Ubuntu – What’s a good back-up strategy for 1 desktop PC


No, this is not a comparison of back-up tools, nor is it a solicitation on What to backup or Why and only a little bit about Where to backup and When to do it.

This is basically a strategy question: what, where and when all together. "How" is not really relevant: there are tons of back-up programs out there and they all do the same basic thing: make copies of data.

But the real question is: are these back-up programs making copies of the data important to you? How should you install&run Ubuntu while safeguarding your data?

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to computers, Ubuntu versions or a backup strategy, therefore I've split this up into 5 basic user types with each their own answer:

  1. I don't have a computer!
  2. My computer doesn't contain my life…
  3. My computer contains my life!
  4. My computer IS my life! (or you're running in UEFI mode!)

And as the above does not fit everyone, one for the impatient:

  1. I want the fastest possible Restore!

So click one of the above links and go to your user type!

P.S. If you're running a server farm and you've read this question so far, I'm sorry: this is about a single PC, not a network, nor a server farm.

Best Answer

  • 1. I don't have a computer!

    Indeed! The forgotten masses of Ubuntu! Well, not forgotten here... ;-)

    The others might wonder, but you and I know: You might not have the big bucks to buy your own computer, but you've got your own personal computer safely tucked away on your USB stick/pen drive/SD Card/external HDD or even just simply your phone/tablet...

    And you're safe, right? Backup??? You don't need one! It's all safely tucked away in your purse, in your drawer or in your pocket.

    But what if you lose it? Or it gets stolen? Or you sit down comfortably and it slips out and you flush it and only realize it a split second after you've pushed the button...

    1. If you have a USB stick/pen drive/SD Card/external HDD ("USB stick" from now on) you're already saving up for a new one, right? Bigger!
    2. If you have a phone/tablet ("Phone" from now on) you're also saving up for a bigger/better version.

    What to back up: Everything.

    1. USB stick: Save a little more. You have the MLC version already! Buy an SLC: they're 2-3 times more expensive for the same size then the MLC ones, but they're 4 to 8 times faster and they last much longer, so see it as an investment for the future.
    2. Phone: You have an MLC too don't you? Don't bother about an SLC: The newer phone you're saving for will use its internal memory to cache the bad performance of the MLC! Just don't buy the cheapest "Crap Inc. Hyper! Mega! Micro! SD! Card" but a good brand. With an SD-jacket so that when you do get your hands on a PC, it's easy to back up your phone. Ask about warranty.

      If you can't afford to back up everything, take the data that is irreplaceable: photos of your family, your current school/uni work, that stuff. And know that you shouldn't tinker too much getting your Ubuntu just right: it's expendable. That photo with that beautiful smile isn't.

    Where to back up / Where to store it: Your old one!

    1. Both USB Stick and..
    2. Your Phone should be backed up to the old one. Don't worry that it's slow and outdated... It's something you can fall back on when something really nasty happens.

      And store it in a safe place: not in the same room and not in the same house if possible. (Brother/sister/cousin/niece around the corner is fine)

    When to back up:

    How much can you afford to lose? A week? A month? Do the data every week. (Please!) The system: every month.

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