[ubuntu-uk] backup home folder

Alan Lord (News) alanslists at gmail.com
Thu Sep 16 09:57:38 BST 2010

On 16/09/10 08:58, Norman Silverstone wrote:
> I frequently read that, before carrying out various operations, one
> should first backup the home folder. Does this mean simply taking a CD
> and copying the home folder to it?

This is absolutely possible although probably not totally necessary.

> Assuming that this is correct does it mean that if I mess things up or
> even have to re-install Ubuntu from scratch, copying this home folder
> back into the new installation will restore such things as my email
> address book and stored emails, for example?

I keep /home on a separate partition as do many others. Although I am 
led to believe that a new Ubuntu install can be told to leave your home 
directory alone and all will be well.

Backing up /home/username will store all your settings and data - that 
which isn't stored elsewhere of course ;-)

One gotcha that you should be aware of when using a fresh operating 
system install is that usernames and groups in linux are actually really 
numbers (UID and GID) and the name is mapped to the UID in /etc/passwd.

If you are the first user (the admin user) on Ubuntu your UID should be 
1000 - try typing

ls -n

in a terminal window.

When you install a new system the user you create during that install is 
assigned the UID and GID 1000. Clearly, if you back up your 
home/username directory and you are not the first user (perhaps your UID 
is 1002 for example) then you will need to be aware of this and change 
the UID/GID of your home directory's data.

There are quite a few files in /home that do not really need backing up 
and can take up quite a bit of space - I'm instantly thinking of 
.thumbnails/ & .local/share/Trash

FWIW, I run a small script that backs up several parts of all our 
computers every night. I back up:

/home /etc and /var and exclude directories such as above and any 
temporary files, e.g files ending with ~

Hope this helps.


The Open Learning Centre

More information about the ubuntu-uk mailing list