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I need OS-independent, bootable software that can create full disk backups of bootable drives.

I'm going to use Microsoft Surface Pro 2 with Ubuntu: instead of dual-booting, I'll just erase Windows that comes with the device and install Ubuntu on it. Before that, I'll back up Windows, so, should anything go wrong with Ubuntu, I'll always have an option to restore Windows to its initial state, just as it was after the installation. I would also like to be able to back up Ubuntu in the same manner.

Software should have a compression of some kind, so that backup of 512 GB drive won't take up 512 GB, but less than 64 GB instead, so it will fit on widely available 64GB USB/micro-SDXC cards. I know it is doable, because Surface Pro 2 comes in a variety with 64GB disk, so there should be less than 64 GB of actual data, same goes for Ubuntu.

I'd like to install that backup software on a micro-SD or USB flash bootable drive and be able to put my backups there; it will be my all-in one rescue-and-restore drive. I'm looking into creating a multi-boot drive with all kinds of boot disks I would like to put on it.

I don't want to rely on proprietary software for that, so open-source is highly preferred, but is not a strict requirement: if a proprietary application does the job better, I'll consider it.

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Try Clonezilla Live:

Clonezilla is a partition and disk imaging/cloning program similar to True Image® or Norton Ghost®. It helps you to do system deployment, bare metal backup and recovery.

  • Bootable from CD/USB
  • OS independent
  • free and open-source
  • disk to disk or disk to image clone

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Screenshots from http://clonezilla.org/

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    Forgot to say: last time I googled around, I found Clonezilla and used it, but I found it not without fault. I used some option or other that I thought would result in a usable backup, but actually didn't. I am not sure whether ny complain is legit, but it looked to me like there are to many confusing options: should I save local disk as an image or save local partitions as an image? Should I restore an image to local disk or local partitions? Some of the answers are wrong. Commented May 3, 2014 at 16:49
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    I am ok with command line and pseudo-graphical interfaces, though. For a while I thought about modifying my Clonezilla image to streamline it by removing the unnecessary (for me) options, but never got around to doing it. So, now I am looking for other options to consider, but if I won't find a better one, I'll turn to CloneZilla. Should I update my question? Commented May 3, 2014 at 16:52
  • OTOH, yours is a legitimate answer to this question and Clonezilla might be useful for others who will find this question. Commented May 3, 2014 at 16:55
  • No other options and only 37 views in a month. That's sad :( Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 20:51
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I realize this is a very old topic, but for anyone else who may stumble across it.

On top of Clonezilla, you could try creating your own.

  1. Get a barebones version of your favorite OS. I used Devuan myself.

  2. Install it on a virtual machine or on an empty partition/disk so you can work on it.

  3. Boot into the newly installed OS.

  4. Install what you need to create backups (rsync, etc). You may also want some kind of GUI network setup tool, especially if you're not comfortable working with the command line. I can't tell you how many times ifconfig has failed to work for me even on a completely new install....

  5. (optional) make some helper scripts to get you where you need to go in one command or click.

  6. (optional) uninstall all the stuff you're probably never going to use, an example might be the print spooler unless you reeeeeeeally need to print stuff while it's working

  7. Make an (ISO) disk image and install it on (move it to, etc) your boot media. I used Refracta Installer to make the disk image and to install, but you may want to shop around for something that works better for you. Refracta has all the usual disclaimers that if you mess up it's on you, but I have installed, and made images, several times using it and never had an issue, so at least in my experience it is 100% safe. You can also use something simple like dd to install to USB, but I don't know how effective that is since I hate using USB boot media.

  8. Simply boot your main computer with the boot media, and use the installed programs/commands/helper scripts to back up whatever you like!

Obviously this isn't OS agnostic, due to whatever OS is used as a base, but on the other hand it is incredibly flexible and you can custom make whatever you like for complete control. I use this method to make recovery disks (which I also do backups on for my main drives) and it works like a charm every time. I love it!

You will have to be careful if you plan to restore the final backup using a different operating system, though. You will need to make sure whatever operating system you use can handle every step in your restoration procedure. Like, for example, extraction and mirroring to disk/partition/image/etc.

You may also want to make sure you use universal formats, procedures and programs wherever possible, to make your life that much easier in case you change operating systems or need to use a really old backup disk for whatever reason.

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