I need some help understanding the fundamentals of backups in Linux. Unfortunately my only experience with backup / restore is in MacOS with Time machine where everything just magically happens.

My use case

I have a 500 GB hard drive with only Fedora 35 installed. I would like to reconfigure the system to dual boot Fedora and Ubuntu, so I need to reformat / partition the hard drive. I would like to keep the Fedora half essentially as it is now, so I need to back everything up and restore it after I reinstall Fedora 35 on a smaller partition.

As I search for answers I see a lot of threads about the different tools that are available to help with backups, but this time I would like to do it manually to learn a little more about the process and Linux.

My questions

How naive is my assessment of the manual backup / restore process?

  1. Copy the directories outlined in this article to a USB drive
  2. Reinstall Fedora 35
  3. Overwrite the directories with the backups from the USB drive (presumably you can't just do this while the freshly installed OS is running?)
  4. Success, the OS had been restored and works just like it does now

Assuming my above assessment is correct, is this essentially the same process for other non-Fedora distros?

This seems too simple, what am I missing?

Thanks in advance!

  • Are you using LVM, standard partitions and or other formats. Ubuntu uses ext4 with standard partitions but can use LVM. If you installed server apps those would be in / (root). But user settings are in /home and typically all your data. If dual booting you may want smaller / and then larger shared data partition(s). Data can easily be shared if same user (1000). Can be same drive: askubuntu.com/questions/1013677/…
    – oldfred
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 19:09
  • @oldfred, thanks for the response. I dont think im using LVM. I just did a basic Fedora install on my laptop on the entire 500GB SSD. I believe my current filesystem is btrfs. Can you comment at all on my understanding of the manual backup process? Or do you know of any good resources for understanding this? My searches have come up empty. Commented Apr 2, 2022 at 0:25
  • I use Ubuntu and only backup a list of installed apps, /home & my data which is in another partition than /home as I have multiple Ubuntu installs. I use ext4, and do not know nor understand btrfs and its sub-volumes. I just rsync to various flash drives & another system and most critical data is written to DVDs. askubuntu.com/questions/2596/comparison-of-backup-tools
    – oldfred
    Commented Apr 2, 2022 at 2:31

1 Answer 1


This answer to this question by Donatom provided the guidance I needed. The instructions are not idiot proof (I messed a couple things up along the way) but in the end it helped me to understand the Linux backup process better than any other resource I could find and guided me to a successful backup, repartitioning, and reinstallation of my Fedora setup onto a smaller disk partition.

In short, the spirit of the process I describe in my question is kinda correct, but Donatom provides very practical instructions and commands for actually getting it done.

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