Solved How do you backup your system configuration?

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Jan 21, 2024
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There is a ton of configuration files you need to edit according to your liking to make the system function the way you want,
there is likewise also a list of software you want to have installed, probably also various text files containing notes about how to fix or workaround this or that,
probably also tutorial style steps on how to configure this or that and how to deal with issues you've stumbled upon, firewall rules etc etc.

All this stuff needs to be backed up in case of disk failure or if you just want to install system a new to easily and quickly configure new system to how you want it to be.

How do you do that?
I used to keep a backup of config and text files on a separate disk, however this method is not very good unless you regularly update it for changes, so I'm seeking for a better alternative.

Another method that comes to my mind is using source control, a repository dedicated to config files and setup steps.
Problem with this is that I'd keep my system info online which is not good for security.

What other options are there?

I use time shift here to an external drive. Works well for me.
Thank you guys, I think I'm going to use rsync because with it I can create a script and back up only the files I want.
timeshift from what I see does full backup.
timeshift can use rsync and in fact that is what I use with and it can be configured to save what you want.
Below is how I set up the pattern, so that only 1 file is expected to be backed up:

Problem is that it still tries to back up entire system.

According to the summary everything should be excluded except that one file:


How do I make it backup only the "/etc/nftables.conf" file?
Backups are for noobs!
agree, that's why I want to backup only specific files (those which create and edit) rather than entire system.

How do you back up your config?
I was just joking. I do use backups for my desktop system and for my server systems, which is snapper in combination with btrfs-assistent and on my server systems I use borgbackup. For backups of specific config files I have them stored in my Gitlab repo. If you use the forum search you will come across multiple topics about this.
I like rsync. The command is in my ~/.bash_history, which makes it pretty easy to manually run the command.

If I was just a touch lazier, I'd set up a cron job. I'll probably do that at some point.
My Laptop (Enterprise-Dell Vostro 15 3515) has been used to be an Ubuntu Laptop, but my companhy that i did internship back 2 years before installed Windows 11 (I stuck :-( ). If I was using Ubuntu (My boss even adviced but my brother needed it so i cant), I could use btrfs or some kind of disk like SystemRescue...
How do I make it backup only the "/etc/nftables.conf" file?

It doesn't.

Timeshift is primarily for system restore, so it will always back up your system files.


BTW always tell us what distro and version (and desktop) you are using, and we can advise better from there.

Deja Dup is also known as Backup, and may be your best solution for only one file.
For my personal desktop, I don't backup any configuration.
I do backup all of my data. I don't use Timeshift, I use rsync instead as I want manual control over backup jobs taking an hour using external devices.

When the next update of the operating system is installed the newer configuration files might conflict with older configuration files.
Configuration options can be deprecated or whatever the case may be. Config files can often create compatibility issues between versions.

So when it comes to operating systems, I prefer to do a complete wipe and reinstall. Nuke it from orbit.

Afterwards some config files can still apply or be useful, but which ones those are you need to figure out ahead of time. Save a copy where it makes sense.

As an IT professional I've learned not to rely on customization too much in my life. Whatever customization I like doesn't apply to the next 20 machines I work on. So what is the point of getting used to customization in the first place.
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Just a note to all helpers

How do I make it backup only the "/etc/nftables.conf" file?

If that is all the OP wishes to safeguard (and it relates to firewall configuration), then simple is best, with a scheduled backup solution.

I back up everything on the Drive not just System Files...if the Op wants only this...what's the point of backing anything up.
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If that is all the OP wishes to safeguard (and it relates to firewall configuration), then simple is best, with a scheduled backup solution.
It's just an example to test which program will be the best for the task,
I however plan to back to back up multiple config files, but only those which I create and edit.

Timeshift is primarily for system restore, so it will always back up your system files.
That clears up, thanks.

if the Op wants only this...what's the point of backing anything up.
I think system files which you yourself don't edit are not worth backing up because you can always restore them by reinstalling system.
And then simply copy over your own modifications which you do backup, that's my plan.

Thanks, I agree with all you said!


Thank you everyone for useful advices, I made my choice to go with rsync so I'll mark this as solved.
After years of not doing backups, because I let myself be confused by every-ones picky-uny requirements for backing up only specific files and not wanting to take any effort or time to do backups or being concerned with "should I do full, incremental or differential backups", I settled on doing a daily full home backup using backintime and every month or so doing a clone using foxclone. No fuss, no muss. Only takes a few minutes to do the clone and the backup is automatic, in the background. Restores are so far always flawless. My backup drive is always connected, and hooking up my clone drive requires me to bend over for 15 seconds and then click an icon to run it. This is all you need.
I have perhaps the simplest back-up routine of all. With Puppy, there's no need for things like Timeshift, Clonezilla or Deja-Dup.....because backing-up your entire Puppy is a simple copy/paste operation. Literally!

(Which I religiously perform once a fortnight, throughout the entire "kennels"....and takes maybe an hour. It's long since been automated with a script, so I just click on the script and leave it to its own devices).

Mike. :p

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