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Back up your system with Clonezilla – Tutorial

Clonezilla is more than just a simple backup tool – it’s a dedicated live distro perfect for ghosting entire networks of computers

Back up your system

Many backup solutions make a copy of the files on your system at a given time, but Clonezilla can back up an entire working system. As well as backing up and restoring a system, Clonezilla comes into its own for deployment: install a system, get it just how you want it, then copy it to fresh machines. It comes in two editions: the Live version is designed for backup and restoration of partitions and drives. The disk images are copied to or from a file on local or removable storage or transferred over a network. The Server Edition (SE) is designed to back up from or restore to many machines simultaneously via a network.

The user interface of Clonezilla sits halfway between a text mode interface and a graphical one. This ease of use is particularly convenient when you have to instruct a non-expert in Clonezilla’s operation. However, a word of warning: the old adage ‘measure twice, cut once’ is particularly appropriate. So, when carrying out deployment or restore operations, you should double-check that you are targeting the right machine. We’ll take you through some of the common Clonezilla jobs and, in the second half, switch to the Server Edition for networked operations on multiple machines.


Clonezilla Live:

For Clonezilla SE (multiple machines) we’ll be using the DRBL Live CD that includes Clonezilla SE

Step by Step

Step 01

Obtain Clonezilla

Visit the Clonezilla website for the appropriate ISO image. If you need to back up from or install to a lot of machines, grab the Clonezilla SE version. For single backup/restore tasks to local storage or over the network, you need Clonezilla Live.

Back up your system
Clonezilla boot

Step 02

Create boot medium

You can burn a CD or copy the ISO image to a USB stick using Tuxboot. Boot from the Clonezilla Live CD and select the first option from the boot menu. Once booted, select the correct keymap, language and keyboard type.

Step 03

Prepare backup medium

Clonezilla needs a lot of space, even though it does compress images on the fly. You can use most of the filing systems that Linux understands, such as ext4 and NTFS. Tip: Use your partitioning software to label the medium that you are going to use for image storage.

Step 04

Back up disk to file – part 1

Select the ‘device_image’ option in the menu, and then ‘local_dev’ in the next menu. At this point, you can attach USB storage if needed. Now, select the drive, partition and directory that you want to store your images in.

Step 05

Back up disk to file – part 2

Select ‘Beginner mode’ in the next menu. Then select the ‘savedisk’ option. Give the image a name when prompted. Then select the source disk that you want to clone. Skip the file system check when prompted, but say yes to the saved image check.

Step 06

Complete backup and reboot

Confirm that you want to go through with the procedure. You’ll then be shown a progress screen with an estimate of the total expected time for the job to complete. Use the menu options to shut down or reboot the system to ensure that all buffered writes are complete.

Step 07

Restore disk image

To restore (or deploy) a system, repeat the earlier steps until you reach the mode select screen. Now select ‘restoredisk’ instead of ‘savedisk’. In the next menu, select the filename of the disk image, and then select the device name of the physical disk.

Step 08

Restore to bigger disk

Follow the same procedure as before, but this time select advanced settings. As before, select ‘restoredisk’. Accept the default options on the first advanced option page by hitting Return; but on the next page, select option ‘-k1’. The partition will be resized.

Step 09

Create recovery ISO/zip

In the mode selection screen, select ‘recovery-iso-zip’, then select the disk image that you want to work from. Clonezilla will prompt you if the image is larger than a DVD-ROM can handle, but you can still create a USB image.

Step 10

NFS image repository (setup)

Add NFS to a Linux box with ‘sudo apt-get install nfs-kernel-server’. Now create a directory for the images with ‘sudo mkdir /images’ and then ‘chmod a+rwx /images’. Type ‘sudo gedit /etc/exports’. Add the line ‘/images *(rw,sync,no_root_squash)’ to the end of the file.

Type ‘sudo exportfs -a’.

Step 11

NFS image repository (use)

Follow the procedure for normal backup, but select ‘nfs_server’ rather than ‘local_dev’ on the ‘mount Clonezilla image directory’ page. Then, ‘DHCP broadcast’ (unless you have a static IP address). Then, ‘nfs4’. Use the ‘ifconfig’ command to discover the IP address on the server and enter
it when prompted by Clonezilla.