I have to ship my laptop in for repairs, and they warn that my HD might come back empty. What's the easiest way for me to back up my entire HD (which is encrypted, I might add) to a USB stick or some other external drive, and then how do I later restore everything?

I don't necessarily need a bootable exact clone. I just don't want to reinstall all the packages and modify system-level config files again.

Other answers on this site may not apply, since we're talking about a fully encrypted HD.

  • Your question is too broad as there are several methods of backup. See askubuntu.com/questions/9135/… , I have my method there but there are other options as well.
    – Panther
    Oct 6, 2017 at 15:29
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    Possible duplicate of How to backup settings and list of installed packages
    – Panther
    Oct 6, 2017 at 15:32
  • The fact that my whole HD is encrypted probably makes things a bit more complicated, I imagine.
    – ffxsam
    Oct 6, 2017 at 15:33
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    The easiest "one and done" is to simply back up your data and /home and a list of installed packages. Well that is 2 and done=)
    – Panther
    Oct 6, 2017 at 15:35
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    clonezilla or dd will do, but the backup is huge
    – Panther
    Oct 6, 2017 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


It might be easiest to create a compressed image with Clonezilla, an image of the whole drive (not of partitions). A Clonezilla image is a directory with a number of files, and you can restore from the image to a cloned system in a drive of at least the same size as the original drive.

See also this link: Fastest way to copy HDD, which describes cloning.

The simplest kind of backup is to backup only your personal files (documents, pictures, music, video clips ...). To do it the 'simple way' and include tweaks and installed programs is no longer simple ;-)

A good alternative, that might be efficient in terms of 'time and sweat' for you, is to backup only your personal files, do a fresh installation, and install the program packages, that you need, when you need them. This way you will also get rid of packages, that you no longer use.

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