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How to back up the complete system

when you have physical access to the machine



2:47 pm on Jul 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've spent my spare time this year learning Linux, after a slow start I'm getting to grips with it.

I have a box running Centos4.5, apache, php, mysql and several other bits and bobs I've added. Because eventually I want to be able to manage a remote server I only use puTTY to access it.

To get to this point has taken many hours and I'm concious a slip up could destroy my setup. So is there a way to make a perfect copy of the system (including the OS) like Ghost for Windows?


4:06 pm on Jul 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Most disk-copying utilities like Ghost are typically delivered with two different executables - one for Windows, and a stand-alone version, which uses either DOS or Linux and typically boots from a CD.

Almost all of these programs can copy EXT2 and EXT3 partitions.

If you're using something fancier than EXT2/3 your choices will be more limited.

I use Paragon Drive Copy myself.


3:25 pm on Jul 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks, I have a Ghost boot disk, I'll give it a try.


8:43 pm on Jul 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lammert is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I routinely clone Linux harddisks with Ghost. Sometimes I however have to start from a Linux boot CD and run lilo to write an updated master boot record. It seems that the physical location of the boot images on the disk changes under some circumstances and then the lilo run is needed to write the correct boot image location in the MBR.

I also use Paragon Partition manager on Linux disks which is very useful to resize partitions. My old ghost version isn't capable of resizing partitions during the copy process.


9:38 am on Jul 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I would suggest using rsync, as that can be used to resynch the copy with the master while only transferring actual changes.


1:16 pm on Aug 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thank you all for the suggestions.

For now I'm using Ghost.

Rsynch is on my list of things to learn, as I know I'll need it when I upgrade to a remote VPS.


3:33 am on Aug 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Sorry, but don't ever use some commercial windows program to do your linux jobs for you. Linux has great tools built in to handle that, since you have a temporary solution I'll give you some tools to look into and a brief explanation on what they do and what the difference is.

rsync: I would not use this program, its primarily for network use like if you want to sync a directory to another system its insecure and slow.

dump: this is a great tool for backing up filesystems from disk to disk or disk to tape. I would say a great choice for backups.

dd: dd is one of the best tools for cloning a hard drive, it is a bit by bit hard drive clone tool. So lets say you have a 250g drive you would need another 250g drive so you can clone the primary 250g drive. If drive one fails all you need to do is move drive 2 (the DD clone) into drive one's position, then boot the system. Boom your backup!

cpio: This is like a "tar" but is better for backups IMO. It supports network backups so you can backup one system to another.

tar: Well tar is great and supports network backups as well.

I would never backup data over an insecure connection, look into how to tunnel tar and cpio over ssh its quite easy.

These are the low level tools available for free, but there are some great free backup tools as well, specifically Amanda (look it up on freshmeat.net).


12:50 pm on Sep 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I would use dd to make a clone and then use rsync to keep it up to date; dd is a bit slow for doing frequent backups whereas rsync can do just partial changes of files so it can be quite fast even with large systems if there are only a moderate number of files changing.


6:51 am on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

if you want to sync a directory to another system its insecure and slow

If you run rsync over ssh it's secure. And while rsync is most often used over "slower" networks, where its incremental ability is most important, it runs fine disk-to-disk as well, or over fast local networks.


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