Recommended directories for a full system backup

Asked by seanmc on 2009-04-17

I recently lost my Ubuntu system, and I was trying to find out if there would be a recommended list of directories to backup so I may be able to completely restore my system should my computer utterly die again.

Any suggestions?

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Craig Huffstetler (xq) said : #1

One of the main directories to backup a lot of personal settings, that I always recommend to people, is to *always* backup:


This is one of the easiest directories to backup and it holds a lot of the information you need (preferences for Firefox, you Firefox and Thunderbird extensions, bookmarks, Back in Time settings, SSH keys, and I could go on and on). Basically, it's all of your user data and preferences for the programs. It's probably the most important to you.

Your settings are stored in hidden directories. So, you don't see them. Press CTRL + H in Nautilus (the file browser) in Gnome to see them. You'll see how valuable /home is after this, perhaps.

Next up, let me give you an explanation and you can decide for yourself on the various other directories.


This is where your system data is being stored. *Most* users do not touch this after an install. However, if you are a power user, you may alter it. If you alter it (such as your repositories), you may consider backing it up. This is far less crucial on home systems than, well, /home.


"Other" user data, if you are running Apache or other daemons, can be kept in this directory. This is where it is served out of. You may want to keep a back up of it if you use such processes or if you have much data in it. Otherwise, there is no need if you use /home for this purpose.


This is where all of your logs are kept. Back it up if you need access to logs, etc. Logs are more important to server administrators and I.T. specialists in case of system crashes, but perhaps not the home user if you just want to simply restore your system, reinstall applications and have them working as they were before (we're back to just restoring /home).

--- Last important step: Make sure to store /home on a separate drive, partition or even on another network location! This will save you the trouble just in case you have a very bad crash and need to migrate data to a brand new P.C.

Some reading material:

I hope this helps.


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