How To Clone a Hard Drive with Linux

Maintaining your computer can be annoying for some. Unless you’re the type who’s mad about anything computer-related, chances are you don’t really do any sort of computer maintenance except maybe to delete old files and empty your recycle bin. But those who have lost huge volume of files due to computer crashes know the importance of maintaining your computer and backing up your data. So for the open source lovers who use Linux-based operating systems, here are some ideas on how to clone your hard drive and effectively back up your data.

  • Use utilities like “dd” and “Gddrescue”. As a reminder, “dd” is not for the technically-challenged. It’s a complicated program and using it to clone your hard drive will be a long process. Gddrescue is easier and it makes cloning a lot deal faster.  Here’s a step-by-step on how to clone your Linux system using Gddrescue.
      • Prepare your computer for cloning. This involves detaching all kinds of storage devices including external hard drives, memory cards, and cameras.
      • Boot the computer whose hard drive you want to clone using a Linux live CD, e.g. Knoppix or Ubuntu Live.
      • Determine which is your source drive and which is your destination drive. This is pretty easy if your hard drive is partitioned into two since your destination drive is probably named /dev/sdb/. If your source drive and destination drive are of different sizes, you can use their size to determine which is the source and which is the destination.
      • Enable universe and multiverse repositories. You can find this under the Administration menu of your Linux Live CD. Administration is filed under System, which you can find near the deskbar. Make sure that you check the universe and multiverse respositories.
      • Download gddrescue. You can download this from the Linux Live cd. It’s under the Accessories section of the Applications menu. You can also type the following into the command box: sudo apt-get install gddrescue.
      • Clone your hard drive. In the terminal, type the following command: sudo ddrescue -v /dev/SOURCE /dev/DESTINATION. Don’t forget to replace SOURCE with the name of your source drive and DESTINATION with the name of your destination drive.
  • Use open source tools like CloneZilla and EASEUS Disk Copy. Both tools are not software that you can install in your computer. Rather, they can be downloaded as ISO image or ZIP file into a CD or USB flash drive. Use any of these to boot your computer and follow the prompts for cloning your hard drive. Detailed instructions can be found in the web site of both these tools. Take note that EASEUS is ideal for novice users.

On a final note, there are other ways to clone your Linux-based system. Carefully choose which option to use especially if you are not well versed in computers as you might delete everything instead of backing it up. The last option is to hire someone to do it for you and teach you how it’s done.


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