Backups: Slow and Painful

So in my previous post I showed you how to do a a file copy and I mentioned a bit by bit copy. File copies are cool because they copy only the files. Bit by bit copies copies all of the data and includes the zeros. So if you are backing up a 40 gig drive that has 8 gigs of data a file copy will copy the 8 gigs of files where as a bit by bit copy will copy all 40 gigs. Also this means that the output file will be the size of the source drive.

That’s some of the down sides, but here are some good points. A bit by bit copy can copy things like your file system, your master boot record and your partition table. In some cases, you might find it faster to do a bit by bit copy because a file copy must insert files in to the destination file system. On some systems with millions

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or more small files a file copy will be much slower. You can also set the destination to another drive and produce an identical copy of the original without having to partition, format, and then copy the data.

That said here is how you can make a quick backup of your system. I will assume your machine uses sda as its root drive. Please keep in mind that your source drive and your destination file must not

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be on your source drive.

~ # dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/backups/sda.dd

Once this is complete the /mnt/backups/sda.dd file should

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be an exact copy of the source drive. It is also possibly to target specific partitions of a drive by setting the if=/dev/sda to if=/dev/sdaX, where X is the partition number of your drive.

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