I realise that there are many similar questions like this but I have not found one that answers my explicit query.

I am still using Linux Fedora 20, and it is well past the time when I should upgrade to the latest version. I have started using Deja Dup for backup of my /home directory on to an external one terabyte hard drive; my question is, please, what other directories should I backup as well before I start the installation?

  • Why do a backup specifically before upgrading? Your backup process should be happening regularly and automatically. You do have backups right ? – Criggie Dec 26 '16 at 22:16

For /etc, use etckeeper. It stores /etc under version control, taking care of preserving permissions and ownership. Before an upgrade, make sure that you've committed the latest changes, and set a tag (e.g. git tag fedora20-before-upgrade).

Also make a list of all the packages you currently have installed (rpm -ql >/var/tmp/fedora20-package-list.txt). That could be useful if the upgrade ends up removing some package to make dependencies work.

Other than that, there isn't anything that's especially at risk during upgrades. Home directories and local installations (e.g. under /usr/local) should not be touched, and the rest of the system should be managed by the upgrade. Of course, like any other time, you should have up-to-date backups in case something unexpected happens.


I do use Debian, so I can't give you any distribution specific hints. Anyway, before upgrading my system, I usually backup:

  • /home
  • /etc
  • /usr/local (unless I have it on a dedicated partition)
  • the list of all installed packages (which I can generate with dpkg and apt, so I am expecting you can do the same with yum or rpm)

I would also suggest to read the relase notes for your distribution; it should outline all the steps you need to perform before starting the upgrade (backup included).

  • 2
    Just a note: you can backup /etc for using as a reference in the new installationm but never restore these backed up files in this folder blindly after an upgrade. Many things change from version to version, including versions and formats of many config files (with new options, deprecation of others, etc, so you will probably in trouble if you do so. – Marcelo Dec 25 '16 at 12:56
  • Excellent list. I also backup /root as a matter of course, and anything that didn't come from a distro-supplied package. So I back up /mnt//shared but would not get /mnt/junk – Criggie Dec 26 '16 at 22:18

I would also include /var.

certainly, wholesale replacement of /var directly in new install would not be advised, but a lot of important user/admin files you will be stored there:


to name a few.

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