View Full Version : [ubuntu] backup to an external expansion drive

March 2nd, 2011, 08:23 AM

I am trying to backup my system to an external 500 GB expansion drive, and I have several problems and questions:

1. I try to "Create startup disk" on my expansion drive, but the operation just fails with no explanation.

2. I try to format my expansion drive, but the program asks me what file system I want - FAT, ext2, or ext4, and I have no idea what to choose?

I currently have ext3 on my hard-drive (I got this information by opening the "format" dialog and clicking the "drive service program" button).

3. What is the best way to do incremental backup from my hard-drive to my expansion drive?

Thank you!

March 2nd, 2011, 09:20 AM
Hello erelsgl!

You'll find a quite good backup documentation here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BackupYourSystem.

It also presents some backup utilities to automate the process. The file system type to format the drive to might depend on the backup utility you choose. In general, FAT16 is the old Microsoft format, FAT32 the medium-aged file system type (most USB sticks are formatted this way) and NTFS is the newest Microsoft type. extX is used by Linux distributions. I'm no expert on file systems, so I can't tell you more about that; Wikipedia might help here (or other users). Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_system#Types_of_file_systems.

If you've found a backup utility that suits your needs and you run into problems getting it to work, feel free to ask.

Best regards,


EDIT: PS: When reading the table with the backup utilities on the UbuntuHelp page, don't underestimate the "interface" column: GUI means you'll have a graphical user interface (windows, mouse and clicking) while CLI means you'll have to use the terminal.

March 2nd, 2011, 03:39 PM
NTFS cannot store many *nix attributes, so as long as your external hdd is formatted in something else (i.e. ext3, ext4), you can use commands like rsync & programs that use rsync (like sbackup).

You can manually backup the drive with an rsync command, read the manual for more info

man rsync

the command could be as simple as

rsync -ruv --delete /source /destination

For a GUI approach that does incremental backups, you can use sbackup

sudo apt-get install sbackup

To clone your entire drive (for easy restoring), I suggest Clonezilla (http://www.clonezilla.org). It is very easy to use, and can clone drives, partitions, etc.

March 2nd, 2011, 04:25 PM

I personally use DD, referring to the guide below. Only downside is you have to reinstall GRUB2 if/when you need to restore, but that takes about 10 minutes in total using a LiveCD, following a guide available on the internet.


March 3rd, 2011, 09:15 AM
Thank you all for the pointers! I understand it is better to use a Linux file system, such as ext*, if I want to use LInux backup tools.

Do you have any idea, why I have only ext2 and ext4 to choose from, although my current file system is ext3?

March 3rd, 2011, 02:17 PM
You should be any to format to any type with GParted which is installed by default (System -> Administration -> GParted)

Note: If you are going to format an NTFS drive for any reason, you should also get the following before you proceed

sudo apt-get install ntfsprogs

March 5th, 2011, 07:14 PM
Thanks! I formatted the partition with ext3, then used unetbootin to create a boot disk (the default "make startup disk" didn't work), and it worked!