How to backup ubuntu server and restore on a new computer

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http://serverfault.com – I have a dedicated (virtual) server, to which I have only SSH access to. I would like to backup/clone the server to my local virtual machine. I tried to backup with tar all the essential files, but then I struggled with restoring it on a new Virtual Machine. I didn't manage to make my new VM bootable. So any help is welcome. Server OS version ubuntu 10.04.3 (HowTos)