Back Up With Clonezilla (Part 3) - Use The Network, Disks And Partitions

9/12/2012 6:46:21 PM

4.    Use The Network

The networking options include an SSH server, Samba server and NFS server. If you want to back up your PC to an NAS drive on the local network, then select the Samba server option. Samba is software that runs on Linux to enable it to work with Windows computers on a wired or wireless network. The operating system in an NAS drive is actually a Linux server and it uses Samba to allow Windows computers and devices to connect to its disk to read and store files.

Select 'samba_server' in Clonezilla and the next step depends on whether you're using a wired or wireless connection to the network. The biggest limitation with Clonezilla is with support for wireless networking and it's the one thing that could prevent you from using the software. If you have an LAN cable to connect the PC to the router, you'll find that Clonezilla works perfectly. This is not only simpler, it's also preferable for backups, because a wired connection is faster and more reliable than a Wi-Fi link. Clonezilla attempts to use a Wi-Fi adapter if its available, but it won't work in all computers. You should be okay if the PC has a common chipset, though.

To connect to a wired or wireless network, the computer needs an IP address. This can be a static one in which the IP address is set manually and never changes or it can be obtained through DHCP. Most home routers are set up to assign IP addresses to computers and devices automatically when they're detected, which is DHCP. Select the DHCP option to continue unless you're sure your PC has a fixed IP address and can enter it manually.

With the PC's IP address assigned, Clonezilla can connect to the NAS drive and it asks for the IP address of the Samba server. Right at the start we found this and now you can enter it. It will be something similar to Next you need to enter the Windows workgroup and again we saw this earlier when looking up the NAS drive settings.

On the next 'Mount Samba server' screen, you must enter a username. Enter the one used when logging into the NAS drive to access the setup menus. The default is often something like 'admin', but you may have changed this to something else. Then you're prompted for the directory to save the backup to. This must exist, so think about what you see when you access the NAS drive in Windows Explorer. If the NAS drive has a 'Shared' folder, for example, then Clonezilla can save to '/shared'. Finally, a NAS drive password is required. Use the one required when logging into the drive to change the settings.

Description: An NAS drive is a Samba server. You'll need to know its IP address and other details

An NAS drive is a Samba server. You'll need to know its IP address and other details

5.    Disks And Partitions

After connecting to an NAS drive or a USB disk and selecting the folder to save the backup, you now have a choice of either saving the disk or partitions. Choose 'savedisk' if you want to save a complete copy of the whole disk drive with all its partitions. Saving a single partition is faster because less information has to be backed up, but a partial backup doesn't give you the security of a full backup.

The rest is straightforward and the default name given to the backup image is based on the date, but it can be edited and changed to whatever you want. One of the last things to do is to choose the disk to actually back up. It's obvious if there's only one drive in the PC, but if you have two internal drives or an internal and USB drive, the disk labelled 'sda' is the one to select. Skip the option to check the drive for errors, because it should not be used on Windows disks. The final option is whether to check the saved backup image is okay and can be restored. It is useful to do this of course, but it does add significantly to the total time taken.

Select savedisk to save the whole disk drive including all the partitions

6.    Advanced Options

There are actually a few more steps than outlined above, one of which is to select either beginner or expert mode. If you're backing up a Windows disk, then beginner mode is fine and it works perfectly. A dual-booting PC with both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 partitions using a Grub boot loader didn't work in beginner mode and it only worked with advanced mode settings. Advanced mode is also useful when restoring the disk drive too.

In advanced mode there's a choice of backup and restore modes and when backing up, savedisk is the one to use. When restoring a disk drive, you would select the 'restoredisk' option, which restores a backup image on an external USB drive or NAS drive to the disk in the PC.

If a backup fails in beginner mode, select advanced mode, choose 'savedisk' and then there's a choice of four priority options. Priority: 'Only dd' is the most compatible because it supports all filesystems and was the one that works on the dualboot PC Clonezilla was tested on. The other options are faster, but read the status messages on the screen after a backup and make sure there are no errors.

Description: Select advanced mode for extra backup options and to restore a disk or partition

Select advanced mode for extra backup options and to restore a disk or partition

Test It In Virtualbox

Clonezilla is a powerful tool and some options seem complicated at first sight. You might want to experiment with it and explore the menus and settings in a safe environment before using it on your PC. VirtualBox ( is a great way to test it. This free software lets you install and run other operating systems in a window on the desktop. It's a bit like running a Sinclair Spectrum or C64 emulator on your PC, only you run Windows or Linux instead. You'll need to install an OS to create a disk for Clonezilla to back up and there are lots of Linux distros like Ubuntu ( if you don't have a Windows disc to install.

Boot the Windows or Linux virtual machine using the Clonezilla CD and back it up. Then create a new virtual machine and restore it to the blank disk just to familiarise yourself with the procedure.

(Micro Mart - 26 July 2012, Page 60-63)

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