[sf-lug] Backups are important

RBV GoodWriter2548 at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 21 09:43:12 PST 2007


Since I seem to be the one who at some level started this conversation, I'll
try to contribute a couple of thoughts.

At present, I happily use Ghost to backup my dual-boot W2K Pro / Ubuntu 7.04
computer.  Omitting a few fiddly bits for purposes of clarity, the essential
steps are:

1. Use Ghost ghost to create an image of my tray-mounted "X" disk's
partitions on a separate, 180GB USB2 drive.

2. Remove the "X" drive and insert my identically partitioned tray-mounted
"Y" backup drive into the computer.

3. Use Ghost to write the backup image from the USB2 drive onto the
secondary "Y" drive, then test the restored partitions for bootability.

I'll add that I recently learned that the use of Ghost's "-ial" command line
switch is necessary to image the EXT3 file system used by Ubuntu Feisty.
EXT3's Ghost images created without this switch won't run after after being
restored.  (FWIW, imaging EXT2 partitions doesn't require the "-ial" switch...)

The essential point is regardless of any aesthetic or theological offenses
committed by using Ghost, IT WORKS  -- easily and reliably: I can readily
create and restore a complete and accurate copy of my disk.

It was with my mind already "contaminated" by this happy work flow that I
started researching Linux-based ways to backup partitions and disks.  Being
an Ubuntu user I thought the Ubuntu forums might be a nice place to start.

Well, more than two months later the resulting thread is even this morning
being updated with contradictory assertions of the "always do" / "never do"
sort.  That active discussion is regularly punctuated by desperate pleas for
help from readers who tried one or more of the recommended strategies only
to render their backup systems inoperative.

Well, it seems to me that a vigorous debate is NOT a workable backup strategy...

Along the way, I've learned about a variety of Linux-based programs, all of
which seem to contain one or more flaws of varying severity.  For example
most of the programs:

- Seem designed to perform backups across a high-speed network rather than a
directly attached USB2 drive

- Presume that the person doing the backup has a systems administrator
mindset rather than a mere user mindset

- Require the selection -- and exclusion -- of directories and files rather
than entire partitions and disks

- Operate ambiguously, such that one can only be partially sure that the
restore process delivered a complete and wholly accurate backup system

- Forget that one can experiment with any potentially destructive backup
processes only *after* one has a successful backup strategy in place

As a result, two months later I'm still looking for a straightforward,
unambiguous, reliable method of using Linux to backup and restore my
dual-boot partitions (as differentiated from files).

Stated another way, I have yet to find any Linux-based alternative that
surpasses Ghost for ease of use and reliability.

By the by, here's a new entry in my list of possibilities:


Note that there seems to be a "Live" CD version of Clonezilla that performs
very Ghost-like imaging and restorals.

To be continued...

Cheers, thanks, & hope this helps,

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