Create (linux debian) backup for VMWare

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http://serverfault.com – I want to create a backup of my server after the initial installation. Then I want to load/install this backup in VMWare. The reason I want to do this is so I can experiment and improve my setup without touching the server but with the exact same configuration as my server. After changes have proven to be effective I will manually make this changes on the server and create a backup again and start the routine all over. This is my idea, do you guys think this is the right way to go? Can you give me more information or links on how to do a proper backup and how to properly load this into VMWa (HowTos)