I already searched a bit around the answers here, but nothing satisfied me. I want a back-up solution that makes a total back-up, so that I can restore my Ubuntu system in case of major failures, like HDD failing.

As far as I can see, I have 2 choices:

  1. Backing up with Deja Dup to an external disk. This is fine and I am already doing it, but in case my HDD fails, and I make a new Ubuntu install on a new disk, will Deja Dup be able to restore all my settings and stuff from the backed up files? If it can, then what other files/folders should I add in Deja Dup to back-up? Currently I have set only the recommended /home folder. Is there a point in telling Deja Dup to back-up everything under "/" ?

  2. Disk/partition cloning software. This would be something similar to Norton ghost. Is there software like this with a nice GUI that you could recommend for Ubuntu? And even better, it would be nice if Ubuntu's liveCD could recognize such a clone at install step.

I am using 11.10.


6 Answers 6


I have just restored a system, myself. I am a newbie to Ubuntu, but I have learned a lot and I am a fan of multi-partitions.

Backing up /etc; well I don't know, but having a record of 'fstab' is essential and during the re-installation, remembering to only format the / partition is also important. As a result of having a mount point at /home/my-namefor my data partition, the most important thing that I discovered as a direct result of the re-install, was the need to immediately revert fstab. This required a reboot following the system installation, (just like "Windows"),as I was unable to invoke gedit from the command line straight away.

The benefit is avoiding the need to restore to /home/my-name. It is enough of a chore having to re-install all the previously installed programs.

To be doubly safe a monthly clone of the entire hard drive is good. 'dd' leaves you hanging in space without a clue as to what is going on. 'DDRESCUE' keeps you informed. I shall take a look at 'Clonezilla'. Backups with deja dup however, seem to restore data just fine.


I hope you have lots of free space, and that free space is highly available. In a Debian system, you really only need to back up what's in /home and perhaps /etc. Then you can get a list of all packages installed like so:

dpkg --get-selections > installed-software

and to restore:

dpkg --set-selections < installed-software && dselect

Deja-dup, or just using duplicity directly should suit your needs and save you a ton of space compared to saving binary copies of your HD. It'll be faster too.

6/19/2013 I've written detailed instructions on how to automate duplicity (crontab) and use passphrase protected gpg encryption.

  • 1
    So you are saying that it's enough to set Deja-Dup back-up /home and /etc ?
    – bioShark
    Nov 20, 2011 at 17:56
  • 1
    Correct, because /etc doesn't have a list of every package you've installed. Pretty sure that information lives in /var. You'll need /etc to restore any PPAs you've applied but you still need a record of what you installed from there. Best thing would be to create an additional cron job that runs the aforementioned command and deposits it in your $HOME, that way dejadup has you covered.
    – ppetraki
    Nov 20, 2011 at 21:57
  • 1
    Great. I'll create then a cron job with "dpkg --get-selections > installed-software" to get the list of installed software, and set up deja-dup with /home + /etc.
    – bioShark
    Nov 20, 2011 at 22:05

Professionally, we use Clonezilla to do full disk and partition clones. It can image the disk to an external USB, SFTP, or NFS shares. It compresses the image and in some cases is able to do partition resizing based upon disk size.


  • On my disk I have multiple partitions. sdb4 is my linux and sdb5 my swap. Can Clonezilla clone only those partitions form the disk?
    – bioShark
    Nov 19, 2011 at 21:57
  • What about using Deja Dup to back up / and then after a fresh install of ubuntu, make a restore?
    – bioShark
    Nov 19, 2011 at 22:18
  • I have made a / back-up in Deja Dup, home it helps. Thanks for the clonezilla tip though
    – bioShark
    Nov 19, 2011 at 22:49

you need remastersys, it backs up everything, all installed apps, the whole lot. back in time or deja dup are good, but to get YOUR system back the way you had it, remastersys is great for backing up your system

get it here http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/

be sure to read the guides and you cant go wrong

  • The development of remastersys has been discontinued.
    – Sina
    Apr 28, 2014 at 22:29

There is also a command line tool called dd

This will copy everything byte for byte, even the uuid (which you would have to change if you wanted to have them both bootable at the same time).

There are disk/partition cloning instructions here

In my experience, doing this every so often keeps a solid backup of your system, and when you want to revert I just format the newer partition and copy my backup back in.


Are you looking for a Disk/partition cloning software like Norton Ghost with a nice GUI? Use Redo!

Is open, very easy, partitioning and other tools included and you can surf the web while you clone, back up or restore your disk/partition

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