I am running Ubuntu Maverick (10.10) 32bit VPS on Linode. I want to use RackSpace for "functional" backups, but they only offer 64bit on their CloudServers.

Ideally I would like to be able to RSync /, but I suspect that will cause a mess with various libraries and other things.
So far I have been doing this for the home folder:
sudo rsync -avzrlR --progress --perms --delete -e ssh root@server.com:/home/./ /home
but I would like to be able to RSync various configurations found in /etc as well.

The ultimate goal is to have A Really Crude Fallback On The Cheap ™, such as:
I spawn a RackSpace instance, update the backup, image it to CloudFiles and delete the instance.
If anything breaks on the Linode, I can then spawn a new RackSpace server from the latest image.

Q: can I add /etc in full to the RSync one-liner, or should I keep cherry-picking each eand every .conf, .ini, etc.?

(I am aware that this is probably the wrong way to go for it, but I am trying to be diligent and save as much $$ as I can for now.)

2 Answers 2


can I add /etc in full to the RSync one-liner, or should I keep cherry-picking each eand every .conf, .ini, etc.?

What's going to happen when you copy over nameservers? Mail smart hosts? The fstab?

Even if both ends were running the same OS/distro, I'd recommend treating a backup as just that - and separate out:

  • your files, scripts programs (which could go into the corresponding on the backup)
  • any third-party software (destination on a case-by-case basis)
  • any files included unmodified from the installation media / vendor patches (purely as backup)
  • all configuration (e.g. all of /etc) - this should be strictly a backup - but track changes so you can reimplement them as required on the standby machine)

You could rsync / into another directory, which will give you a full backup of the production server. You will need enough space for the whole hierarchy. Also you will need to exclude things like /proc, /sys, and other such mount points. Use -x will exclude your data if it is on a mounted file system.

Ideally for this kind if setup, I would identify the data and configuration directories for the applications being used with and cherry pick them. When planning a backup scenario, decide how much data you are willing to loose and plan your backups from there. Are you willing to loose log data?

Backing up live databases with rsync is likely to cause problems. The approach I use there is to used the database tools to create a recoverable backup, and then copy that.

Consider using --include-from=FILE to select the directories which need to be backed up. Use the --dry-run option to see what will be backed up before your first run.

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