Backup And Restore

Using Clone Zilla to create and restore disk images.

Backing up and restoring your computer without sighted help has always been a chore for visually impaired people. Fortunately, there are excellent and totally free tools out there to easily back up your entire system and restore it, all without sighted assistance!

The following guide is based on talking arch. At the time of writing the latest release is from May 2014. No warranty express or implied is offered with this guide, so please proceed at your own risk after heeding all warnings. This guide assumes that windows is your primary operating system.

You will need to configure your bios to start from CD. Please refer to your computer's manufacturer instructions on how to do this, or Google search your computer's model number followed by bios.

You will also need a medium on which to save the image. A USB hard drive, pen drive, or similar with enough capacity for example 64GB for an average windows install.

Run disk clean-up and delete all but the most recent restore point as well as all temporary windows files as this will ensure we have as much space as possible. Normally you would be running this on a fresh install of windows so it shouldn't be bogged down too much with files.

Getting Started.

First, you will need to download and save the image of the CD we are going to be using. Please do not click run.

Please click here to start the download

You will need to burn this iso image to CD. A standard CDR disk will be fine. Windows has a built in iso burner, but if using windows XP or earlier you will need to source a utility to burn isos such as CD burner XP pro or infra recorder. do not simply copy the iso file to a CD that will not work. You will need to find the option in the software that says burn iso image or similar. In windows7 when you press enter, the iso burner will automatically be displayed. Place your CD in the drive, and click burn to begin the burning process.

When the burn process is complete,   Insert the disc in the CD drive and shut down the computer.

Start the computer and press your up arrow key as soon as you've pressed the on button. As soon as you hear a beep, stop pressing the up arrow. Press down arrow once and press enter. This will boot in to the clone zilla backup and restore environment. If you had just pressed enter without pressing down arrow, it would have booted using the 64bit version of the backup and restore environment, which should work on most modern systems but for maximum compatibility, we are using the 32bit environment for this guide.

When the boot is complete, you will hear a welcome message to say that your sound is working, then you will hear speak up say root at arch iso. You are now at a command prompt and you are about to impress all your friends by looking like a proper Linux geek!

Practising with the speak up screen reader.

The backup environment uses a screen reader called Speak Up. Before we start, we need to familiarise ourselves with some speak up commands so we can review output that's being displayed on the screen if we need to.

The caps lock key is set as a modifier key. This means we'll be pressing and holding the caps lock key in conjunction with other keys to execute commands. Following is a list of the commands we will be using for this guide.

  • Decrease volume: caps and number 1.
  • Increase volume: caps and number 2.
  • Decrease pitch: caps and number 3.
  • Increase pitch: caps and number 4.
  • Decrease speed of speech: caps and number 5.
  • Increase speed of speech: caps and number 6.
  • Read previous line: caps and the letter U.
  • Read the current line: caps and the letter I.
  • Read next line: caps and the letter O.

So, let's practise those commands by seeing which hard drives are installed in the system. Type the following command without the quotes, then after pressing enter, listen to the output or a much quicker way would be to review the screen with caps U and O.

"sudo fdisk -l"

Go through the output by reviewing the text with the speak up commands. The lines you are most interested in at this point are the lines starting disk /dev. let's look at what this means. In Linux, each disk is represented by numbers and letters. If you have 2 hard drives in your computer, the first one would be listed as /dev/sda. /dev stands for device, /sda is the drive itself. The second hard drive would be listed as /dev/sdb. Notice the letter increment? The third would be listed as /dev/sdc. Read through the command on the screen. The first section will tell you which hard drive you're looking at, so /dev/sda. It will then go on to tell you how large the drive is, how many partitions the drive has, etc. the partitions are represented by numbers. /dev/sda1 would be the first partition on the first hard drive. /dev/sda2 would be the second partition. /dev/sdb1 would be the first partition on your second drive. This will be the same for each drive that you have connected. So let's say your windows drive is /dev/sda and its 250GB in size, and your pen drive is /dev/sdb and it's 64GB in size. You'll need to remember this because we'll be using it later. It doesn't matter if you haven't connected your backup pen drive or external hard drive at this point, Clone Zilla will prompt us to connect a drive later if we've not already done so. Now the boring part's over, lets backup our drive. Type clear to clear any screen output so we're not reading through things we don't need to see.

Creating a disk or partition image.

At this stage, you should be at the Arch Iso prompt after typing clear. To launch Clone Zilla, type the following without the quotes, including spaces.

"sudo clonezilla"

This should start clone zilla. Commands with sudo at the start tell Linux to run programs as an administrator with no restrictions and ensure we don't receive any errors.

