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I'm running an Ubuntu 9.10 Linux server. I'm trying to find a way to backup the machine while it is running and from what I see, this eliminates the disk clone utilities. All of the disk clone stuff I have seen for Linux requires that you reboot into a special live CD.

So my question is this, what is the best solution for backing up the system while it is running? Also, I don't really care about the OS config too much, I just want to be able to keep my stored files and my programs that I have installed on it.


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Hahaha! I think it is! But lets send this comment to /dev/null shall we? – BloodPhilia May 21 '10 at 5:29
Something tells me this needs a disclaimer, no idea why though – Ivo Flipse May 22 '10 at 5:59
For the uninitiated, the previous comments are jokes... sorry guys – wag2639 May 28 '10 at 23:47

The important directories are /etc, /home, /var, and /srv. You may want to add /root, and remove unneeded bits from /var.

rsync is good if you want the files to be directly accessible, tar is fine if you don't.

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Ok thanks for that info. Are there any disk clone backups that support "live" backups? Backups that don't require me to shutdown or deal physically with the server (such as put a CD in). – QAH May 21 '10 at 1:48
what should not be backed-up in /var ? – user01 Mar 14 '14 at 19:04
/var/cache is usually a biggie. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Mar 14 '14 at 22:49
@Ashesh: In the end it's up to the person performing the backup to determine which files are truly important to them. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 11 '15 at 19:15

I agree with Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams about /etc/ /home/ and some parts in /var/.

But don't forget to save a list of the installed packages, so you know what programs was installed...

dpkg --get-selections > dpkg.list
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I'm using backup2l to backup my Debian server (AFAIK Ubuntu is a derivate of Debian). If configured correctly it automates your backup, e.g. getting the dpkg selections, creating differential and incremental backups (depending on your settings) and storing it an an archive. A post backup hook triggers rsync which syncs my archive with a remote copy.

I'm backing up /etc /var (with some exclusions like caches), /root, /home. Just think about what you have changed in addition to that and add it to the list. I for instance dumy my sql databases in a special directory and save it, too.

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