Best procedure for full backup of live system

Nerius Landys nlandys at
Thu Oct 15 03:42:48 UTC 2009

My server is increasingly having important work stored on it, and I
need to start taking backups of a lot of directories, especially
/home, /opt, /etc, /usr/local/etc, and maybe others.  The ideal backup
(and what I've done in the past) is to take a full low-level dd image
of the disk while the system is down (this is easy to do in a
situation where you have dual boot).  Or, since the output of dd would
take up tons of space and would only be usable on an identical hard
drive, use "dump" to take the backup while the machine is turned off
(again easy to do on a dual boot).  But now, I cannot bring down the
machine.  My plan is to do a tar gzip of / on the fly, and pipe that
to ssh (remote machine).  However, the system is live, and files will
be in the progress of changing.

My question is, what is the recommended procedure of taking a full
backup on a live system?  Ideally, if my hard drive were to crash, I
would like to have such a backup so as to make it possible to copy
over the entire backup to a new identical harddrive without doing any
reinstall or configuration.  Should I use tar/gzip?  dump?  What exact
command should I use?  I guess I'll back up all of / including system
files, because there is not too much data.  I will be piping the
output to ssh.

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