This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For this article, we’ll look at Clonezilla, a free and open source ncurses partition and disk imaging/cloning program. The software offers system deployment, bare metal backup and recovery. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.
The software is similar in functionality to True Image and Norton Ghost, two proprietary solutions.
While Linux is well blessed with backup software to save and restore your data, there aren’t many applications that offer disk imaging.
There are two editions of Clonezilla, Clonezilla Live and Clonezilla SE (server edition). Clonezilla Live is a small bootable Linux distribution for x86/amd64 (x86-64) based computers. It’s designed for single machine backup and restore, whereas Clonezilla SE offers multicast support similar to Norton Ghost Corporate Edition. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the hard disk.
To install Clonezilla Live, the basic steps are to download pre-build Clonezilla Live, and then put it in a boot media (CD, USB flash drive or USB hard drive). Two types of files are available, iso and zip.
Clonezilla offers the ability to clone/restore a disk or partitions using an image, or disk to disk or partition to partition clone/restore. We’ll work through the steps for copying a partition to an image file stored on an external drive.
The steps you take to clone a disk are:
- We need to tell Clonezilla where to save the image. There’s a wide selection available including a local device, SSH server, SAMBA server, NFS server, and WebDAV.
- We need to assign where the Clonezilla images will be saved. That device is mounted as /home/partimage. You select the partition and the directory to save the image.
- We then need to tell Clonezilla to mount a device as /home/partimage so that we can read or save the image in /home/partimage.
- Choose a directory for the Clonezilla image repository.
- There are two modes to choose from: Beginner and Expert, the latter lets you choose your own options such as running in text only mode, or cloning everything except the boot loader. We’ll choose the beginner mode.
- Choose to save the local disk as an image, or save local partitions as an image.
- Choose a name for the saved image.
- Then choose the local disk as the source.
- You have the option to check and repair the file system before saving it. This is only supported for some file systems.
- You also have the option to encrypt the image. If you encrypt the image, eCryptfs is used. This uses AES-256 encryption with industry-standard cryptographic ciphers, key generation, and passphrase protection mechanisms.
- You then choose either to reboot or shutdown the computer when everything is finished.
To restore your local disk from the backup you just made, you follow the same steps, except you’ll need to choose the local drive as your target disk instead of the cloned drive.....