Determining What to Back Up in Software

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Determining What to Back Up
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Most Linux systems you re going to be working with will probably consume a fairly large amount of disk space, depending on the packages you ve installed You need to decide how much of this consumed disk space is going to be backed up One option is to back up the entire system This is a safe, thorough option However, it s also somewhat slow due to the sheer amount of data involved Many administrators choose not to do this Instead, they only back up critical data on the system, such as user data and configuration information The theory behind this strategy is that you could, in the event of a disaster, simply re-install a new system and then restore the critical data to it If you choose this strategy, then you should consider backing up the following directories in your Linux file system:
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Back Up Data
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Notice that this strategy doesn t back up your Linux system or its utilities Instead, it only backs up your configuration files, your user data, your log files, and your web/ftp files Once you ve determined what to back up, the next part of your plan is to determine what you ll back it up with
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When working with Linux, you have a host of different utilities at your disposal to conduct a backup Many come with the operating system; others can be obtained from third parties For your Linux+ exam, you need to be familiar with the tools that are common to most distributions and are run from the shell prompt In this part of the chapter, we re going to look at the following:
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Let s begin by looking at the venerable tar utility
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The tar utility has been around for a very long time and is a very commonly used Linux backup tool The acronym tar stands for tape archive The tar utility takes a list of specified files and copies them into a single archive file (tar) The tar file can then be compressed with the gzip utility on your Linux system, resulting in a file with a targz extension The tar utility can be used to send backup jobs to a variety of backup media, including tape drives and removable hard disk drives The syntax for using tar to create backups is tar cvf filename directory The c option tells tar to create a new archive The v option tells tar to work in verbose mode, displaying each file being backed up on screen The f option specifies the name of the tar archive to be created For example, if you wanted to create a backup of the /home directory named backuptar on an external USB hard drive mounted in /media/usb, you would enter tar cvf /media/usb/backuptar /home This is shown in Figure 6-46 As you can see in Figure 6-47, a tar archive named backuptar was created in the /media/usb directory When opened with the Ark graphical utility, you can see that the home directory was backed up into a single archive file If you wanted to back up to a tape drive, you could do this by replacing the file name parameter in the tar command to the device name for your tape drive On most distributions, the first SCSI tape drive in the system is referenced through
6: Managing the Linux File System
FIGURE 6-46
Using tar to create a backup
/dev/st0 Therefore, you could enter tar cvf /dev/st0 /home if you wanted to run the same backup as in the previous example, but send it to a SCSI tape drive instead To restore a tar archive, simply enter tar xvf filename For example, to extract the archive we just created, you would enter tar xvf /media/usb/backuptar This will extract the archive into the current working directory If the archive has been zipped, you can also use the z option to unzip the archive before extracting it In addition to tar, you can also use cpio to create backups Let s discuss how it is used next
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