MySQL Replication

So I’m sorry for surely revisiting, I couldn’t find what I was looking for through SP and Google. I’ve found lots of walkthroughs on what software to install, and how to install it for preparing some replication. What I can’t find some material on is, where to store my replications / slaves / masters, when and how.

Also what are your thoughts on xtrabackup? Should I maybe just on mysqldump on a slave? What happens to the replication data while I’m running mysqldump on the slave while my master is still being updated with live data?

Really I’m looking for a nice top level explanation and options for data backup.

So now that I’m looking even further for resources and articles, I’m finding this topic to be one that has no iron clad solution, even at the basic level. Does anyone have any references that got them off the ground setting up replication for the first time? I’m looking for a reference that addresses any possible data loss. It seems that the default ways are prone to possible data loss on the slaves.