Which folders do I need to restore from a backup of my Ubuntu 11.10 installation to get the original state back except the harddisk change?


I installed Ubuntu 11.10 on my internal SSD-Disk (SATA,60GB) and used my sofware-RAID5 array (3 internal disks, SATA) only for backups. I backed up the whole SSD-Disk with Back-In-Time(root). Now my SSD-disk failed and I plugged in a new disk (120GB, SATA) instead. Then I installed Ubuntu from a live-CD again. Then I installed "mdadm" and "backintime" from software center. My RAID5 array wasn't shown in Nautilus and disk utilities, but I brought it back typing "sudo mdadm --assemble --scan" in a terminal window and mounting it in Nautilus afterwards. Backintime wasn't showing the snapshots until I changed the host name to the old name. Backintime now shows me following folders/files to restore:

  • bin
  • boot
  • cdrom
  • dev
  • etc
  • home
  • lib
  • lib32
  • lib64
  • lost+found
  • media
  • mnt
  • opt
  • proc
  • root
  • run
  • sbin
  • selinux
  • srv
  • sys
  • tmp
  • usr
  • var
  • !initrd.img
  • vmlinuz
  • initrd.img.old
  • vmlinuz.old

Then on my first try I restored every folder (which was a kind of silly, because it was deleting all the content of the excluded folder like "sys" instead of ignoring it). After rebooting, I got always the error "error: no such device: 3b45..." while booting and Ubuntu desktop didn't come up.

Then on my second try after reinstalling Ubuntu I restored everything except following folders:

  • /dev
  • /proc
  • /sys
  • /media
  • /mnt
  • /cdrom

But I still got the same error. Grub comes up, but then before showing the desktop it gets stuck with the same error message "error: no such device: 3b45...". So I installed Ubuntu from Live-Cd again.

Now the important question for my third try is: which file or folder must I exclude to get my machine running? That means all my personal data and installed programs and ubuntu-updates back as it was like before, except that I now have got a different hard disk.

My back-in-time-settings of my last backup: include "\", and excludes following folders/files:

  • .gvfs
  • /home//.mozilla/firefox/.default/Cache
  • /home//.mozilla/firefox/.default/OfflineCache
  • /home/*/.local/share/Trash
  • /dev/*
  • /proc/*
  • /tmp/*
  • /sys/*
  • /media/*
  • /mnt/*
  • /var/cache/*
  • .cache*
  • /lost+found/*
  • /var/tmp/*
  • /cdrom/*
  • [Cc]ache*
  • .thumbnails*
  • [Tt]rash*
  • .backup
  • *~
  • /root/Ubuntu One
  • .dropbox*

(It seems this list is faulty and incomplete, but I am just starting to learn Ubuntu. Next time I will delete the "/*" at the end of the ignored directories. More improvement suggestions of this list are welcome).

1 Answer 1


The error you experienced is because you restored your /etc/fstab file from your backup. Every partition has a unique identifier (uuid) which is used to mount the required root partition at boot time, even when the disk order has changed for some reason.

For a backup of settings in etc, you should be very selective and only backup things you changed manually. For normal backups I would recommend /home/* and run dpkg --get-selections > my-installed-apps and restore home and run dpkg --set-selections < my-installed-apps to restore everything.

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