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I want to backup my /home partition on /dev/sda6 using partclone, a command line utility. To do so, I first have to unmount the partition that I want to backup. Most of the time, this is easy, but /home is used by so many processes that it can't be unmounted without first killing all those processes.

So, the thing I'm looking for is a way to boot Ubuntu, without mounting /home, so I can back up the not-mounted /dev/sda6 partition. Is that possible?

To be clear, it would be nice if this special boot could be 'one-time-only'. So I'm not looking for ways to change /etc/fstab in such way that /dev/sda6 won't be mounted. That's because that would require me to change /etc/fstab twice each time just to make a backup.

I'm aware of the fact that there are other backup solutions available, such as deja-dup. I'd like to use partclone, though.

share|improve this question
FYI, you gain nothing backing up a /home partition with tools like partclone and lose quite a bit. It is better to just use conventional backup tools like tar. – psusi Apr 12 '12 at 2:06
Could you say why? – Exeleration-G Apr 12 '12 at 8:21
There are several disadvantages to imaging: 1) The problem you have already run into: the partition can not be mounted, 2) you can not exclude certain files ( large iso images you can just download again? ), 3) You can not extract a few files from the image ( accidentally deleted a file? ), 4) you can not restore the image to a smaller partition, even if it is large enough to hold all of the files, and 5) you can not perform incremental backups. – psusi Apr 12 '12 at 13:39
Very clear, thanks! – Exeleration-G Apr 12 '12 at 14:38
up vote 5 down vote accepted
  1. You need to boot to single-user mode or recovery mode holding the shift button, after the computer starts. Then you can drop to root shell, so your home folder will be /root and not /home/username. Here you can freely unmount the /home partition, and do anything you would like.
  2. Use a live CD/USB to create the backup.
share|improve this answer
Especially the first solution sounds great. Will try it out tomorrow. – Exeleration-G Apr 11 '12 at 23:21

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