Since I never quite got back on the post on alternative disk/partition cloning tools after a few days, it might be appropriate to at least close it after a year.
I actually did got something out of that exercise but things began to turn really busy after that. In fact using that same tool, I cloned and deployed more than 30 Ubuntu desktop.
So which is it? Clonezilla.
Halfway throght the list, Clonezilla fit the bill so well that it wasn’t necessary to try the other.
So far clonezilla has worked for me on Windows XP and Ubuntu system. It has even worked on virtual machine on VirtualBox.
How does it work?
First download a copy from the website. You can either get the ISO and burn it onto a CD or get the USB version and put it on an usb thumbdrive.
For newer PC, the BIOS can be set to boot up from a usb thumbdrive. By using this I deployed many desktops without CD drive.
CloneZilla is actually built on top of Linux (based on Debian and Ubuntu for the experimental version). So just insert the CD or thumbdrive and boot up the system.
Usage is rather simple and easy but you might want to try it out on a non-critical machine to get the hang of using it.
When using Clonezilla, there are a few terminolgies to pay attention and get to know well what they mean.
This means whether to save the existing disk/partition or to restore from a copy that was previously saved.
If it is the first time you are running, you probably want save.
If you are installing a new PC and want to use a clone of another PC, you will want to restore the clone onto the new PC.
Disk means the entire harddisk. Partition means just the partition you had selected to save or restore.
Clonezilla use compression and can take care of empty spaces, so even if you have a new 1T disk with a newly installed system, the resulting image should be rather small.
If the orignial disk or partition has different size, it might still work, but be careful, especially if the target is smaller than the original. To be safe make sure the disk to be cloned is the same as the original.
Clonezilla can save the disk or partition as an image. An image is a set of files that can be save somewhere (see the next section on image location). This image can then be used multiple times to clone new machines with the present of the original.
Also you upgrade the system you can create new image so that new clones get the updates as well.
Alternatively, you can directly clone a device to another device. If you have two identical hard disk attached, you can clone one to the other using a device-device mode.
Image save to/read from location
One thing I like so much about clonezilla it the flexibility it offers in terms of where to save/restore the image files.
Choose from, local partition (not the same as the one being saved), usb attached storage, network attach storage via NFS, Samba or even ssh.
If you have a Linux box running on the network, simply follow the few simple steps to configure the network and save the image via ssh. To clone a new machine, simply attach the network and copy back the image.
For businesses or home user with more than a few PC to mainain, Clonezilla can help to deploy standard setup, manage configuration, shortern setup time, and provide an easy way to backup.
Compared to commercial application that does similar task, it easily meet or exceed the task requirement of cloning disk and partition.
If you have used Clonezilla, tried other disk cloning tools or has other recommendation, why not leave a comment.
Where to get it?
- Clonezilla is at http://www.clonezilla.org/
- Current version: Stable version is 1.2.1-53
- Function: Disk/Partition Cloning