I want to copy the entire contents of my main/every day usage hard drive, to an exact same size/brand hard drive already installed on the same machine.
You can attain this through either of the two simple means: using, "dd" or using "rsync".
Using 'dd'--do this as root:
1. As the two drives are already running in the same machine both should be seen already when the system is running. To check this--
You should be able to identify which is the old and the new drive. The old drive presumably is the one used by the system so you can only consult the running system's fstab--
see if an /dev/sda (or /dev/hda) is the one used in the running system, so this is the one you should copy to the other one (assuming the new one is called /dev/sdc or /dev/hdc whatever name is used).
After ascertaining which is the old and the new you have need first to ascertain if their partitions are geometrically equal (some systems use different partitions for mounting different system directories like /tmp, /var, or /boot, both disks need to be identical in sequence and size if you want the second copy to be like and exact image, 'parted -l'
is more informative than 'fdisk -l'
parted -l /dev/sda (or /dev/hda) <press Ctl+C to exit>
parted -l /dev/sdc (or /dev/sdc) <press Ctl+C to exit>
Note down the sequence of partitions. If they differ you still have time to correct the terrain (geometry) of the new disk to match to the old by using Gparted a gui partitioner. Note also to mark (FLAG) the bootable partition in the new disk to be same with the partition number as in the old disk --so that you can even boot from the copy disk.
Use paper and pen to note down the disks. If you mistake dd for writing the new disk into the old consequence is you delete all data from the old drive and writing it empty. 'dd' is very powerful tool and very stupid at that: it does whatever you tell it to do, no questions asked, no complaint.
Having both disks identical more or less you may now copy the old disk to the new disk:
dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdc bs=2048
(get a cup of coffee and newspaper to let alone the computer and finish the work).
That command copies not only the folders but the MBR as well of the old. When copying succeeds, you may set the Bios to boot to the copied drive and you can boot into it as much as you have booted into the old drive.
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Using "rsync"--do this as root:
You will treat the two (source and destination) as folders, not as disks, unlike 'dd'.
Boot from the old disk and mount the new disk:
mount -o rw /dev/sdc /mnt/newdisk
Now copy everything, files and folders, from the old disk to the new disk:
rysnc -v -r -l / /mnt/newdisk --perms
(get a cup of coffee and newspaper, let alone the computer to finish the work).
The copied files/dirs on the new disk are exact copies of the old but the new disk is not bootable until reconfigured to boot.
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I know my hardware is "retro" and plan to build a new 64 bit system (sooner than later I hope).
I don't know what is retro.
But until I get that project together I want to have everything including the op sys on a second backup hard drive. I am a bit confused about "dump" vrs "copy" and would appreciate if you could point me to a simplistic step by step tutorial. As I am and old guy with 6yr and 4yr old sons I need something I can print out and follow as constant distraction often leads me astray when trying to rely on my memory most of the time.
The methods I pointed above are the most simple, more reliable than "copy and paste", and fitting to your objective. There is no need to use backup utilities for these types of witchcrafts still use the same commands as given above. Your fingers and certainly more reliable than other men's concoctions.
Hope that helps.