Tuesday, May 29, 2012


So I am getting a new computer this week. As usual, I follow a strict methodology of preparation for new equipment.

Today's post will be about CloneZilla (http://clonezilla.org/).
In short, CloneZilla is a free Linux based disaster recovery imaging system like Norton Ghost.

Whenever I get a new computer running Windows or Linux, I run clonezilla. Before even booting it, I always clone the drive into a disk image. The drive may be 750GB but the OS install and apps may only take up 20GB. Using clonezilla, I save a factory fresh, ready-to-restore image to a portable drive or to a NAS server (via SFTP). In the event I want to sell an older computer, I can restore the drive to its factory original state.

After I install my applications and set up my system, I do another clone image in case of disaster, viruses, or anything unexpected.

Clonezilla can be installed on to a bootable USB stick or CD.

Usage is very straightforward. You pick a drive or partition you want to clone. You can clone to another drive or as image files. The image files can be an external drive or to a remote server volume. The image files are chunked into small pieces so they can fit on file-systems like FAT32.

Restoring is the opposite process. It interface is old school command-line menu. There is nothing to click and it isn't pretty but it works.

Instead of a barebone Clonezilla install, I suggest PartedMagic. PartedMagic is a complete bootable Linux distro with a bunch of tools which include Clonezilla, Gparted (for redoing partitions), Trucerypt, TestDisk (for recovering files off a crashed hard drive), and a bunch of other recovery applications.

In addition to physical machines, I routinely use CloneZilla along with Gpart to upsize or enlarge Virtual Machine images. For example, if I have a 8GB VM that I want to grow to 20GB, I use Clonezilla to clone and gpart to increase the partition size. Hence, I suggest using a distro like PartedMagic.

More info on PartedMagic can be found here: http://partedmagic.com/doku.php

On the mac, there is always Carbon Cloner. Macs have the beauty using of Target Disk Mode which is where a mac can be booted into a disk drive mode that another mac can mount and use. Hence, I never had to use anything like Clonezilla for imaging on a macintosh.

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