I have a triple boot between macOS Sierra, Windows 10, and Linux, on my 500gb ssd inside my laptop. How can I clone all of my partitions onto an external drive? It is 3tb and has an empty 600gb partition for this. Is there any way to clone my 8 or so partitions, so that: I can completely restore my laptop if I need to, and to not erase any data? I have this laptop.

  • Boot Camp or DIY? If it's Boot Camp [even partially], the only tool that can do all the partitions in any way that would be re-usable without building your partition map by hand again would be Paragon Hard Disk Manager – Tetsujin Feb 27 '17 at 11:40
  • Yes it is Boot Camp, and Greg Tarsa's method of using Clonzilla worked perfectly. – Thoughtyness Feb 28 '17 at 5:33
  • Have you tried reconstructing it, to test? – Tetsujin Feb 28 '17 at 5:36
  • Iv'e successfully restored Linux, including the SWAP partition. I didn't have to restore the whole disk, just those partitions. As for Windows or macOs, I have not yet tried, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. – Thoughtyness Mar 1 '17 at 1:16
  • It's the Boot Camp I'd be worried about. I'd grab a spare drive & test a full restore to bare metal. – Tetsujin Mar 1 '17 at 7:21

Check out Clonzilla. You can load it onto a USB drive, and clone your partitions individually, or backup the entire disk. It is pretty flexible.

I use it to clone entire disks of all my home machines to my file server. Since Clonezilla runs on a thumb drive, I can do bare metal restorations on any of my machines.

It is not a "simple" tool, but it is relatively straightforward.

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  • I noticed that when cloning it said it would clone sda1 sda2... sda6 sda8. The 7th partition is Linux Swap. If I need to completely restore my laptop, will it create the Linux Swap partition I had? Secondly, why did it only take up 182gb on the partition when I have 219gb of files on macOS? – Thoughtyness Feb 26 '17 at 7:08
  • Clonezilla, by default, compresses the disk images, so that they take up less room. This means you can clone/save a very large disk that is mostly unused into a relatively small backup footprint. As for the swap partition, I typically will choose the "whole disk" option if I am backing up for bare metal restoration later. Because usually when I need to to a bare metal restore, I am on fire and do not want to have to think carefully about partitioning the destination disk before restoring. In your case, you might be willing to build the swap partition manually when you ware doing your move. – Greg Tarsa Feb 26 '17 at 17:50

If you want to do it manually, it's pretty easy to do this using the dd command.

Use a single image file

This will back up your entire SSD as a single file. It won't be naively readable (although you should be able to mount or open it as a disk image using the right software) but it will be very easy to restore if you need to.

  1. If necessary, create and format that 600GB partition. You can use any file system that supports files of at least 500GB and is writable from Linux (in practice this means almost anything except FAT32 or older).
  2. Shut down the computer and use bootable Linux media (liveCD or similar) so you aren't booting off either hard disk.
  3. Make sure the disk you're copying is not mounted, and that the one you're copying to is mounted R/W.
  4. Use dd (you may need to su/sudo if you aren't already root) to copy the whole SSD to a file on your 3TB disk. The command will be something like dd if=/dev/sda of=/path/to/backup/location/ssd.img bs=4M (the "bs" parameter is just to make it go faster).
  5. Shut down the live OS and boot from your disk again. You now have a backup you can restore to that disk (or any other at least as large) whenever you need to.

Note that this isn't as fast as some of the other approaches, nor does it take into consideration used vs. unused space - the image file will be fully the size of the SSD - but it's simple and dd has been a part of every Linux distro for decades.

Back up the partitions individually

Similar to the above, but back up the partitions (/dev/sda1, /dev/sda2, etc.) rather than the whole disk. You can either back them up to their own files, or directly to identically-sized (or larger) empty partitions on the backup drive. This approach means you'll need to re-create the partition structure on any new drive you want to recover your SSD onto, but lets you work with the partitions individually and mount them easily from the 3TB disk (if you copied to raw partitions, rather than to files in a backup location).

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At work we use Partition Wizard for these tasks; it is extremely simple to use and effective. We have it on a bootable USB pen drive and it often comes in handy. If it's for personal use, the free edition should be enough for your needs

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  • That's Windows only software. Appears to only be able to handle FAT & NTFS, no HFS, no hybrids. – Tetsujin Mar 1 '17 at 7:26
  • Your statement is completely wrong: it can be installed on a bootable USB pen drive (Linux based) and can handle drives with a mix of FAT, NTFS, EXT2, EXT3 and EXT4 (from my personal experience). I don't know about HFS as I have personally never encountered it. – simlev Mar 1 '17 at 9:33
  • Still makes it totally useless to a Mac. – Tetsujin Mar 1 '17 at 9:34

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