I've set up a new Linux workstation and would like to create a backup image in order to save time in case something breaks. This is the situation:
- Workstation: 512 GB SSD, 12 GB used, ext4 file system, may contain bad blocks
- Backup drive: 64 GB USB flash drive
The backup image should be bootable for added flexibility and, importantly, all programs, configurations, network settings (proxies, VPNs) etc. have to be preserved.
As I understand, a sparse, file-based image is necessary, since the backup drive (and possibly also the replacement drive) is smaller than the source drive.
What backup/cloning tool understands file systems and creates sparse, bootable images?
dd just copies bit by bit and
ddrescue can only sparsify blocks of zeros into metadata, but not unused space filled with random data. Some disk cleanup tools offer to fill unused space with zeros, but this usually takes many hours and I'm not sure if this is good practice for collapsing data (especially on an SSD).
I need a reliable, free, and easy solution as I don't have much expertise on file systems, partition structures, boot sectors etc.