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Old 07. Jan 2016, 12:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Back Up Linux System?

My head must be thick or something but I am looking for some advice on how to back up my Linux system.

This is my current setup: I am dual booting Linux Mint Cinnamon with Windows 10. I also have a dedicated NTFS partition where I store all my personal data. I have a backup plan in place where I use Macrium to image Windows and my data partition to an external hard drive. However, I don't have a backup plan for my Linux system, i.e. / (root).

Looking around, I found this article which looks like exactly what I want. However, due to my inexperience I am lost in some places. I hope some knowledgeable person would be kind enough to explain the following to me:

Under the heading "Backing Up", it advises you to make your backup on external media (like an external hard drive) but it doesn't tell you how to navigate to your external media, or a directory in your external media. Instead, the article uses cd / as an example which is not in line with that advice.

As a sort of test, I connected my external hard drive and opened a Terminal window. Next, I tried to navigate to a sub directory on the hard drive where I would like to store my backups. To my dismay I was only able to navigate as far as /media/ntfs. At that point I could list my main directories with the ls command but could navigate no further. I did notice though that the directories were listed with a green background which made me suspect that something was different.

My questions are: How can I navigate to a sub directory on my external hard drive? Is it because my external hard drive is formatted in NTFS that's preventing me from navigating further than the root of the drive? If I partition my external hard drive and create an EXT partition would I then be able to navigate to the sub directories in that partition?

Last but not least, should I try another backup method instead? What's the easiest way to backup and restore my Linux system?
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Old 07. Jan 2016, 09:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Last but not least, should I try another backup method instead? What's the easiest way to backup and restore my Linux system?
My preference is Clonezilla (I actually use it for Windows 7).
Dedoimedo has a good tutorial here.
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Old 07. Jan 2016, 12:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for your input Sope. I did read Dedoimedo's tutorial but I was leaning toward the tar/gzip thingy. Unless I'm mistaken, I should be able to make a tar.gz backup from within a session rather than ending a session and then booting into Clonezilla to achieve the same basic objective. To me, this is less cumbersome and should be the preferred method to make a backup unless there advantages to using Clonezilla that I am unaware of.

Last edited by Joe A.TT; 07. Jan 2016 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 07. Jan 2016, 02:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Back Up Linux System?

Clonezilla +1

Macrium Free, in my experience, works great to back up linux so long as linux is on an external drive. For six months in 2015, I ran a Puppy variant on an external HDD and backed it up with Macrium when I ran Win10 to the internal HDD. Macrium always restored linux flawlessly. Anyway, some of the backup experts here or at Wilders may be able to walk you through some alternatives with Macrium that are beyond me (it is an amazing app!).
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Old 07. Jan 2016, 02:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I was leaning toward the tar/gzip thingy. Unless I'm mistaken, I should be able to make a tar.gz backup from within a session rather than ending a session and then booting into Clonezilla
Can't help with that but I'll be interested to see what you eventually find to get the job done.
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Old 07. Jan 2016, 03:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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@tnylnxgy,
Thanks for your input. I suppose I should have mentioned I did try Macrium. Everything appeared to be fine when I did a backup with Macrium but restoring was a different story altogether. When restoring recently, Macrium wiped out a data partition which was sitting next to Linux! Good thing I had a backup otherwise I would have been devastated. In hindsight, Macrium isn't really cross platform so I suppose lots of things could go wrong. I don't know what your own experience is but I'd be cautious about using Macrium to backup Linux.

@Sope,
Thanks. I'll keep looking.
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Old 08. Jan 2016, 01:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I did try Macrium. Everything appeared to be fine when I did a backup with Macrium but restoring was a different story altogether. When restoring recently, Macrium wiped out a data partition which was sitting next to Linux! Good thing I had a backup otherwise I would have been devastated. In hindsight, Macrium isn't really cross platform so I suppose lots of things could go wrong. I don't know what your own experience is but I'd be cautious about using Macrium to backup Linux.
Macrium Reflect works with disks irrespective of what OS is on them so your problem is not as such a cross-platform issue. I've used Macrium Reflect to backup Linux for many years. It is probably the only product that I've used for that purpose and I never had a problem. I have commonly used Reflect to recover from incompatibilities between the various Linux distros I have installed.

Here's the specifics of cross-platform support for anyone else who doesn't know the details.
  • Macrium Reflect runs in Windows but can backup Linux systems. Reflect can image Windows drives while they are in use because Windows supports this but I wouldn't even try to use Reflect to image a Linux drive while it Linux is running.
  • Reflect supports GPT (and MBR if you use it in Linux) partitions.
  • Reflect supports the LINUX file systems EXT2 and EXT3.
  • The Rescue CD has a Linux option to restore backups. For many years the Linux Rescue CD was the only reliable option because the Windows PE option was unreliable.
I don't know if the problem you had was a bug but one common issue with Reflect is that it gives too much information and too many options which can be confusing. A lot of restore issues also occur because people (that includes me) forget that partitions and boot information are often interrelated so it is best to keep them in sync.

I'm sure that we had a good thread on Linux backup but I couldn't find it. Here's some others on backing up linux:
Drive imaging, the best way of system restore mentions Linux DD which you could use to make "bit-identical images". The DD fork DCLFDD is probably the better option.
Linux Backups

These articles seem good sources for more options for you:
21 of the best free Linux backup software
UBUNTU - Backup your system
Top six Linux disk imaging and cloning software
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Old 08. Jan 2016, 02:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for chiming in Remah.

It is quite possible that what happened isn't Macrium's fault. I am really not knowledgeable enough to determine the cause but all the same it has me very wary of using Macrium now. I will still use Macrium to backup Windows and my NTFS data partition but I am looking for an alternative to backup my Linux partition.

Thanks also for taking the time to lookup and post all those links. I did come across some of those same articles myself because I did a lot of research before posting here. The problem I have is many articles don't make a distinction between file backup and system backup. The latter is what I am interested in and sometimes I have to dig quite a bit into an article only to find out it isn't what I want. Other times, I can't find out whether a program (e.g. Redo Backup and Recovery) supports GPT disks, which is what I have. In the end, I think I'll give Clonezilla a try, if only because more tutorials exist for it.
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Old 08. Jan 2016, 10:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Okay, just to bring this thread to a conclusion, I ended up using Clonezilla Live. I slapped it on a flash drive with YUMI and the backup went quite well. Dedoimedo's instructions are a bit out dated but still helpful nevertheless. Thanks to all.
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Old 09. Jan 2016, 01:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Okay, just to bring this thread to a conclusion, I ended up using Clonezilla Live.
Let us know how it goes. I'm interested in how it compares with other imaging software because Clonezilla is recommended by so many people.
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