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It says my hard drive is about to fail and that it's reached temperatures of 93F, so i want to have everything backed up and ready for if or when it fails. i know of ways that i can save a back up copy to the hard drive, but i'm not sure about a USB or how i would go about reuploading it to a new hard drive.

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    Whatever you do, turn off your computer for about an hour to allow it to cool down before you do it. Copying everything will likely heat up your drive to the highest it has every been and could lead to failures. As such a program that lets you resume copying from where you left off (like rsync) is the best choice. Another option is this script which uses rsync. Mar 14 at 23:40
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    I also very strongly recommend that you back up only your home directory first. If the drive fails, losing the OS is no big deal compared to losing your files. Mar 15 at 5:01
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    93F doesn't seem like a particularly high temperature inside a computer - kinda warm but not really concerning?
    – user253751
    Mar 15 at 10:05
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    @PeterCordes 93F is 33.9C. 51 degrees C would be concerning for a hard drive (IMO).
    – user253751
    Mar 15 at 12:27
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    Just for the record, you can get more detail on your HDD status (including temp limits) with sudo smartctl -x /dev/sda or whatever path). A drive like a WD Red (NAS-rated) has an upper operating temp rating of 65 C, vs. 60 C for an old WD Green (WD10EADS), or only 55 C for a Seagate Barracuda Compute (ST6000DM003-2CY186). IDK if there are any drives that only rate themselves for operation up to 50C, but even that's still way higher than 34C. So if your drive is dying, a max temp of 34C is not the reason. If SMART says your drive is about to fail, back up now, but don't worry about temp. Mar 15 at 12:34
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In my opinion the easiest tool to achieve this task is Clonezilla

For that purpose you'd need:

  • One smaller USB stick or a CD or some other storage device to boot Clonezilla from - the website has pretty good instructions and there are numerous instructions on the web how to do it;
  • One large USB stick, external HDD, NAS or a similar storage space to store the image of your hard drive on.

You then boot Clonezilla, choose "Device to Image" option and run the backup.

You can then replace your hard drive with a larger one and reverse the process: boot Clonezilla, select "Image to Device" and restore backup.

The PC should start normally and you would not see any differences. You can then use GPartEd to enlarge the partitions to use the extra space.

The process is pretty straightforward.

Note: cloning to a smaller drive is not supported and, although possible, is rather hacking and I'd highly discourage it. Especially if the drive is actually failing.

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Do not bother spending the time to back up an operating system. Operating systems can be downloaded for free anytime, and are reinstalled in less than an hour.

What you need to bother about, is your personal files. These are unique and irreplaceable. Once lost, these are lost forever. Therefore, you should, anytime, have good backup copies of your data (on external USB, in the cloud, ...). Once that is in place, a heating hard disk is a relatively minor problem.

A backup can be as simple as copying your personal files to a backup medium. To restore them, you copy them back. That, however, may take a long time, preventing you to backup regularly. Therefore, invest in an incremental backup system. There, only changed files are updated in the backup.

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    I'd hate to lose my crontab though. These are in /var/spool/cron and so would not be backed up in your procedure. Same goes for network settings in /etc, a couple of useful scripts in /usr/local/bin...can think of a few more.
    – Jos
    Mar 15 at 14:38
  • @Jos I think that is one of the advantages of the nixos operating system. You can achieve similar in ubuntu by using scripting the setup and configuration of your crontabs. Just write a script "setup-crontabs.sh" and another script "wipe-crontabs.sh". You can store the scripts in ~/bin (backed up as a personal file) or keep it in its own repo.
    – emory
    Mar 15 at 18:20
  • @Jos yeah, I'd want /var, /usr, /etc, /home, and for a server, /srv. There's plenty of noise in with the signal, but it's way better than realizing after it's too late that you needed something not in your backup. Mar 15 at 18:20
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    @JaredSmith, you don't need all of /usr. If you've been installing things correctly, all you need is /usr/local.
    – Mark
    Mar 15 at 20:37
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    @JaredSmith, /usr/share should be entirely files installed by the package manager.
    – Mark
    Mar 15 at 21:27

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