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I would like to backup my server that is hosting a few websites in such a way that I can restore everything to the way it was from a fresh format.

I know that I should backup all the home folders and then probably my /etc/ folders.

Is there a way to figure out all the folders that are relevant for backup in that they were not automatically generated or installed from apt-get?

It would ideally restore all the users with their current passwords as well.

Basically, enough to clone the system but only copying configuration files.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Also, if it's going about Debian, debsums -ce could show you changed configuration files.

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You will certainly be interested in an article that I posted recently on my blog about important folders to backup (for Ubuntu but also applies to Debian).

It regroups common files that are usually changed by users. At least on a webserver.

Here's a summary.

If you look at the actual article, I've put commands related to each step.

  • /home entirely
  • /root entirely
  • /usr/local entirely (it commonly holds software manually installed by the sysadmin)
  • /etc entirely, or see below.
  • /var entirely, or see below.
  • Backup MySQL databases, users and privileges
  • List of installed packages using dpkg --get-selections
  • Diversions in /var/lib/dpkg/diversions

Also, for /etc and /var, you can be more specific:

  • Backup users, passwords and groups:
    • users and passwords are in /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow
    • groups are in /etc/group and /etc/gshadow,

    JUST take the lines containing users/groups that YOU created (usually they have a uid >= 1000)!

  • Backup crontabs, and atjobs `/etc/crontab` `/var/spool/cron/crontabs/` `/var/spool/cron/atjobs/`
  • Backup users' email `/var/mail/`
  • Websites `/var/www`
  • Backup needed config files in /etc/:
    • Apache2 vhosts
    • Networking configuration
    • Postfix configuration
    • Anything else you see in /etc/ and you wish to keep...

source: Things to remember to backup or copy when migrating servers [] source: Gilles and bofh's comments, thanks!

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Don't forget /root and /usr/local. In a typical setting, 90% of disk usage (not counting /home) will be from /usr, which is only supposed to contain distribution-installed data (save for /usr/local) that you do not need to backup. Storage is cheap, it's best to backup too much than not enough, so it's good to backup /etc and /var as a whole. – b0fh Jul 24 '10 at 21:30
Thanks b0fh, I've updated my answer with your suggestion. I appreciate the comment. – Weboide Jul 25 '10 at 12:09
There may be a couple of things of interest in /var/lib/dpkg, such as the list of packages you have installed (best saved with dpkg --get-selections), and any diversion you created manually (all diversions are in /var/lib/dpkg/diversions). Also (though usually not for a server machine) game saves in /var/games. – Gilles Jul 25 '10 at 18:28
Alright Gilles, thanks, I've added those to the list! – Weboide Jul 25 '10 at 22:04

For your need Faubackup can help you out.Check this out.. ;) & It suits your requirement.

To install, As you said,

apt-get install faubackup

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