Clone zilla will first prompt us to select a mode that we want to work in. arrow up and down to hear the choices. The top most option is already highlighted, device image work with disks or partitions using images. Press enter to continue.

After pressing enter, you may receive a cryptic message about a file or directory not found. This message is to be expected as we are running clone zilla from the CD and will not affect our backup or restore.

The next screen will prompt us to choose a place to save the image to. There are various options, arrow through them to explore them. I won't describe them all here, but the option you want for this guide is local dev as it's a local device that we are saving to. Select that and press enter.

You will be prompted to insert your USB drive at this point if you've not already done so. clonezilla will access the drive and display some output to show its detected it. Press enter to continue.

Next, Clone Zilla will want us to confirm where it is going to save the image too. Remember the drive examples earlier? Arrow through them and choose the partition on the drive that resembles your pen drive. Press enter when you've found the drive you want. Clone Zilla will then proceed to test it can save to the drive.

Next, we're asked if we want to save in a specific folder, or if we just want to save in the top directory. I did not have any folders on my pen drive, so pressed enter to select the top directory option. If you have a folder specifically for images, arrow up and down and press enter on the folder you want to save to. Please note however, that only the first levels of folders are shown. You cannot save within sub folders for example in a folder called backups in a subfolder called images.

Next, Clone Zilla confirms that it has enough space to save images to, so we can just press enter to continue.

Next, we are asked if we want to use the beginner mode or the expert mode. For this guide, I'd recommend using the beginner mode because most users will never need to use the expert options. If you do choose the expert option, it's worth noting that Clone Zilla asks you to check multiple items by pressing space. The way to tell when an item is checked is to press space on it until speak up does not say anything. In other words, press space once and if speak up says space; you've unticked your chosen option. If it doesn't say space, you've checked it. Use the expert option at your own risk. To continue, press enter on the beginner option.

Next, we're asked what we want to back up. An entire disk or a specific partition. For this guide, it's strongly recommended that you choose to backup an entire disk, especially where windows is concerned. This yields the most reliable restore results if you're storing your failed system as it doesn't skip any part of the disk being backed up. Select the save disk option and press enter.

You'll then be prompted for a name for your image. Clone Zilla will create a folder based on the name you type and store all the image files there. It may also be worth using a folder name that does not contain spaces. For example, IBM_backup. Note the underscore instead of space. Enter your name and press enter. You could also use dashes. It is recommended not to use spaces in your file name.

We are now prompted which disk we want to back up. Arrow to the drive you want to back up, and select the drive by pressing space. As mentioned earlier, you can press space multiple times to confirm the drive being selected. If Speak Up says space, it's unselected. If it does not say anything when you press space, the drive is selected. Press enter to continue. Note: if you only have 1 drive available to back up in the list, clone zilla has already selected it. In this case, try pressing enter to continue.

Next, Clone Zilla will offer to do a disk check before the backup starts. This is to get rid of any errors that windows or other operating systems may have made to the disk's file system. Most of the time this is not needed. The default option is skip checking of the file system. That's the one we want, so we can press enter to proceed.

Now, Clone Zilla will ask if we want to verify the image is restorable when it's finished backing up the system. it's your choice if you'd like it to double check, in my case I'm going to press enter on yes it's better to be safe than sorry.

Clone Zilla will now display a command that we can copy and paste for future reference if we are working from the command line and don't want to use the interface to restore our image. We will not need to make a copy of the command, so just press enter to continue.

We are now on the final confirmation screen. Clone Zilla will tell us what it's going to do. Review the screen to make sure that it's got everything right using the Speak Up commands. When you've confirmed that Clone Zilla has got everything right, press the letter y for yes and press enter.

Clone Zilla will say ok, let's do it! It will then start the backup process. At this point, you will want to mute speech. Press caps and enter to temporarily mute speech. Speak up is still running, just not reading anything out. You can press shift to reactivate reading of the output. If you press shift and there is no speech output, chances are that the backup is complete. At this point on screen, there will just be a load of numbers indicating progress which you will probably not find it useful to read as they're constantly changing. If you do however want to listen to all the output, feel free. Clone Zilla could take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to complete the backup process depending on the size of your drive, the speed of the drive you're backing up to, and the speed of your computer. A fresh windows install backup for me took just under half an hour. If you press shift and speak up isn't saying anything, review the screen output with the above commands to see where it's up to.

