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backup of my / filesystem

I'm looking for a clean way to backup my laptop in part so before I apply any updates I have a clean backup to revert to if needed.

I have a / and /home filesystems in order to backup before I run a set of updates from yum I suspect I need to backup / separately this way I dont need to restore my 22Gig of documents in /home if an update breaks something.

In the past I've gone onto single user mode and used dd to backup my HD

I wonder if running tar with the proper flags to ensure the following would be as effective

1) restrict tar to the current(/) filesystem (i.e. disallow it from going off into /home)

2) ensure that tat picks up all the dot files

2 questions:

1) is the above tar scenario sufficient to protect me from yum update changes?

2) anyone have suggestions per specific tar commands that will do the operations specified above?

Thanks in advance

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