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robot85 10-10-2010 10:33 AM

Disk Imaging using g4l. A few questions.
I want to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7 via normal partitioning on my laptop. BUT I want to image my hard drive (make an image of the entire disk and put the image file onto my external hard drive). I've been trying out different programs in Virtual Box. I've tried Clonezilla, partimage, and G4L (Ghost for Linux). The first two did not work. However, g4l backed up the virtual hard disk successfully onto another virtual hard disk.

The problem is, g4l is VERY confusing. All I want to do is image a whole hard disk and put that image file onto my external hard drive WITHOUT deleting/formatting the external hard drive. When I did it on VirtualBox, it did not format or delete anything on the second vhd. But I want to make sure it won't happen with my external drive, because there is a LOT of data (very important) on the external. I could not afford to lose it.

So, my questions are:

1. Will g4l format or delete anything on the target (external) drive?

2. Does g4l backup free (empty) space with the file? (It doesn't appear to, as the image file on the vm was only about 1GB, while the vhd was 20, but only had about 4gb of used space)

3. Are there better/safer programs for this? I tried Acronis. My mouse doesn't work in the boot cd.

I also asked about this on the Ubuntu forums and the Linux forums, but have yet to get a response.

btncix 10-11-2010 10:01 PM

I've never used g4l, but I've learned that it can do both a bit by bit copy or an only used bits backup. For what you want to do, it will probably have to be a bit by bit copy, so even the unused bits will get saved.

Depending on the sizes of your dual boot hard drive and external hard drive, you may want to consider backing up each partition separately and backup only the used bits. The downside to this is that you will also have to save the partition record of your dual boot hard drive.

A bit by bit backup will be easier, but it will also take more time and take up more space.

A simpler program to use for bit by bit copying is the dd command on Linux. You will need a live Linux CD to do what you want to do however.

1. boot up your computer with live Linux CD - choose from several options such as Parted Magic, SystemRescue, Clonezilla, etc.
2. mount only the external hard drive - let's say you mount the external hard drive to /mnt/externalhd
3. to back up the dual boot hard drive:
dd if=/dev/sdX of=/mnt/external/theSaveAsFilename
/dev/sdX refers to your dual boot hard drive

4. to restore
dd if=/mnt/externaltheSaveAsFilename of=/dev/sdX

5. use Google to check how other people use dd to backup and restore their hard drives instead of blindly following what I wrote here

Test this entire process in VirtualBox before actual doing it on your real system.

Lastly, I would make a back up of your external hard drive if the data on it is that important. You don't want to get into a situation where you mistype and ruin your external hard drive.

robot85 10-12-2010 08:42 PM

Thanks for the reply. I was already told that I could use the dd command. However, I tried it in a virtual box and it took FOREVER. At some points it was less than 1mb/min. It's a complete waste of time and is unreliable and dangerous. I've also tried Clonezilla and it messes up on the first partition (sda1) with "Something went wrong!!!" (very informative error[/sarcasm]) but works with all the other partitions. It's a shame too, because Clonezilla is the easiest to understand and use.

And unfortunately I have nowhere to backup the external HD, as it is a whopping 1TB (there is only ~300GB of space left on it :p); it is my main (only besides DVDs) provider of backup. I have used G4l on the vm. It does not delete any data on the target drive. But it is so confusing that I could mess something up with it.

I may end up just copying my important data and making Windows reinstall disks (using HP's program made for that purpose) that include the drivers on the laptop. Because having both the reinstall discs and a reinstall partition is sort of pointless. All I really need to backup is the My Documents folder, because I doubt I will mess up the hd (as I have partitioned before when I reinstalled Windows XP on my dad's computer).

But it would be nice to image the hard drive so I wouldn't have to reinstall programs all over again.

I just wish it wasn't so dang difficult and hard to understand. :(

Edit: Oh, and I haven't made the dual-boot yet.

btncix 10-12-2010 09:25 PM

What file system was on the first partition? How were the backup results using partimage for each partition?

robot85 10-13-2010 03:19 PM


Originally Posted by btncix (Post 4125515)
What file system was on the first partition? How were the backup results using partimage for each partition?

The first partition was ext4. And as for partimage, sorry I remember now that I ended up not using it because it would only backup individual partitions.

btncix 10-13-2010 04:01 PM

I understand your dilemma, but there is one last thing to consider. Assuming that partimage does work for each of your partitions, and that its inability to clone entire disks is your only dislike against partimage, you may want to still consider using partimage via command line. This way, you could execute a shell script to run partimage for all your partitions and save it to a target directory on your external hard drive. Doing it this way would allow you to backup your entire disk with one command execution. Just a note - your script would have to include methods of saving the partition table and mbr. This is just a suggestion. You could also check with LQ on how to extract a better error report from clonezilla.

msetzerii 11-10-2010 03:45 AM

G4L backups.
In using g4l with the local backups the process can be confusing to some.
I've had a number of people say this, but have not gotten suggestions on home it might be changed??

Which version are you using?

On the local use menu.
Option A: is used to select the external disk you are using.
That would be your USB disk. It should be formatted as something other than Fat32, since that only supports files of 2 to 4GB. NTFS or ext3 work fine. It only mounts the disk to /mnt/local, so no current files on the disk should be effected unless you use an image name that matches with an already existing file on the disk.
Note: Must use space bar to select partition to use.

1:, 2:, and 3: use other methods to mount remote disks to the same /mnt/local.

Option B: should then display a list of files that already exist on that partition to select if you want to reuse them. Pressing enter will let you enter a new name for the image. Again. Space Bar to Select.

Generally you will leave C: and D: options at default.

Option E: would be used if you want to backup a disk or raw partition
Option N: would be used if you want to backup an ntfs partition

None of the above should be able to overwrite any data, unless the new image machine is an existing file.

Now Restoring with F: and O: would complete erase anything on the partition or disk.

I'm the current maintainer of g4l, and generally check the sourceforge site every day, so that is the best place to ask questions.

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