7 Best Open Source “Disk Cloning/Backup” Tools for Linux Servers

Disk cloning is the process of copying data from a hard disk to another one, in fact, you can do this process by copy & paste but you won’t be able to copy the hidden files and folders or the in-use files, that’s why you need a cloning software to do the job, also you may need the cloning process to save a backup image from your files and folders.

Basically, the cloning software job is to take all disk data, convert them into a single .img file and give it to you, so you can copy it to another hard drive, and here we have the best 7 Open Source Cloning software to do the job for you.

1. Clonezilla

Clonezilla is a Live CD based on Ubuntu & Debian to clone all your hard drive data or to take a backup, licensed under GPL 3, it is similar to Norton Ghost on Windows but more effective.

Features

  1. Support for many filesystems like ext2, ext3, ext4, btrfs, xfs, and many other filesystems.
  2. Support for BIOS and UEFI.
  3. Support for MPR and GPT partitions.
  4. Ability to reinstall grub 1 and 2 on any attached hard drive.
  5. Works on weak computers ( 200 MB of RAM is needed only).
  6. Many other features.
Clonezilla for Linux
Clonezilla for Linux

Suggested Read: How to Clone or Backup Linux Disk Using Clonezilla

2. Mondo Rescue

Unlike other cloning software, Mondo Rescue doesn’t convert your hard drivers into an .img file, but it will convert them into an .iso image, you can also create a custom Live CD with Mondo using “mindi” which is a special tool developed by Mondo Rescue to clone your data from the Live CD.

It supports most Linux distributions, it also supports FreeBSD, and it is licensed under GPL, You can install Mondo Rescue by using the following link.

MondoRescue for Linux
MondoRescue

3. Partimage

Partimage is an open-source software backup, by default it works under Linux system and available to install from the package manager for most Linux distributions, if you don’t have a Linux system installed by default you can use “SystemRescueCd” which is a Live CD that include Partimage by default to do the cloning process that you want.

Partimage is very fast in cloning hard drivers, but the problem is that it doesn’t support ext4 or btrfs partitions, although that you can use it to clone other filesystems like ext3 and NTFS.

Partimage for Linux
Partimage

4. FSArchiver

FSArchiver is a continuation of Partimage, also a good tool to clone hard disks, it supports cloning Ext4 partitions and NTFS partitions, here’s a list of features:

Features

  1. Support for basic file attributes like owner, permissions, etc.
  2. Support for extended attributes like those used by SELinux.
  3. Support the basic file­system attributes (label, UUID, block­size) for all Linux file­systems.
  4. Support for NTFS partitions of Windows and Ext of Linux and Unix­Like.
  5. Support for checksums which enables you to check for data corruption.
  6. Ability to restore corrupted archives by just skipping the corrupted file.
  7. Ability to have more than one filesystem in an archive.
  8. Ability to compress the archive in many formats like lzo, gzip, bzip2, lzma/xz.
  9. Ability to split big files in size to a smaller one.

You can download FSArchiver and install it on your system, or you can download SystemRescueCD which also contains FSArchiver.

FSArchiver for Linux
FSArchiver

5. Partclone

Partclone is a free tool to clone & restore partitions, written in C in first appeared in 2007, it supports many filesystems like ext2, ext3, ext4, xfs, nfs, reiserfs, reiser4, hfs+, btrfs and it is very simple to use.

Licensed under GPL, it is available as a tool in Clonezilla as well, you can download it as a package.

Partclone for Linux
Partclone

6. G4L

G4L is a free Live CD system to clone hard disk easily, it’s the main feature is that you can compress the filesystem, send it via FTP or CIFS or SSHFS or NFS to any location you want, it also supports GPT partitions since version 0.41, it is licensed under BSD license and available to download for free.

G4L for Linux
G4L

7. doClone

doClone is also a free software project that is developed to clone Linux system partitions easily, written in C++, it supports up to 12 different filesystems, it can perform Grub bootloader restoration and can transform the clone image to other computers via LAN, it also supports live cloning which means that you can create a clone from the system even when it is up and running, doClone.

doClone for Linux
doClone

There are many other tools to clone your Linux hard disks, Have you used any cloning software from the above list to backup your hard drivers? Which one is best for you? and also tell us if any other tool if you know, which is not listed here.

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19 thoughts on “7 Best Open Source “Disk Cloning/Backup” Tools for Linux Servers”

  1. I tried Clonezilla. It seemed to work, but when I installed the backup drive to test it, the OS wouldn’t boot. I later found out about G4L and it has worked properly every time I have used it. I boot from a G4L CD to clone the internal drive to a backup.

    Reply
  2. Do try Systemback for cloning. You can end up with an ISO snapshot of your system and after rebooting from it you can do a full restore of itself on target partition. You may find it in recent linuxlire distros too. Enjoy.

    Reply
    • @Milton,

      No idea about SystemImager tool, is it open source and support Linux platform? have you ever tired it? how it works? could you share..

      Reply
  3. Couple basic problems with your article.

    1. Cloning is cloning – has NOTHING to do with an image. An image may be an intermediate container, but people just want to get from one to the other. So, for your comparison, note those that don’t need an intermediary container. Matters as cloning will be about twice or half as fast if an intermediate is/n’t needed.

    2. Offline (separately booted live cd), or Live (Online) – you haven’t noted which is which in each. e.g. You note doclone is (can be) live, but you don’t also do the same for mondorescue – which on live systems images the drive off to .iso’s, which through a mindi live rescue cd can be fetched across the network. So, is that an image? Arguable, but the point is 1. above – the intermediary container is just that. Not much germane to the topic of your article – cloning.

    I think you need to distinguish the purpose of the clone – migrate (to new drive, be it in place or not), backup (get your system back, perhaps due to file corruption), or live image (guard against hardware failure).

    To that end, you might also consider various forms of mirroring (‘RAID’) as cloning, be it mdm, lvm, zfs, btrfs, or hardware, and backup / file recovery (rsync) as viable mechanisms, depending upon what you’re trying to do. [So, step one, dear reader – Where is it you’re trying to go?]

    Exploring this would seem to be a welcome service. I came across this via googling “linux “live clone”‘ – nicely presented and written article (given caveats above) – expanding on the topic would appear to be worthwhile.

    Reply
  4. Mondo backup is the shit. It backs up the OS partition and bootloader to a bootable ISO image. In case of a restore just boot from the iso and its back instantly. I use it extensively.

    Reply

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