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Thread: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

  1. #1
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    Mar 2009
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    Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    Hey everyone,

    I'm looking for a tool for Linux (I use ubuntu on a usb stick) that can perform byte level synchronization of a hard drive.

    What I wish to do is backup the entire (internal) hard drive onto an external hard drive, to ensure I can access all the files I'm using ubuntu booted from a usb stick.
    (The internal hard drive has windows 7 installed)

    Preferably this tool should have an easy to use GUI because I'm not great with the terminal, and my backups will be done late at night when I just want to get to bed - not mess around with a terminal.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

    Thanks, Jordan


    Note: I don't have the external hard drive yet, I'm researching tools first.

  2. #2
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    Code:
    sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb
    This does a byte-level copy from /dev/sda to /dev/sdb. It will take a long time to execute, and you won't need to interact with it. The target disk must be as large as or larger than the original. It's also imperative that you get the if= and of= options right; reversing them will wipe out your original disk! (Similar comments would apply to any tool to do what you're asking.)

  3. #3
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    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    jordanmoore,

    Fellow Ubuntu-On-A-Stick user!

    The next step up from the (perfectly functionality) dd command is ddrescue command. It has two extra features: (1) works around bad sectors on the 'source' hard drive & (2) it has an option to be able to pick up where it left off.

    But both will work.

    You can create a script on your Ubuntu-On-A-Stick (the worlds only True Pocket PC!) to make running it as easy as possible.

    The Hedge



    p.s. Did you know hedgehogs have no pockets?!?
    Look at all those flashing lights! I'll take one!

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  4. #4
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    Mar 2009
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    Thank you very much for these answers, I'll try out both of the commands on USB sticks to see how they work

    Three Quick questions however:
    • After the first initial backup (which will take a long time), will following backups be fast?
    • If I delete a file on the internal HDD, will it delete on the external HDD?
    • My internal HDD is fully encrypted using "TrueCrypt", will this command still work?


    Many Thanks

  5. #5
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    Hi

    Three Quick questions however:
    After the first initial backup (which will take a long time), will following backups be fast?
    With dd; no. It will copy the entire hard drive byte by byte each time. Unsure about ddrescue but i imagine it will work the same way.

    If I delete a file on the internal HDD, will it delete on the external HDD?
    Yes but for the above reason. It will copy the whole hard drive.

    My internal HDD is fully encrypted using "TrueCrypt", will this command still work?
    Yes. They will both still work.

    I don't see why you don't use Clonezilla to backup

    Kind regards
    If you believe everything you read, you better not read. ~ Japanese Proverb

    If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed. - Mark Twain

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  6. #6
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    Thanks for answering my questions so swiftly, I appreciate it.

    It would appear that the "dd" command is not what I'm looking for then, I was hoping to find something that - after the initial backup - only had to backup the changes.

    I'll definitely be taking a look at "clonezilla", thanks for that suggestion.

  7. #7
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    Your two criteria -- byte-level synchronization and incremental backups -- are at odds with one another. I don't know of any program that does both, and from a theoretical level, it's impossible to do a byte-level synchronization without at least reading the entire source drive -- there's no way to know if a source byte has changed without reading it.

    Note that byte-level synchronization means synchronizing everything at a low level, even space that's not currently in use on the hard disk. There are certainly cases where this is necessary, but I suspect yours might not be one of them. Why do you want to do a byte-level backup?

    Personally, I generally use the Linux tar utility for backups. It's not a low-level backup tool, but it does support incremental backups. It's also a text-mode utility, so you might not like it; but there are GUI front-ends to it, such as TAR GUI. For disk-to-disk backups, you might look into rsync or a GUI front-end to it, such as Grsync.

  8. #8
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    Hi

    srs5694 has raised some good points in the post above. Your backup strategy should depend on what you are trying to achieve.

    Clonezilla is excellent for backup up partitions and whole drive. This is excellent for disaster recovery if the entire drive fails.

    http://clonezilla.org/

    Tar is a command line tool for backing up files that can be very easily scripted. It will back up files and folders to local hard drives but will not back up the mbr and other such areas of the hard drive so cannot be used to restore the entire drive. You can remotely backup using rsync.

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=35087
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/rsync

    You need to decide your backup strategy.

    BTW: I use both Clonezilla and Tar.

    Kind regards
    If you believe everything you read, you better not read. ~ Japanese Proverb

    If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed. - Mark Twain

    Thinking about becoming an Ubuntu Member?

  9. #9
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    I was thinking about byte level synchronization because I was under the impression that this was the fastest method - but my knowledge doesn't lie in this area so it appears I was wrong - thanks for pointing this out.

    From what I've read it appears that "clonezilla" is the utility which is going to do what I wish.

    The following is the purpose of my backup:
    My laptop contains a lot of data which is precious to me, including projects that I work on, software I write, plus my college work. It also has over 30GB of software installed which is inconvenient to re-download on a 300kbps connection.
    Within the upcoming months I'm going to begin riding a motorbike to commute to college, and god forbid if I crash I don't want to loose my data.
    Essentially I want my backup to make a mirror image of my hard drive; this is so that if I smash the laptop to pieces, I can simply purchase the same laptop again and mirror the backup to the internal hard drive - leaving me with essentially the exact laptop I broke.
    I was under the impression that doing a byte level synchronization from a USB Ubuntu stick was the best way to do this - but I'm really just looking for the fastest method to backup my internal hard drive to an external one.

    Sorry for any confusion, and once again, thanks for all the help!

  10. #10
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    Re: Byte level hard drive synchronization?

    You won't find an incremental, byte-level backup.
    The simplest way is to use sbackup, but check out https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BackupYourSystem

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