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You can make an image of the entire drive to a file, though keep in mind that you wont be able to open that image easily later on. If you want to make a backup that you can mount later and get files out of, you will need to image just individual partitions. A "dd" backup of the entire drive is only good for completely restoring the machine to a previous state.
Also, you can't make an image of a running system and expect to then be able to recover from that image later. There are many files that are in a different state when the machine is running than when it is shut down, and files are constantly being modified while the machine is in operation anyway. To get a usable backup, you will need to boot the machine to a live environment first so that the OS is shut down and nothing is changing.
If you don't have a CD drive, then things are a little more complicated. I would normally say to boot into a live CD and write the image that way, but it looks like in your case you will need to boot to one USB drive and write to a second one. Performance of this setup is probably going to be pretty bad due to the shared bandwidth nature of USB devices.
Ok, I understand that. My aim is to have an image that I can restore later, if I hose my current setup.
I don't have a CD handy that I can attach, but I do have an external USB HD attached, where I store all my files, just in case I need to replace the OS. I also have USB sticks available. So, I can boot from a USB, and write to the HD. I can then transfer the .ISO file from the HD to my network, and can use unetbootin to make a bootable USB version of my current system. Or, just restore it, correct?
Would be nice to have a small gui that asks where from and where to and then asks for a compression level.
Basically the command line is "dd" (copy) "if" (is from) "of" (is to)
If you want at the end you can include a | (pipe) gzip
That means, while you copy (dd) I want you to compress the file so I don't end up with a large file..
Might post a question on programming for this. I'd think that someone would be able to make a small app in a few minutes that does this.
I will say this however. I would suggest you boot to a usb flash drive. Then use dd or some app to copy data off to a second flash drive. Clonezilla can be put on a flash drive that may be fine for your use.