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I would like to image my current laptop's hard drive and keep that image as a baseline the next time my laptop/HD crashes (to restore from. What is the best software to do this, Ghost, etc?

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closed as not constructive by soandos, studiohack Jan 4 '12 at 0:38

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What do you mean by best? –  soandos Jan 4 '12 at 0:22
Best leaves the question open to interpretation. Are there particular features that you're looking for? If you're looking for something that will also do automatic incremental backups on your Windows Machine, then you should look into Microsoft's Windows Home Server 2003 or 2011 which both do a fairly good job. I've had to restore a couple of times and had successes in every case. –  kobaltz Jan 4 '12 at 0:29
Best is generalized as in, "no, I don't know features and want to know what the experience of the community has been". :) I'm looking for a single back up of my laptop at home/work that I travel a lot with and I have had it crash recently but I'm more interested in keeping a baseline image around (with all apps installed and stuff configured) to get me baselined quickly. But what I really want is this to happen nightly....take an image snapshot of my disk. That would be optimal. –  JaJ Jan 4 '12 at 15:20
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted


Taken from CloneZilla's website


You're probably familiar with the popular proprietary commercial package Norton Ghost®. The problem with these kind of software packages is that it takes a lot of time to massively clone systems to many computers. You've probably also heard of Symantec's solution to this problem, Symantec Ghost Corporate Edition® with multicasting. Well, now there is an OpenSource clone system (OCS) solution called Clonezilla with unicasting and multicasting! Clonezilla, based on DRBL, Partclone and udpcast, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla SE (server edition). Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore. While Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency. At the NCHC's Classroom C, Clonezilla SE was used to clone 41 computers simultaneously. It took only about 10 minutes to clone a 5.6 GBytes system image to all 41 computers via multicasting!


  • Free (GPL) Software.
  • Filesystem supported: (1) ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs of GNU/Linux, (2) FAT, NTFS of MS Windows, (3) HFS+ of Mac OS, (4) UFS of FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, and (5) VMFS3/4 of VMWare ESX. Therefore you can clone GNU/Linux, MS windows, Intel-based Mac OS, and FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, no matter it's 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x86-64) OS. For these file systems, only used blocks in partition are saved and restored. For unsupported file system, sector-to-sector copy is done by dd in Clonezilla.
  • LVM2 (LVM version 1 is not) under GNU/Linux is supported.
  • Grub (version 1 and version 2) is supported.
  • Unattended mode is supported. Almost all steps can be done via commands and options. You can also use a lot of boot parameters to customize your own imaging and cloning.
  • Multicast is supported in Clonezilla SE, which is suitable for massively clone. You can also remotely use it to save or restore a bunch of computers if PXE and Wake-on-LAN are supported in your clients.
  • The image file can be on local disk, ssh server, samba server, or NFS server.
  • Based on Partclone (default), Partimage (optional), ntfsclone (optional), or dd to image or clone a partition. However, Clonezilla, containing some other programs, can save and restore not only partitions, but also a whole disk.
  • By using another free software drbl-winroll, which is also developed by us, the hostname, group, and SID of cloned MS windows machine can be automatically changed.


  • The destination partition must be equal or larger than the source one.
  • Differential/incremental backup is not implemented yet.
  • Online imaging/cloning is not implemented yet. The partition to be imaged or cloned has to be unmounted.
  • Software RAID/fake RAID/firmware RAID is not supported by default. It's can be done manually only.
  • Due to the image format limitation, the image can not be explored or mounted. You can NOT recovery single file from the image. However, you still have workaround to make it, read this.
  • Recovery Clonezilla live with multiple CDs or DVDs is not implemented yet. Now all the files have to be in one CD or DVD if you choose to create the recovery iso file.
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I've had lots of success with CloneZilla –  Nick Josevski Jan 4 '12 at 0:35
ghost used to be the best cloner , disk duper, and partition shifter in the world. then it got "improved" and My purchace of it wasnt worth the cardboard around the box. I so wish they would do the old school ghost for the new school system. –  Psycogeek Jan 4 '12 at 7:56
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Acronis True Image works great, with a great user interface.

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