This short article show you how to backup an ext2/3/4 File Systems and restore them from a backup.

Backup an ext2/3/4 File Systems

1. All data must be backed up before attempting any kind of restore operation. Data backups should be made on a regular basis. In addition to data, there is configuration information that should be saved, including /etc/fstab and the output of fdisk -l . Running an sosreport/sysreport will capture this information and is strongly recommended.

# cat /etc/fstab
LABEL=/ / ext3 defaults 1 1
LABEL=/boot1 /boot ext3 defaults 1 2
LABEL=/data /data ext3 defaults 0 0
tmpfs /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0
devpts /dev/pts devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0
sysfs /sys sysfs defaults 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
LABEL=SWAP-sda5 swap swap defaults 0 0
/dev/sda6 /backup-files ext3 defaults 0 0
# fdisk -l
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 13 104391 83 Linux
/dev/sda2 14 1925 15358140 83 Linux
/dev/sda3 1926 3200 10241437+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda4 3201 4864 13366080 5 Extended
/dev/sda5 3201 3391 1534176 82 Linux swap /Solaris
/dev/sda6 3392 4864 11831841 83 Linux

In this example, we will use the /dev/sda6 partition to save backup files, and we assume that /dev/sda6 is mounted on /backup-files.
2. If the partition being backed up is an operating system partition, bootup your system into Single User Mode. This step is not necessary for normal data partitions.
3. Use dump to backup the contents of the partitions:
If the system has been running for a long time, it is advisable to run e2fsck on the partitions before backup.
dump should not be used on heavily loaded and mounted filesystem as it could backup corrupted version of files. This problem has been mentioned on
When backing up operating system partitions, the partition must be unmounted.
While it is possible to back up an ordinary data partition while it is mounted, it is adviseable to unmount it where possible. The results of attempting to back up a mounted data partition can be unpredicteable.

# dump -0uf /backup-files/sda1.dump /dev/sda1
# dump -0uf /backup-files/sda2.dump /dev/sda2
# dump -0uf /backup-files/sda3.dump /dev/sda3

If you want to do a remote backup, you can use both ssh or configure a non-password login.
If using standard redirection, the '-f' option must be passed separately.

# dump -0u -f - /dev/sda1 | ssh This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. dd of=/tmp/sda1.dump

Restore an ext2/3/4 File System

1. If you are restoring an operating system partition, bootup your system into Rescue Mode. This step is not required for ordinary data partitions.
2. Rebuild sda1/sda2/sda3/sda4/sda5 by using the fdisk command.
If necessary, create the partitions to contain the restored file systems. The new partitions must be large enough to contain the restored data. It is important to get the start and end numbers right; these are the starting and ending sector numbers of the partitions.
3. Format the destination partitions by using the mkfs command, as shown below.
DO NOT format /dev/sda6 in the above example because it saves backup files.

# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda1
# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda2
# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda3

4. If creating new partitions, re-label all the partitions so they match the fstab file. This step is not required if the partitions are not being recreated.

# e2label /dev/sda1 /boot1
# e2label /dev/sda2 /
# e2label /dev/sda3 /data
# mkswap -L SWAP-sda5 /dev/sda5

5. Prepare the working directories.

# mkdir /mnt/sda1
# mount -t ext3 /dev/sda1 /mnt/sda1
# mkdir /mnt/sda2
# mount -t ext3 /dev/sda2 /mnt/sda2
# mkdir /mnt/sda3
# mount -t ext3 /dev/sda3 /mnt/sda3
# mkdir /backup-files
# mount -t ext3 /dev/sda6 /backup-files

6. Restore the data.

# cd /mnt/sda1
# restore -rf /backup-files/sda1.dump
# cd /mnt/sda2
# restore -rf /backup-files/sda2.dump
# cd /mnt/sda3
# restore -rf /backup-files/sda3.dump