MandrivaThis Forum is for the discussion of Mandriva (Mandrake) Linux.
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My backup methodology is similar to salasi's with the exception that I burn a set of images to disk for each of my partitions following installation and configuration of the most current Mandriva release (to facilitate restoration of my original system if the need should arise).
I make a weekly (dated) image of each of my system partitions to reduce the volume of software updates in the event of disaster.
I run a daily incremental backup of my /home partition and my /etc directory so if disaster should strike, I lose no more than a days work.
Your needs may vary, but this system works well for me. I am never more than about an hour from a usable system fully configured and back to what I had before disaster struck. This system has saved my bacon on one occasion, and permitted me to recover inadvertently deleted files several times (I do not use KDE's trashcan).
You don't want to include /tmp, /var/tmp, /mnt, /proc, dev/pts or /media in your backup.
You can use dd to create a backup of the MBR. There may also be an MBR backup in /boot/. Also use "sudo /sbin/fdisk -l" to display the partition tables of all of the drives and print out the result. It can be used to manually restore a partition table if you need to.
This will backup the bootstrap loader and the partition table. You can reverse the process if you have to replace the drive or the partition table becomes corrupted.
It might be a good idea to backup the /home partition separately. That will allow you to backup your personal files and if later you perform a fresh install or install a different distro, you can restore files from your backup.
A backup program I like is kdar. It is a kde front end to the dar program. DAR stands for Disk ARchive. It is like tar but will produce a backup slices that you can burn to CD or DVD. You can use the GUI front end to configure what to backup, and use handy drop down items to exclude certain items from backup, or to exclude certain filetypes from compression. After you are done configuring, you can export the job to a shell script. This is especially handy because you can later configure an incremental backup and run that periodically as a cron job. This works best if you save the slices to a network share or an external drive if an incremental backup might be larger than a cd or dvd. You can also export a bash script to restore. The export scripts use dar and don't need kdar.
I backup like salasi - just /home, /etc, and a list of installed software. I keep CDs/DVDs of all relevant installed software (on a per-machine basis) so I can completely rebuild a system in under 1 hour and restore all relevant data and settings in a short period of time (how long depends on how much data is actually stored).
"most clients do not appreciate being told a re-install is the only fix"
Yeah, well, if clients want to run things, I suggest running away and letting them run things. Who's supposed to be the expert anyway? Personally, if I don't have absolute control of a machine, I won't have anything to do with it - I won't be blamed for other people's screwups. If people want me to look at a machine that someone else screwed up, they can pay me appropriate rates rather than wasting my time telling me I'm to blame and should fix it for nothing. A system that's been well administered from the start really won't require anything backed up except for /etc and /home. A complete reinstall is far less of a hassle than attempting a complete system recovery from backup. The exception of course is the WinDuhs world where everything is unbelievably defective from the start and people consider HD 'ghosting' as an essential and routine operation, while I consider it a waste of time and money. I can restore any Linux system which I administer in far less time than anyone can perform a similar recovery on WinDuhs.