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Backing Up to a Compressed Archive on Linux

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – How would you go about backing up just some files and subdirectories of a given directory to a compressed archive so that the tree structure could then easily be recreated from that archive. Basically, rsync, with a little bit of scripting around (to select the files and folders I need) does the job, except I don't want to just copy. I need an additional layer that compresses the files being rsynced into some kind of compressed archive (which could then be restored with the paths being recreated). Rsync doesn't necessarily have to be part of the solution. E.g., can I mount an archive on so (HowTos)