Backups are all the craze these days. And for good reason: data recovery can cost into $1000’s because of the highly specialized knowledge and tools that are required. Many backup solutions are useful to use to backup your images, documents, and other irreplaceable data.
However, what if you want to backup your programs and your operating system?
If your hard drive crashes, it will result in a big “to-do” of having to get someone to replace your drive, reinstall your operating system and then you will be responsible for purchasing or acquiring illegal versions of the software that you previously had…
We restore systems all the time and it’s not cheap. Repairing a computer with a crashed hard drive will often cost $150 – $350 depending on the size and cost of the replacement drive.
That being said, there are several ways for you to create an exact replica of your hard drive on another drive or in a format that can be easily copied to a new drive.
Many people may have heard about Norton Ghost – this software is excellent, but it costs $$. However, long before Norton unix and linux systems had the capability of cloning drives and devices. Here is my recommended list of free alternatives to Norton Ghost…
Open-Source Drive Imaging (aka Cloning) Software for Windows
“Image creation uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe “hot images” even from drives currently in use. Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup! Restore images to drives without having to reboot. DriveImage XML is now faster than ever, offering two different compression levels. DriveImage XML runs under Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Vista and Windows 7 only. The program will backup, image and restore drives formatted with FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS.”
“Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore. While Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency.”
“Absolutely free! No strings! The only free XP, Vista and Windows 7 compatible disk imaging software with BartPE and Linux based recovery options.”
Open-Source Drive Imaging (aka Cloning) Software for OS X
Hard Drive Clone for Mac (intel-based Macbook, Macbook Pro, Mac Pro, iMac, Mac Air).
“Spinning for years at 75MPH, your hard drive’s catastrophic crash could really hinder your productivity. Use CCC to make a bootable backup of your digital life today!”
How to clone/backup a drive with from a Linux command line (Live CD):
Or if you’re feeling really geeky and you want an image that is completely accurate. Do it like the pros:
The quintessential Linux command line block by block clone: dd and/or dd_rescue (displays statistics)
Download any Linux live CD (we recommend Ubuntu).
Then open a package manager and install dd and/or dd_rescue.
From the command line you can type:
apt-get install dd OR
apt-get install ddrescue
dd if=<SOURCE> of=DESTINATION
dd_rescue <SOURCE> <DESTINATION>
The source can be an entire drive and the destination can be an entire drive:
dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb
dd_rescue /dev/sda /dev/sdb
Or you can clone to an img file on a connected external drive:
dd_rescue /dev/hda1 /mnt/externaldrive/clone.img
dd if=/dev/sda1 /mnt/externaldrive/clone.img