I was reading this article about how to do a full system backup using rsync. This article assumes you have another machine with a similar linux system. What if is not the case? How different would be the procedure in order to do a full machine backup (including other mounted drives) in a way that if my hard drive breaks, I would just need to boot from my external backup drive?

I'm not sure about the excluding patterns used.

Thanks in advance.



Backups should always be

  • offsite
  • offline/read-only
  • redundant.

If you just use an external hard disk connected eg. via USB, you dramatically reduce the amount of protection your backup can offer against

  • catastrophic damage like theft, fire, flooding etc.
  • user and or software error leading to deleted data on connected drives, inlcuding your backup drive
  • ransomware encrypting your data, including backups to force you to pay in order to decyrpt.

In summary, such a backup is nearly worthless if it's the only backup. Do this only as a secondary backup for fast recovery in case of hardware damage.

About the actual question:

These instructions are really old. You should find more current documents. That said, the exclude rules will be essentially the same, except you have to also exclude the mount point of your backup drive for the local backup.

  • You are not answering. Who says is just my only backup? I just want to know how to do this for an specific purpose. – Carlos Vega Apr 19 '16 at 11:03
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    Pleae read again. Also, the upper part is essential. Just accept it even if it might not apply to you. – Sven Apr 19 '16 at 11:04
  • On a Unix system it does not matter much where your destination is located - it could be a remote system mounted via SMB or NFS, it could be another partition on the same disk or it could be another disk or removable storage media. As Sven said, your backup procedure would be the same, only faster. – user121391 Apr 19 '16 at 11:05
  • These instructions are really old. How does this affect the instructions, aren't they correct? Also, I know it does not matter where the destination is, but I want to be sure that it will be a bootable drive. – Carlos Vega Apr 19 '16 at 12:26
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    but I want to be sure that it will be a bootable drive. This part makes the age really relevant. Among other things, the document mentions LILO, which has been replaced first by Grub and now Grub2 ... And no, the drive will bot be bootable just after doing an rsync. – Sven Apr 19 '16 at 12:29

I opted for doing a first dd and then use rsync in order to update the backup. The dd does a perfect copy of the system including fstab as well as the boot stuff. Rsync will keep the copy updated and include the mounted drives.

dd if=/dev/sdb of=/dev/sdg bs=4M

Replace source and destination drives accordingly.

The rsync procedure will be exactly the same as explained in this article.

  • If you are going to clone the disk, it would be better if you use something like clonezilla instead. dd is great, but it also copies free space, which is a waste of time. – chris-l Feb 25 '17 at 23:13

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