Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I dual boot windows and ubuntu on a particular machine and I'm looking for a comprehensive backup solution. Basically I'm after a single tool to clone the entire drive and do incremental backups with little to no concern for the underlying os.

My first instinct is to set up rsync to do the back up from ubuntu and just mount the windows partition when it does its thing so it backs that up too. Does that sound reasonable or am I missing something? At face value this seems like a reasonable answer, but I can't help but feel like something is "off" with that approach.

share|improve this question

migrated from Aug 30 '10 at 0:06

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Voting to close this as it belongs to superuser - when it gets closed - it will migrate across automatically... this is a programming forum, not a disk recovery/specialist/administration forum.... – t0mm13b Aug 29 '10 at 23:38

As long as you aren't expecting an easy bare metal restore, rsync should work just fine. If you want a true clone, you could just dd the entire device, but it won't be very incremental.

share|improve this answer
+1 for disk imaging - that's the only way you're going to fully back up a dual-booting system in one go. Incremental backups aren't going to work in CJ's scenario as incremental backups rely on being able to read file meta-data, which again relies on understanding the filesystem. I would avoid rsync, as windows isn't just the sum total of its files... if your HD crashes and you're trying to restore the OS, that's not gonna work. – Mala Aug 30 '10 at 1:31

I don't think a disk image can be incremented (at least easily) and I don't think it's needed to do an image very frequently so my recomendation would be to have 2 strategies:

  1. Image backup: save an image of the full disk with dd and only redo it when changing something big.
  2. Backup data (and the programs or configs you want with a full backup once (or once a week/month) and do incremental backups the other days. Do this from Ubuntu (using Simple Backup Suite for example) as it can use the windows partition so you can backup everything in one operation.
share|improve this answer

rsynch or dd should probably work.

So should amanda (Linux, higher level) or Ghost (Windows, lower level).

But there are lots of questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Just back up data, or system + data?

  • How easy should it be to back up? To restore?

  • Am I willing to waste space on potentially useless data (like the swap file, restore points, MS updates, etc etc)? If not, am I willing to lose things like restore points or registry setting permanently if I ever recover from backup?

  • Am I willing to pay for a commercial product? How much?

    Etc etc

The best suggestion I can give us is - whatever you decide - TEST your backup strategy if at all possible. By doing a restore.

Just like the axiom "Software that hasn't been tested doesn't run"; it's equally true that "A backup that hasn't been tested, doesn't work."


share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.