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backing up active filesystems safely

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Last Modified: 2013-11-15
I'm using Redhat Linux 5.0 with a scsi 4mm tape drive.
I don't have any problems writing to or reading from the tape.
For example:
  To backup I can type:  tar -czvSf /dev/tape /home/mag
  To restore I can type:  cat /dev/tape >foo.tar.gz
    then I can type: gzip -d foo.tar.gz
    then I can type: tar xvf foo.tar
    and I'm back in business.

I have heard that tar is not a good backup tool to use if the filesystem is changing.

Is it any part of the filesystem that corrupts the backup?  Or is it only a problem if the file being backed up changes?

Is their a failsafe method of backing up the files to a tape drive?  dump?  zip?
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If the data being backed up changes during the backup,
you may find that the data on the tape for a given file does not correspond to what was the contents of the file at *any* time; it may be half-and-half or something like that.

Common wisdom has it that dump(1) is more resistant to these problems, but I haven't read the source so I'm not sure.

Personally, I do backups with tar, but duiring the night when those filesystems are not being used.

Filesystem snapshots will appear in the 2.3 or 2.5 Linux kernel series, I think, so in the end the problem will be solved the right way.

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