Ubuntu: Keep your files intact and seperate from the OS

One of the lessons, that I learned while upgrading my system from Ubuntu 9.04 to Ubuntu 10.04 is that I should keep my personal files, preferences and configurations separate from rest of the OS installations. It helps me to bother less about loosing my files whenever I need to upgrade and re-install my OS.
Before I upgraded my OS, I had only one large partition /dev/sda1 in which all the files were residing (including my /home directory and its files). So when I wanted to format this partition to re-install my OS, I had to spend quite an amount of time to ensure that I take a backup of all the files under my /home directory and go ahead with formatting and re-install.
But this time, I decided to make two partitions some thing like the following:

/dev/sda1 – ext4 – mount point: / (where the OS is going to be installed)
/dev/sda5 – ext4 – mount point: /home (where my home directory along with my files and personal preferences will reside).

So this helped me re-installing the OS anytime without worrying about my files & preferences in my /home directory. Whenever I re-install my OS, all that I need to do is format the /dev/sda1 drive and leaving the /dev/sda5 intact. Ubuntu will automatically use the second partition for its /home directory.
This indeed saved me from re-configuring my personal preferences/settings right from the scratch and also helped me stop worrying about the files, bookmarks, vim configuration etc., that I stored in my file system.

I am sure there are much better ways to accomplish something like this. For now this approach is paying me off.

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