New to the forums and running 18.04. Probably a rookie mistake I am making, but scoured the forums and tutorials.

The gnome-disk-utility tutorials are simple enough and appear to be working in the os they are backing up - just select the partition or whole disk image and choose a destination.

I have a 3 partitions:

  1. fat... /dev/sda1
  2. ext4... /dev/sda2 the linux image I am actually trying to backup
  3. swap partition... /dev/sda3

If I attempt to image the whole disk, after I authenticate I get this error: Error unmounting /dev/sda2:target is busy (udisks-error-quark, 14)

Another error I see is just trying to create a backup of the /dev/sda1 partition alone: Error opening file "/media/freebird/FBbackup/Disk Image of sda1 (2019-11-24 1620).img": Permission denied (g-io-error-quark, 14)

The closest I have been to getting any of the 3 partitions to image is with the swap partition, but only after I disable swapping with sudo swapoff -a then it works just like in the tutorials and to any destination location. I obviously don't care about the swap partition, but I get errors if I try to use gnome-disk to do the whole drive or either of the other two partitions individually.

I also tried running from Live USB, but then I get permissions issues and similar errors. What am I missing?



  • I was able to get a backup image with Clonezilla (Thanks Fabby) and I feel better about having a backup at least now. My goal is to have everything I need on one external hard drive to troubleshoot and reinstall in case the internal hard drive corrupts while at sea (no connectivity whatsoever). It seems like the gnome-disks method would be quite a bit simpler if I could get it working. Is there anyone who might know why I wasn't able run a backup per my post above through gnome-disks?
    – Bscott
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 16:06
  • You cannot backup the active partition like that, but if you boot from another drive, for example a live Ubuntu drive (a USB pendrive), and run Disks, it will work. However, Clonezilla is much better, it is identifying used blocks and will only copy them, so skipping free blocks, which will save a lot of time and effort, particularly if you have a rather new system, with a lot of free drive space.
    – sudodus
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 16:19
  • It is funny how the tutorials didn't mention you couldn't backup an active partition. Probably just so common knowledge they didn't need to mention it. I also tried running it from a live USB and got a "permission denied" error. Clonezilla just seemed a little bit beyond me with all of the different options and I didn't want to screw something up. Maybe I just need to quit being a wimp and get good at using it if it is the best method!
    – Bscott
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 16:27
  • Thanks for the acceptance. Favour returned: question upvoted! ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


Applause for wanting to make a System Backup!

The easiest way to accomplish this is with a bootable USB stick and an external USB HDD using CloneZilla Live:

  1. Download and "Burn" the CloneZilla Live ISO (Instructions are provided over there)
  2. Boot the CloneZilla Live USB stick
  3. Use the Save Disk Image system
  4. Insert the external HDD when CloneZilla asks you to do so: CloneZilla Disk Insert Image
  5. Wait until done.

The best way to accomplish this is to copy the CloneZilla ISO to your existing system and just boot it from grub on your own system (one less USB Stick that you can lose) and follow the same steps as above. (CloneZilla Live is the very last example in that answer).


  • Thx Fabby! Will give that a shot. This computer will be for navigation on a big boat - hence the extra desire for backup. One less USB stick I am on board with - less little things around is good. I have an alternate internal hard drive so that if the existing one needed a burial at sea - easy swap and rebuild somewhat simply with everything I need to do it on the external hard drive. The external drive has Ubuntu startup, a data section, and space for the backup disk image partitions that work. Do you think it is just as possible to do the same with a Clonezilla iso?
    – Bscott
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 17:15

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