If you are into “distro hopping” i.e. playing with different Linux distributions, but wish to retain the contents of your Home directory, as well as keeping your Home directory in a separate partition, it’s a very good idea to back it up regularly to a removable USB storage device (pen drive, usb hard disk).
In my case I was just about to upgrade from Kubuntu 8.10 to 9.04 on my Dell laptop and decided that if the upgrade went wrong, protecting my data would be a very good idea!
A really easily way to do this is to use rsync http://www.samba.org/rsync/. rsync is a command line utility and therefore runs in Terminal/ Konsole.
I found some really simple instructions on http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/use-rsync-to-backup-directory/. The first thing you need to do is mount the device, this is easily done by just opening the removable device in the normal way.
However, following the instructions I discovered a problem. Ubuntu does not mount removable devices to the mnt directory, but uses a directory called media.
So for Ubuntu users the command to backup your home directory to a external USB disk called (mounted as) disk would be:
$ rsync -au /home/homefolder /media/disk
If you are not sure what your removable backup media is a called, from Terminal/ Konsole enter:
and then to display the contents enter
this will display your mounted devices and in my case my removable hard disk is called disk.
To restore all of your backed-up files back to their original folder enter:
$ rsync -au /media/disk /home/homefolder
basically the is the reverse of the earlier command.
The article also explains how to delete files in a backup directory which no longer exist in the source. Again a slight adjustment is required for Ubuntu users for the mnt command:
$ rsync -au –delete /home/homefolder /mnt/disk
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