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Create Disk Image & Clone Hard Disk

Partition With Ubuntu Live USB

Earlier, we showed you how to create persistent Ubuntu Live media disk, and use it for
resetting and changing Windows 7 administrator and standard user account password.
Apart from tweaking with Windows registry hives, Ubuntu Live media disk can be used
to create data backup, shrink partitions, clone hard disk, scan system for viruses,
imaging disk partitions and more. Although disk imaging or hard disk cloning can be
done using data backup and disk copying applications, malware-infected OS often
make it hard to perform essential data backup operations. For instance, if a PC is
infected with boot sector virus, disk cloning application doesn’t work unless you clean
the system from virus and repair boot sector.

Ubuntu Live media disk lets you clone disks and create disk images, so that you can
easily restore the data after performing low-level cleaning of the system. In this post, we
will look at 2 simple ways for cloning and imaging disks using Ubuntu Live USB.

The first step is to change the system boot priority from BIOS menu. On system startup,
press F2, F10, ESC, DEL, or other system defined key for accessing BIOS menu. Now,
open Boot menu to set USB Hard disk/Removable Drive as first boost option. Once
done, save the changes, plug-in Ubuntu Live USB, and the reboot the system. Once
rebooted, it will take you to Ubuntu Live boot menu, select Run Ubuntu from this
USB option to load Ubuntu OS.

Create Image of local disk partition to external hard drive


Once Ubuntu 10.10 is loaded, plug-in the external hard disk on which you want to
create your primary hard disk image, and then mount the external hard disk from Places
menu.
We will use Ubuntu dd command to create disk image. The command is widely used to
perform low-level data copying and disk cloning operations. Using if (input file) and of
(output file) operands, we can use dd to create an exact copy of specified disk in IMG
format. To begin, click Applications and open Terminal from Accessories menu.

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Now navigate to media disk using cd /media command. Open the external hard disk
using the cd <disk label> command. You can use cd command to navigate to folder in
external hard disk where image is to be created.

Since we need to create disk image to external drive, we will use sudo fdisk –
l command to list down all the partitions of primary hard disk. This will help us identify
the partition whose image is to be created on external hard disk. Once listed, note down
the partition identifier under Device column, as it will be used to specify the hard disk
partition with dd command to create a disk image.
The syntax for creating disk image is as follows:

sudo dd if=<disk partition identifier> of=./<name of disk


image>
If you for instance want to create a disk image for /dev/sda5. Enter;

sudo dd if=/dev/sda5 of=./BackupDisk.img


The time it takes to create a disk image depends upon the size of specified disk
partition.
Once the image is created, open external hard drive location in Nautilus (Ubuntu File
Explorer) to verify the disk image size. Similarly, you can create disk images for other
partitions of primary hard disk in external storage medium.
The dd command also lets you restore or extract the IMG file to specified location. The
syntax of extracting IMG file is as follows.

sudo dd if=.<name of disk image file> of=<output location>


You can specify the local disk where data is to be extracted or specify the folder
hierarchy where you want to copy the data from IMG file.

sudo dd if=./BackupDisk.img of=/dev/sda3

It must be noted that when you restore data from IMG file using dd command, it will
wipe all the free space of target drive. The screenshot below shows the cloned D drive.
To reclaim the free space, copy the data from cloned drive to other disk and then format
the cloned drive using Windows built-in Format utility.
Clone Local Disk Using Ubuntu Live USB
The process of cloning disk is similar to creating disk image. All you need is to mount
the primary hard disk and navigate to it in Terminal using cd <disk identifier> command.

Once mounted, use sudo fdisk –l to list down hard disk partitions, so that you can note
down the Device identifiers of both disks including disk which is to be cloned and target
disk where data is to be copied.

For instance, if you want to create a clone of /dev/sda5 in /dev/sda3. Enter following
command
sudo dd if=/dev/sd5 of=/dev/sd3
It will take /dev/sd5 as input file (if operand) and clone disk at specified location
(/dev/sd3).