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

Step 12

Copy directly from disk to disk

Rather than working with an intermediary file, Clonezilla can copy directly between disks, saving time. Select ‘device-device’ rather than ‘device-image’ when prompted.

Step 13

Clonezilla SE (Server Edition)

As usual, a two Ethernet card system is best when providing a boot server, but one card can be used for a setup with no outside internet connection. The server must be connected to the storage for images, but it won’t be altered in
any way.

Step 14

Check and double-check the connections

Bear in mind that once this server is operational, any system that is connected to the network can potentially be wiped when it is switched on. If this is a regular server that you are re-tasking for this job, consider disconnecting machines that you don’t intend to re-image

Back up your system
Clonezilla SE

Step 15

Clonezilla SE (live CD)

Clonezilla SE can be added to an existing Linux installation, but we will use the DRBL Live CD for these examples. When booted, this distro presents the user with an Xfce desktop. This example presumes that you are making use of disk images on local storage that you created in an earlier step, but you can combine the various methods such as using the NFS image repository. Thankfully, many of the options and much of the interface are duplicated from the regular live edition of Clonezilla.

Step 16

Starting the server

Once you’ve booted the live media, double-click on the ‘Clonezilla server’ icon on the desktop. On the first settings page, assign the second network card an IP address. When prompted, select the image medium in the same way as with a singular installation.

Step 17

Start restore procedure (cloning)

As you progress, read the information that pops up on screen, but most of the defaults should be acceptable. As before, select ‘restore- disk’ from the ‘Clonezilla Mode’ menu when prompted. Select the ‘shutdown’ rather than reboot option unless you’re sure that the boot order won’t restart the installation at the end.

Step 18

Finish setting up (cloning)

Select the correct disk image when prompted, and then select the correct install drive for the clients. If you have a lot of machines, select ‘multicast’ (more efficient, can cause setup problems). For fewer machines, choose ‘unicast’ (simpler, but a network hog).

Step 19

Begin clone operation

If everything is working, you should now be able to boot clients off the server. Enter the BIOS setup on each client and ensure that it is set to network-boot. In some cases, you can simply hit a key to temporarily alter the boot order at startup.

Back up your syste,
Begin clone operation

Step 20

System backup

Clonezilla SE can perform mass backups of systems. Follow the same procedure as when cloning, but select ‘save-disk’ rather than ‘restore-disk’ when prompted. Clonezilla tends to be a bit of a stickler when it comes to disk space, so make sure that you have plenty of room in your image repository.

Step 21

Allow clients to select mode

It’s possible to allow the clients to choose the operating mode (restore/backup etc) after they have booted from the server, which is useful in a mixed environment of a smaller number of machines. Choose the option ‘select- in-client’ in the Clonezilla SE mode menu to enable this behaviour.

Step 22

A remote OS desktop

The DRBL Live CD can provide a standard Debian desktop over the network. Select it on the boot menu. This is handy for testing and to examine local storage on the client.

Step 23


You can run Clonezilla SE from within a virtual machine. On VirtualBox, for example, leave the first network card as NAT and set a second card to Bridged. This will allow other machines on the network to boot from the VM.

Step 24

Easy file share

Make a directory by typing ‘sudo mkdir /home/share’ and then ‘sudo chmod a+rwx /home/share’ in a terminal on the screen. Files in this directory will now appear in /home/user on the clients. This is handy if you need to run your own scripts.