... a lot of people tell you not to and that the system will be unstable, maybe so but not always if your very careful. Back when i first started this project nearly a year ago i used Linux Mint Nadia Cinnamon Debian LMDE edition SPECIFICALLY not mate. I am using the same system now. I murked it up by testing too much too fast and without properly backing up first, i did use backup software from the repo list but it was all crap-ware and never suited my needs so in light of that, before i share my own recipe/list for you i would like you to be properly forewarned:
Always remove the hard drives, USB's, SD cards and all other such devices EXCEPT the device you choose to install from and to before doing so as a safety precaution. Countless times i had to use special recovery software because of such blond moments i had.
I became familiar with PartedMagic because it had everything i needed in it to deal with Linux in this capacity from cloning to partitioning to file recovery even.
Whatever device you choose for this make sure you have a second one of the exact same capacity and speeds. This is great not only for backups but testing to make a stable system from an unstable one because you won't need to start from scratch every time you mess up.
Lastly, don't let any one discourage you because these ideas are great learning processes however i wouldn't go posting a huge list of issues should you run into one. With all that necessarily said, hear is EXACTLY what i do as i do it:
I truly hope this helps and very best wishes to you, if i can be of any help don't hesitate to ask.