I have a system which runs an arcade machine. It has the regular swap and root partitions, but then I have an extra partition which I call data. Data holds many gigabytes of game content.

The idea is that if anything goes wrong with the Linux system, I should be able to restore it from a backup and leave /data intact.

My question is, what utility is best to backup and restore just the Linux system partitions? Can I just use dd to make an image of /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2, for example? What about the MBR - Master Boot Record?


For simple copying, using rsync to copy to your backup medium, as mentioned in the comments, is sufficient. If you want versioned backups and easier control, rsnapshot is a good choice.

However, for a system partition, there's often an easier option. Since most of the data comes unmodified from your distro's repositories, you can usually manage by simply backing up /etc, /var, and the list of installed packages (which is probably in /var).

Note that none of this will back up the MBR, but on a Linux system, MBR corruption usually results from a failed hard drive.

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