the whole disk image if you wish, but I honestly think it's pointless in the Linux world.

Here are instructions (and a list of cloning software) for manual cloning: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Disk_Cloning

  • By enlarge I agree, data only backups in Linux are usually all that is needed. Though if you want a full system image backup to improve your recovery time objective you could ensure your Ubuntu install is using LVM so you can use its snapshot technology to do backups like that described on tldp.org/HOWTO/LVM-HOWTO/snapshots_backup.html – BeowulfNode42 Mar 29 '14 at 10:01
  • Thanks everyone for your replies. What I am trying to avoid in the event of a disaster is having to remember the details of all the software I added since installing Ubuntu, which would surely be the case if I just backup from /home downwards say. My previous experience in these situations is that it is very stressful and you don't think as well as normal, so you want everything to be as simple as possible. – user263061 Mar 31 '14 at 8:43

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