When the backup is complete, if you see no errors the backup has been successful. You will be able to tell because Clone Zilla will inform you as you review the screen that the image is successfully restorable. Press enter twice to return to the command prompt. To power off your computer, simply type poweroff.

Restoring a disk or partition image:

Note: when restoring an image, the target hard disk should be at least the same size (Not smaller) than the imaged hard disk. So for example you cannot restore to a 80GB hard drive if your original drive that you backed up was 160GB.

Boot from the CD as described above.

We need to access our hard drive to erase everything on it. We'll need to use a program called FDisk. Remember the hard disk name we backed up? If not, run the command:

"sudo fdisk -l"

To remind yourself which drives are in your system. Then, type:

"sudo fdisk /drive"

. In other words,

"sudo fdisk /dev/sda"

Or

"sudo fdisk /dev/sdb"

And so on. Be very careful to select the right drive, this process is irreversible!

This will launch FDisk and tell it which drive we want to remove partitions from.

To find out which partitions we have on the drive, press the letter P for partition and press enter. Review the screen, and look for the lines that say things like /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2. These are your partitions which we're going to delete. Count how many you have. Then, press the letter d for delete and press enter.

fdisk will prompt you which partition you want to delete. Press backspace to make sure nothing's in the box, and type the number for example the number 2 to delete partition number 2 and press enter.

It will then say partition has been deleted.

Press d and enter again and the other partition will also be deleted. Keep doing this until you are informed that there are no partitions to delete. However, at this stage fdisk has not actually written the changes to the hard drive. In other words it hasn't actually deleted anything just in case you got something wrong. So we need to tell it that we haven't got anything wrong and we want to actually commit the changes. Press W to write the changes and press enter.

Your disk should now be completely blank.

Launch Clone Zilla by typing:

"sudo clonezilla"

at the prompt and press enter.

Clone Zilla will prompt us to select a mode that we want to work in. arrow up and down to hear the choices. the top most option is already highlighted, device image work with disks or partitions using images. press enter to continue.

After pressing enter, you may receive a cryptic message about a file or directory not found. This message is to be expected as we are running clone zilla from the live CD and will not affect our backup or restore.

the next screen will prompt us to choose a place to save the image to or restore an image from. again the option you want for this guide is local dev. select that and press enter.

you will be prompted to insert your USB drive that you backed up to at this point if you've not already done so. clonezilla will access the drive and display some output to show its detected it. press enter to continue.

next, clonezilla will want us to confirm where it is going to restore the image from.

arrow through the options and choose the partition on the drive that resembles your backup drive. press enter when you've found the drive you want. clonezilla will then proceed to test it can restore from the drive.

next, we're asked if we want to restore from a specific folder, or if we just want to scan in the top directory for restorable images.

if you have a folder specifically for images, arrow up and down and press enter on the folder you want to restore from, in other words the folder you backed up too earlier. If you saved the image in the main folder, just press enter on top directory.

please note also, that only the first levels of folders are shown. you cannot restore from sub folders for example in a folder called backups in a subfolder called images.

next, clonezilla will confirm it can save too and restore from the drive, so we can just press enter to continue.

next, we are asked if we want to use the beginner mode or the expert mode. for this guide, I'd recommend using the beginner mode because most users will never need to use the expert options. to continue, press enter on the beginner option.

we now need to tell Clone Zilla that we want to restore an image. arrow down to the restore disk restore an image to local disk option and press enter.

Clone Zilla will now search your pen drive for images. arrow to the image you want to restore and press enter.

Clone Zilla will scan the hard drives in your system and ask you to select the hard disk you want to restore the backup to. arrow to the one you want and press enter, this is your main hard drive that we just erased.

Clone Zilla will then display a command that command line users can type if you don't want to use the interface to go through the options for a restore. we are not interested in this, so we can press enter to continue.

now, review the screen output. Clone Zilla wants us to confirm that we definitely want to restore the image to the selected hard drive. make sure Clone Zilla has got everything right by reviewing the screen, and press y and enter to continue.

Clone Zilla will want to confirm 1 final time before it starts that you want to continue. review your screen output again, and when you're sure, press y and enter. the restore will now begin, and everything on your hard drive will be over written with the files from the backup.

press caps lock and enter to mute speech. the restore should take slightly less time than the backup process did. again you can check on the status of the restore by pressing shift and seeing if speak up is detecting any output. you can also review the screen to see where the restore is up to, and press caps lock and enter again to mute speech.

when complete, press enter then enter again to exit Clone Zilla and return to the command prompt. to test if things are working and if your restore has been successful, type:

"sudo reboot"

at the prompt then remove your CD before your computer starts up.