Backing up Kubuntu to an external hard drive

Penguin from Morguefile.comI have been working with my own personal “Linux coach” lately — aka Keith Burton. He’s a family friend and a bloody genius when it comes to all things technical. I go to my father, usually, when I have a weighty tech/hardware question. Pops and Keith use each other as resources on different topics and individual special areas of interest. Having them both available is one of the things that makes my life easier.

Keith has helped me to solve several Linux issues that have been bugging the crap outta me. I’ll be sharing some of the wisdom he’s passed on to me as well as some that I’ve picked up from Pops, some discovered on my own and some through online research in this and upcoming Linux posts.

First, the thing you need to know when you get everything tweaked just the way you want it — a FULL system backup! Although I’m still in the market for a GUI version, this command line will do the trick to get my system backed up to an external drive.

My own external drive is named wickedport (it’s a 120 Gig Western Digital Passport Portable Hard Drive.

I gave up on using FAT32 formatting on my backup disk because the backup tar file was over 2 gigs (50 times over that, to be exact) and the FAT32 format can’t handle large file sizes. I may look for another way around that in the future, to make porting files between Windows machines and Linux a bit easier. For now, I reformatted the drive to ext3 and forged ahead.

Keith told me that there are some Windows drivers that permit Windows to “see” ext3 formatting. I’ll look into that if the need arises.

I used Keith’s recommendation to do the formatting, and installed QTParted (available from the add/remove programs option in K Menu under the “system” category).

Once the disk is ready… the command line looks like this:

$ tar –one-file-system -czvf /media/wickedport/wickedbackup.tgz /home/angela

in short this means… create a tar (tar) file in a single file (–one-file-system) and use gzip (-cz) offer verbose reporting (v) so I can see what’s happening and (f) the file name and path will follow. Then the destination for the backup file is given next (in this case /media/wickedport/) immediately followed by the file name (wickedbackup.tgz). The source follows (here I want to backup everything under my home folder, so the path is “/home/angela”).

Expect this backup to take quite a bit of time if you have a large amount of data.

Keith recommends that I give rdiff-backup a whirl. I’ll give that a try as soon as I take my 250 gig external out of mothballs. The little 120 is cool because it doesn’t require external power — and that’s convenient. But with my backup being over 100 gigs … I’ll need a little more space to run rdiff-backup.

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