Using Clonezilla to create and restore disk images

Tested on 6 February 2012 using clonezilla-live-1.2.11-23-i486

Running Clonezilla:

Note: Before using Clonezilla see the limitations section on the home page: http://clonezilla.org/ Web icon.
  1. Download an ISO image of the latest stable version and burn it to disc (or create bootable USB).
  2. Insert the disc in the CD drive and shut down the computer.
  3. Start the computer and boot from the source of the Clonezilla media (CD drive or bootable USB).
    If booting from a USB: For older BIOS options, try USB-HDD first. If not USB-ZIP may work, USB-FDD is usually unsupported.

    Source: Pendrivelinux: Common USB BIOS boot options Web icon

Creating a disk or partition image:

  1. Select Clonezilla live (Default settings) and press enter
  2. Select a language (English) and press enter
  3. Configure the keymap (Don't touch keymap) and press enter
  4. Select Start Clonezilla and press enter
  5. Select the mode (device-image) and press enter
  6. Select where to save the image to (local_dev) and press enter
    If the local-dev option is selected and the image is being saved to a FAT32 file system, be aware that FAT32 cannot handle files larger than 4GB so if the image exceeds this it will probably fail.
  7. If backing up to a USB device, add it now and wait for it to be found. Once found, Clonezilla should display New USB device found or similar. Press enter and wait while all devices are mounted and displayed
  8. Next Clonezilla needs to mount a device in /home/partimag to enable it to save the image. Select a device or partition where the backup image is to be saved (not the device or partition that is to be imaged as a back up)
  9. Choose a directory for the backup image (only the top directories are shown) and press enter
  10. The file system of the device is listed, press enter to continue
  11. Select the wizard mode; beginner or expert (beginner) and press enter
  12. Select what to save; the full disk (savedisk) or a partition (saveparts) and press enter
    For Windows 7, if you have multiple partitions and only want to back up the OS partition, you should still select both the 100MB system reserved (usually sda1) and the operating system partition (usually sda2).
  13. Enter a name for the image and press enter
  14. Select (using the spacebar) the disk or partition to be backed up and press enter
  15. Select whether to check and repair the file system before saving (default) and press enter
  16. Select whether to check if the image is restorable (default) and press enter
  17. Clonezilla now displays a single command that can be run (with these settings) next time an image is required, press enter to continue
  18. A warning is displayed to confirm that you want to continue, press y
  19. When the backup is complete, Clonezilla will display a summary, press enter to continue
  20. Finally, select an option (poweroff, reboot etc)

Restoring a disk or partition image:

Note: An image will typically fail to restore as expected if any of the following are not true:
  • Each target partition should be at least the same size (not smaller) than the imaged partition
  • Each target partition should use the same file system as the imaged partition
  • Each target partition should use the same partition name (e.g. /dev/sda1, /dev/hda5) as the imaged partition

If the partition layout has been modified since the image was created it may well be necessary to recreate it on the drive as it was, before attempting to restore the image. To do this use GParted Web icon or similar.

Another solution that ensures the partition layout is the same as when the image was taken is to (temporarily) install a new OS (as used in the image) onto the drive, creating the same partitions* as before. This will allow the installer to set the partition layout as it was when the image was taken. Next, use Clonezilla to overwrite this new install with the backup image.

* Windows 7, for instance, creates an additional 100MB reserved partition (for bit-locker).

To find the partition layout information of an existing image, search in the same directory as the image for a file named Info-lshw.txt. Within this file, view the data below the -disk entry.
  1. Select Clonezilla live (Default settings) and press enter
  2. Select a language (English) and press enter
  3. Configure the keymap (Don't touch keymap) and press enter
  4. Select Start Clonezilla and press enter
  5. Select the mode (device-image) and press enter
  6. Select where to read the image from (local_dev) and press enter
  7. If restoring from a USB device, add it now and wait for it to be found. Once found, Clonezilla should display New USB device found or similar. Press enter and wait while all devices are mounted and displayed
  8. Next Clonezilla needs to mount a device in /home/partimag to enable it to read the image. Select a device or partition that contains the backup image (not the device or partition that is to be restored)
  9. Choose the directory that contains the backup image (only the top directories are shown) and press enter
  10. The file system of the device is listed, press enter to continue
  11. Select the wizard mode; beginner or expert (beginner) and press enter
  12. Select what to restore; the full disk (restoredisk) or a partition (restoreparts) and press enter
  13. Select (using the spacebar) the disk or partition image to be restored and press enter
  14. Select the target (this is the device or partition that is to be restored) and press enter
  15. Clonezilla now displays a single command that can be run next time this image needs to be restored, press enter to continue
  16. A warning is displayed to confirm that you want to continue, press y
  17. Once the has been restored, Clonezilla will display a summary, press enter to continue
  18. Finally, select an option (poweroff, reboot etc)
Master Boot Record (MBR):

The MBR Web icon is used by most operating systems to boot up. It isn't, however, located on a partition.

When imaging only partitions the MBR will not be included in the backup. If the disk is imaged then the MBR is included.

This can cause a problem when restoring if the MBR has since been modified; perhaps by installing another operating system.

For this reason, if you only have a small disk to back up (or lots of spare disk space and plenty of time), it may be safer (easier) to just take an image of the whole disk. This will virtually guarantee a painless restore if it's required.

Many people, however, set up their disks with multiple partitions, dual-boot and have large data partitions that are already backed up using other methods and so imaging the whole disk is cumbersome.

If, after restoring an image, the operating system does not boot, it may be necessary to repair the MBR:

Note: If you had any custom boot options set up (dual-booting etc), then this will need to be recreated.

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