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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?

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    rsync is good. wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Full_system_backup_with_rsync
    – Ramesh
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 3:04
  • What if a partition becomes corrupt somehow? From what I understand rsync is a fancy copy+paste tool. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 3:15
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    rsync is used to preserve the user permissions and other things as well which is why it is more better than copy + paste. From what I believe, you just want your system to be up immediately if it is crashing. You might want to have a script that automatically backs up the root partition to an external HDD. Then when the system crashes, you can restore it from the external HDD.
    – Ramesh
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 3:24
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    You might want to look into this question as well. unix.stackexchange.com/questions/114804/…
    – Ramesh
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 3:24
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    Also take a look at this one: unix.stackexchange.com/questions/41399/…
    – slm
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 3:34

1 Answer 1

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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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