Linux Backups

Hi Fred: In your letter, you’ve mentioned a number of useful links to Linux stuff. One thing I would like to know however, having installed SuSE about 6 weeks ago as my first venture in Linux, is HOW DO YOU MAKE A SYSTEM BACKUP IN LINUX? None of the standards like Drive Image and Ghost can even see the ReiserFS partition or contents.  I believe one of them in their latest addition has support for Ext3, but I am not sure. Any enlightenment in this area would be greatly appreciated.  A google search has produced nothing useful.

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I have been using Drive Image for 3 years now in Windows, after you told me that was what you were using, and I feel extremely vulnerable without any ability to back up the Linux partition. Thanks, Karl Tipple

I used to recommend Drive Image, Karl, but that was some time ago. My current recommendation, BootIt, is perfectly happy imaging FAT, FAT32, NTFS, Ext2, Ext3 and ReiserFS file systems; and can directly write images to hard drives or to CD-R/RW or DVD+R+RW-R-RW drives. It’s also a partition manager, letting you create/delete/copy/move/resize partitions at will; and it’s a boot manager, too! Thus, this one $35 tool can replace a separate boot manager, imaging tool, and partitioning tool; typically costing over $100, combined. And it’s vastly more flexible than any of the Windows-based backup/imaging/partitioning tools, because it’s OS independent. See this special issue for more info, including BootIt’s drawbacks: http://langa.com/newsletters/2003/2003-07-03.htm

OS-independent imaging (as above) is the gold standard of backups: Nothing beats it. But if you want a traditional backup solution for Linux, there are many offerings available, both free and commercial. For example, Linspire (formerly "Lindows") has this step-by-step guide that can be adapted to almost any version of Linux: http://langa.com/u/7f.htm

Plus, there are classic guides like this "Linux Complete Backup and Recovery HOWTO" ( http://www.linuxforum.com/linux-backup-recovery.php ); or animated guides like this IBM tutorial on "How to back up your Linux machines" ( http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/edu/l-dw-linuxbu-i.html ; registration required); and lots more general info:
http://www.google.com/search?q=linux+backup
http://groups-beta.google.com/groups?q=linux+backup

But again, a tool like BootIt works on *any* operating system, so it can back up whatever you’re running, including dual-boot or other setups.

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.