I've tried making backups using the default tools in my Linux distro (Mint 17.3), and I seem to have run into a problem. It took me awhile to figure out why, but apparently it's trying to follow some of my links, which point to various places on the root drive and tries to back them up too. Considering that my /home/$USER folder is currently several hundred GB in size, my last backup was nearly ago, and my disk was under heavy use for awhile due to a known issue with ASRock mobos spamming the logfiles, I'm a bit concerned for the safety of my data and would like to get started soon.
I've tried the GUI tool and I've tried
7z (no flags on any because I don't know which ones to use and the man pages can be pretty dense), but I don't know what other ways there are of doing this that I haven't tried. If it matters, the links I know it's hanging on were created by POL and Steam (I can't tell you whether they're hard, soft, or symbolic), though I think there are others that will mess it up too. The source and destination drives are both EXT4, though I experienced the same problem when the destination drive was an NTFS.
Clearly, the reason the operation is aborting due to a permission error when trying to access / . However, even if I was to run this as root, the backup operation would simply find its way back to / and recursively back everything up until my external drive is full. I need some way to prevent it from following links, but to just copy them as-is.
I just need a simple archive of my home folder I can copy back over if my current hard drive dies. I don't need a bootable backup, my system settings are only lightly modified and is easy to get back in order if I need to reinstall. The best solution is something I already have, the next-best would be free software in the repos, the next best would be a source-distributed free software tool, and if none of those are available, a trusted commercial tool of some sort.