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[Discuss] How do Linux guys back up Windows?

On Thu, 27 Dec 2012 13:27:16 -0500
Mark Woodward <markw at> wrote:

> Windows probably won't run, without difficulty, on a new system after
> a restore.

This is just as true for Linux as it is for Windows. If the hardware is
different, or if the BIOS/EFI is configured differently, then the initrd
won't be right, the device IDs won't be right, and there may be other
issues including network and X server configurations.

> If you are replacing a hard disk, you may need to get one with the
> same disk layout.

This is not necessarily true. Clonezilla can restore NTFS images to
non-identical geometries or partition layouts. It can be dicey if the
target is smaller than the source but this is true for any low-level
backup regardless of operating system.

> If you are adding space,  you should just add a volume and back that
> up as a set of files.

This works modulo NTFS security lists. In my case I use a small
(typically 60GB) partition for the OS plus applications and a big
partition for data and everything else. I make junctions (NTFS-speak
for symbolic links) from my profile directory to the respective
directories on the data partition. This layout makes for an easier
restoration after a catastrophic failure. It also works with a small
SSD for the system volume and a big data disk for page file and data.

Meanwhile, Jerry asked:

> One question. On a multi-boot system, can you use dd(1) to clone the
> Windows partition so it can be restored to a workable condition.
> Certainly this is probably not an option for a standalone Windows
> system.

Yes, but with the caveat that if you don't restore to an identical disk
then it won't work. The partitioning or geometry will be off and the
boot loader won't be able to find the files it needs. You'd have
similar problems with Linux, AIX, Solaris or what have you. It
would be better to use an imaging tool like partclone. Clonezilla uses
partclone and, as a live CD/USB, it is effectively a multi-boot system
so you can get at the NTFS volumes in a quiescent state.

Rich P.

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