Need Advice on recovering files from Backup

This is a continuation of the thread Upgrade Failure - Need Recovery Advice

Current Situation:

  1. Leap 15.1 Clean installation working properly
  2. Files and settings are in a backup tar ball on an external drive made with Leap 42.3 . File dates, ownership and permissions are correct in the expanded .tgz

What is the best way to move selected files and settings from the backup to the 15.1 installation while retaining correct dates, ownership and permissions?

My practice, example with user USER:

  • In the login screen hit Ctrl-Alt-F2, login as root
  • move /home/USER to /home/USER.orig
  • From the extracted tarball, ‘cp -a’ the home/USER folder to /home.
    You have to mind about the paths though and about trailing slash, otherwise the content of home/USER will land in /home.

Thank you for the prompt and helpful reply.

The old computer backup has a lot of accumulated junk that I would like to leave behind. It had been upgraded repeatedly since about openSUSE 11. Every learning exercise, old project and application experiment has been carried forward for years. Much of it will never be used again and can safely reside in the backup “just in case”.

The various settings are not too important to me. There may be new and better ways of setting things up now anyway.

What I do need is business files and correspondence, family picture albums that have been captioned and tagged at great effort, Kmail correspondence residing in several inbox folders (5 different email accounts in one Kontact app) and, the files and articles from several websites I designed that were on a localhost Apache server (I no longer need the server, just the files). I suspect other things will be needed as I begin to use the new computer.

The procedure you suggest is quite similar to the procedure used in the previous thread Upgrade Failure - Need Recovery Advice. It successfully recovered everything (junk and all) into a new 42.3 installation.

Is there an easy way to selectively import files from the backup while retaining the old file properties?

In your professional opinion, would it be better to import selectively or move it all and clean up later?

You can invoke the cp command with the option to preserve specific or all attributes like permissions, owner, timestamp, etc.

Consult the MAN page for coreutils cp, you can view this online, recommend searching the page with the keyword “preserve”

I’m going to guess that you can do a better job of “cleaning up” by specifying exactly what you want, and how much to preserve rather than trying to clean up what you don’t want. And, to be sure you don’t miss something, retain your backup as long as you feel is needed… maybe forever if you don’t mind finding a place to put it.


Thank you for taking the time to reply and share your knowledge.

Is it possible to do this by moving files in Dolphin? Or would that change file properties?

The reason I ask is that I am not a Linux expert. OpenSUSE suits me for an operating system because it is remarkably stable and doesn’t require constant attention - it just keeps on working and working and working. That allows me to focus on what I do instead of computer maintenance. The downside is that I come here with dumb beginner questions, even though I have been using openSUSE Linux for a decade or more.

I can’t know everything about everything so I would be much more comfortable with a GUI instead of Konsole unless I have are explicit instructions.

The backup drive is a 1 tb Toshiba not much bigger than a deck of cards. I think it is forever, but I thought that about CDs too.

I will wrap up what I have learned for those who might be in a similar situation.

Disaster Recovery is complicated. The devil is in the details, so even if you have a backup, don’t think that just hitting the restore button or copying files will solve everything. For Example:

One application that I need is an old password manager called QPass that I started using long ago. QPass hasn’t been updated in years and isn’t in the standard openSUSE repositories. Using a full Restore from Backup does not install the application. Neither does copying the hidden database file (.qpassdb). Luckily, the application was found in the KDE:Extra repository. Once the Repository was installed, QPass could be installed in YAST. and the old database moved and opened. Gramps (genealogy), KMyMoney (accounting) and other applications may present similar problems.

For the average user like myself, it is a time consuming process.

What problems am I likely to encounter if I start over and restore the Leap 42.3 backup on this Leap 15.1 computer?