tar is a Unix utility that allows you to create backup files. Here is an example:
cd /my/system/public_html tar --create --gzip --file="Documents_01Jan2011" Documents
These commands would create a zipped file with the named "Documents_01Jan2011" which would contain all files and directories contained in the /my/system/public_html/Documents directory.
It is common to group a series of backup commands into a batch file and to schedule that batch file to be run in cron.
See your systems man pages for tar to see details on the options as these vary from implementation to implementation.
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