Full System Backup

I'm interested in using timeshift, but if the system becomes unbootable, how do you recover?

I'm dual booting with refind. I no longer see grub. Is there another way?

For that I recommend Clonezilla. See my earlier posts that explain the process.

That being said, I'm wondering the same thing as you in regards to Timeshift.

I haven't considered what will happen with rEFind when I restore with these software packages. Do you think it wiil break my dual boot? You think I'll be fine with Clonezilla?

Clonezilla makes an exact clone of your disk and stores it in an "image" file, which you can later restore to your disk.

I have done this many times and it backed up and restored my disk and Manjaro installation exactly 1 on 1.

The only thing that needs to be done after a restore is to reinstall and update Grub, however since you don't use Grub, I'm not sure how that would work with rEFind.

If you're lucky, no additional steps like reinstalling rEFind will be needed. However I'm unsure to give you an answer on that. Perhaps there is a way for you to safely try it, without affecting your system. Like restoring to a secondary disk for example, just to see if it works, without affecting your actual Manjaro installation.

Timeshift can also create a clone of the system. I created a clone on a flash drive and that can be booted and run if your main install becomes unbootable. The flash drive has Timeshift on it and can be cloned back onto your hard drive, or a backup can be restored from another partition. A Manjaro install CD/USB could be used similarly (just boot, install Timeshift, then restore your backup from wherever to wherever).

The Timeshift "clone" feature is nice in that it doesn't require (or create) an identical sized partition (like dd), just creates a working copy of the system files.

The other nice thing about Timeshift is that the backups and clones are browsable (not compressed or img files) so you could look at and manually copy any files from a backup.

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What if your disk consists of multiple partitions, like a boot partition, swap etc. Does Timeshift clone those as well, including the master boot record?

No. It's not for cloning a whole hard disk, but backing up or cloning a single system.

So if you have Grub on a separate boot partition and you clone your system using Timeshift and then restore it to a new disk, then the boot partition with Grub will not be restored, am I right? Effectively making the restored system on the new disk unbootable - or am I missing something?

I think I'll try both Timeshift and Clonezilla. rEFind in theory, should be fine because it's in ESP. All boot handling happens there. I'll report findings tomorrow.

I just remembered that the way Timeshift does backups (using rsync with links) requires a linux formatted partition (ext2,3,4). It will only show linux formatted partitions as options for saving your backups.

The advantage of this form of backup is they are much quicker, only requiring the backup of files changed or added since the last backup. And it allows easy browsing of the individual backed up files in the system.

Is it normal for clonezilla to take over three hours? Would it not be easier and faster to reinstall? Is there a way to only backup the used space instead of the entire 500GB drive?

If Clonezilla takes a long time, then you might have the option turned on to check if the image is restorable.

This option doubles the time Clonezilla takes to make a backup.

I only turn on that option the first time I make a backup on a system to see if Clonezilla can make restorable images of that system.

If yes, then there's no need to turn that option on after that. And it halves the time that Clonezilla uses to make a backup.

Also note that if you use an external hard disk connected via usb 2.0, then that is a bottleneck for how fast Clonezilla can write the image to your external disk.

The faster your hardware, the faster the backup.

When I need to backup my root image I use the fsarchiver tool from livecd distros like parted magic, gparted, systemrescue or clonezilla. It's also avalaible on our repos, but to make the root image it needs to be run from cdlive.

It's a command line tool that easily make a compressed backup file of the desired partitions to the external devise you choose.
An example: Root size 15GB, used disk space 5GB. The resulting backup file is around 1.5/2.0 GB. The needed time is around 20/30 minutes, but it obviously depends on hardware power.

I'm very satisfied with that, never had any issue and using since 7 or 8 years.

More info https://www.fsarchiver.org/Main_Page

be careful with clonezilla
you have a clone of any partition with UUID inside
you must unmount ou disconnect disks clones after

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Post output of command - with external HDD plugged in:

fdisk -l
cat /etc/mtab

In my experience yes. Clonezilla copies the entire partition/disk. Then deletes the "empty space", and then checks if the backup is a working backup.

Personally I use BackInTime for taking regular snapshots of my /home and /etc folder, where almost all personal settings and files reside. It works fine with an external USB drive formatted with ext4.
Timeshift might be similarly good, it also uses rsync in the background.

Edit: As I just noticed, TimeShift does NOT backup your personal data, but only the system files. So it is very different from BackInTime. And maybe they might be a good combination. End edit.

In case of a system crash I would install a new system, install BackInTime, setup the repository on the external drive, and then restore the contents of my old /home and /etc folder (btw it is also good practise to keep the /home folder in a separate partition, that way you can reinstall the system without having to delete/restore your /home folder contents).

Clonezilla Backups I only use for freshly installed systems. That way I could save some time for not having to reinstall the system from scratch. But for a regulary basis, to keep recent backups of your files and documents, it is too slow and overkill in my opinion.

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Well, myself, since my system is dual boot I use Macrium Reflect to image both the Win dows 7 partitions (system ones only) and my Manjaro partitions. Works flawlessly too. Save my behind several times when I was first learning and using Manjaro.

Heart-Of-A-Lion, this are kind of the posts that enable Linux beginners to be able to start using Linux (and Manjaro in this case). My biggest worry is (and I'm assuming this is the same with most if not every beginner): "what if something goes wrong, what I'm gonna do"?

Your posts, your help remove this fear and provide solution. Beginner can now help her/himself.

Thank you for all you are doing. My cheat sheet notes are getting bigger and bigger thanks to you. I will try these steps out just to become comfortable with the whole process.

I hope your guides get stickied as soon as possible.

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