Using Clonezilla

I recently had to rebuild our desktop system at the house, due to power supply and hard drive failures. I discovered that I’d conveniently neglected to ever back up the C: partition, where most of the interesting stuff was naturally stored. While rebuilding, I also developed a dependable process for me to back up the entire system, and documented it here.

Introduction and Preparation

  • Download the Clonezilla ISO (http://clonezilla.org) and burn it to CD. You’ll boot the CD every time you want to back up or restore the system. This is a manual procedure, and that’s just the way it goes. While I wish I could automate it, I’m willing to compromise for the sake of knowing I’m dependably backed up without having to reinstall the operating system, or keeping track of exactly how all my applications are installed.
  • By habit, I used to have C: (system) and E: (data) partitions. I now just use a single C: partition for the entire drive. I don’t believe that multiple partitions offer any discrete benefit for a Windows system, especially when backing up the entire drive every time. I did install a second (matching) drive for holding backup images.
  • I periodically test this procedure by reformatting the system drive, deleting all partitions, and restoring from my latest backup. The backup recreates the primary drive as an exact image of the system drive, including partition structures and everything, so after a reboot, the system should be exactly as it was without any need for further action.

Initial Steps

  1. Boot Clonezilla CD, select Clonezilla Live, and allow time for it to load.
  2. Select the language, the keymap (I just select “Don’t touch keymap”), Start_Clonezilla, device-image, and local_dev. Hit Enter after the USB warning.
  3. Select the backup drive/partition with your images. When backing up, this is where image files will be written. When restoring, this is where image files will be found and loaded. In my running system with 2 drives, I expect to see sda1 (the ~100MB Win7 system partition), sda2 (the remainder of the drive with Win7, applications, and data), and sdb1 (my backup drive with single partition). Choose sdb1 (which will be mounted as /home/partimag).
  4. Select the root partition (/) of sda (not indicated on screen, but understood) as the source drive to be backed up or restored. Hit Enter after the drive summary is shown.
  5. Select Beginner for easier use. Continue below with either the Backing Up section, or the Restoring section.

Backing Up

  1. Select savedisk. Name the image directory as desired (i.e. 2010-12-20-img). Clonezilla will create this directory on the backup drive, and write a collection of files within it.
  2. Clonezilla will show that sda is the source drive to be imaged. Hit Enter to confirm.
  3. Clonezilla will display a summary of what it’s about to do – write an image file containing sda/sda1/sda2 to the /home/partimag/whatever-you-called-it-img directory on the backup drive (recall that the backup drive is mounted as /home/partimag). Hit Enter to confirm.
  4. Give it time to work. You’ll see a progress indicator. This may take hours, depending on your drive size. My 5400 rpm 1TB SATA drive takes about 4 hours or so.
  5. When finally done, you’ll be prompted to reboot. Go ahead, and you’ll find that you can easily browse the new image files on the backup drive.

Restoring

  1. Select restoredisk. You should be presented with a list of available image directories to choose from. Clonezilla will load all image files from this directory.
  2. Clonezilla should automatically select sda as the drive to be overwritten with the image. Confirm the selection.
  3. Give it time to work. Along the way you may notice Partclone being used to restore the partition structures and contents as found in the image. Toward the end of the restore process, you may notice it sitting at 100% completion for some time before it continues with syncing. Let it sit as it likes.
  4. When prompted, go ahead and reboot into your recreated system.

I documented this for my own reference, but perhaps it might be of use to you as well.

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