5 Awesome Open Source Cloning Software

last updated in Categories Datacenter, Hardware, Open Source, Storage

Cloning is nothing but the copying of the contents of a server hard disk to a storage medium (another disk) or to an image file. Disk cloning is quite useful in modern data centers for:


  1. Full system backup.
  2. System recovery.
  3. Reboot and restore.
  4. Hard drive upgrade.
  5. Converting a physical server to virtual machine and more.

In this post, I am going to list the Free and Open Source Cloning Software for Disk Imaging and Cloning that you can use for GNU/Linux, *BSD and Mac OS X desktop operating systems.

1. Clonezilla – One Partition and disk cloning program to rule them all

Clonezilla is a partition and disk imaging/cloning program similar to True Image and Norton Ghost. I frequently use Clonezilla software to do system deployment, bare metal backup and recovery. Clonezilla live is good for single machine backup and restore at home. Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment in data center, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency. It supports the following file systems

  1. ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserfs, xfs, jfs of GNU/Linux
  2. FAT, NTFS of MS Windows
  3. HFS+ of Mac OS
  4. UFS of BSD
  5. minix of Minix and VMFS of VMWare ESX.

=> Download Clonezilla

2. Redo Backup – Easy to use GUI based backup, recovery and restore for new users

Redo Backup and Recovery is a bootable Linux CD image, with a GUI. It is capable of bare-metal backup and recovery of disk partitions. It can use external hard drives and network shares (NFS/CIFS) for storing images. Major feature includes:

  1. It can save and restore MS-Windows and Linux based servers/desktop systems.
  2. No installation needed; runs from a CD-ROM or a USB stick.
  3. Automatically finds local network shares.
  4. Access your files even if you can’t log in.
  5. >Recover deleted pictures, documents, and other files.
  6. Internet access with a full-featured browser to download drivers.

=> Download Redo backup

3. Fog – Perfect cloning solution for Microsoft shop

FOG is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Linux (limited) that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. FOG doesn’t use any boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Your PC boots via PXE and automatically downloads a small Linux client. From there you can select many activities on the PC, including imaging the hard drive. FOG supports multi-casting, meaning that you can image many PCs from the same stream. So it should be as fast whether you are imaging 1 PC or 40 PCs.

=> Download Fog

4. Mondo Rescue – Disaster recovery solution for enterprise users

Mondo is reliable disater recovery software. It backs up your GNU/Linux server/desktop to tape, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R[W], DVD+R[W], NFS or hard disk partition. Mondo is in use by Lockheed-Martin, Nortel Networks, Siemens, HP, IBM, NASA’s JPL, the US Dept of Agriculture, dozens of smaller companies, and tens of thousands of users world-wide. It supports LVM 1/2, RAID, ext2, ext3, ext4, JFS, XFS, ReiserFS, VFAT, and can support additional filesystems easily. It supports software raid as well as most hardware raid controllers.

Mondo Rescue In Action
Mondo Rescue In Action

=> Download Mondo Rescue

5. dd and friends – The ol’ good *nix utilities

Warning: dd/ddrescue/dcfldd are power tools. You need to understand what it does, and you need to understand some things about the machines it does those things to, in order to use it safely.

The dd command converts and copies a file. You can clone a hard disk “sda” to “sdb”:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=1M conv=noerror

To clone one partition to another:

dd if=/dev/sdc3 of=/dev/sdd3 bs=4096 conv=noerror

For more info see:

  1. How to make disk image with dd on Linux or Unix
  2. Linux Copy One Hard Disk to Another Using dd Command
  3. Linux dd Command Show Progress Copy Bar With Status

dcfldd: A fork of dd

dcfldd is an enhanced version of GNU dd with features useful for forensics and security. Here is an example of cloning a hard disk “sda” and store to an image called “/nfs/sda-image-server2.dd”:

dcfldd if=/dev/sda hash=md5,sha256 hashwindow=10G md5log=md5.txt \
sha256log=sha256.txt hashconv=after bs=512 conv=noerror,sync \
split=10G splitformat=aa of=/nfs/sda-image-server2.dd

GNU ddrescue is a data recovery tool. It copies data from one file or block device (hard disc, cdrom, etc) to another, trying to rescue the good parts first in case of read errors.

=> Download dcfldd and GNU dd (GNU core utilities and installed on most Unix-like systems)

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.


21 comment

  1. An increasing number of new machines come with uEFI enabled in BIOS (does not require MBR). Sadly, this review of available backup solutions does not mention which of them supports uEFI. Its a must for any IT professional to know these things.

  2. Hey! Where is Acronis in this list? Probably one of the best cloning and backup tools available. The boot disk absolutely rocks!

  3. my roomate’s step aunt makes 78 each hour on the internet and she has been unemployed for twelve months.. the previous month her revenue was 17681 just working from home a couple of hours per day.. check out this link

  4. Cloning Mac drive is a good way to backup entire Mac and carry in your pocket. Disk Utility can clone Mac drive but that will not be a bootable clone. So there are many reliable software like Stellar Drive Clone, CCC etc. for delivering a bootable clone of Mac OS X with in few clicks.

    1. Yes, Both these are definately good for mac drive cloning task. But there are doznes of mac drive cloning tools like CCC, Stellar Drive Clone available for Mac users to create clone of Mac HDD and drive imaging and bootable clone.

  5. It’s probably worth mentioning that FOG isn’t exactly for the faint of heart (at least in relation to some of the other solutions listed here). It requires a working webserver, working database server, working network infrastructure (i.e. no cloning to an external drive, unless it’s attached storage at the FOG server node or NAS somewhere else in the network), and a functioning PXE server (which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to set up properly). Nonetheless, it is a powerful solution for anyone who’s doing something more than one-off cloning/resto for a damaged HDD here and there.

    1. Cloning in the sense this article uses would exclude rsynce; rsync doesn’t clone a hard drive; rather, it copies filesystem contents to another, pre-existing filesystem . You wouldn’t, for example, be able to use rsync to copy an existing server to a completely blank HD without an MBR.

  6. Nice article – But you forgot to mention REAR (Relax and Recover), it’s really a nice piece of software.

    1. I’am freelancing at home, by working basic jobs that only requires from you a PC and internet connection and I am happier than ever… 6 months have passed since i started this and i got paid so far in total 36,000 dollars… Basicly i profit 80 bucks/h and work for 3-4 hrs most of the days.And great thing about this is that you can determine your own working hours and you get paid weekly.

  7. Can anyone comment on whether any of these tools can successfully clone to an SSD (solid state drive = flash memory), so that the alignment is correct, and bootable?

    1. give more precision. Did you plan to clone a windows master partition? If it was the case, forget cloning, it won’t boot at all either an SSD, nor a plain old HDD.

      1. Eh – Cloning works for windows. Only HAL is the main thing not to do (Architecture. ).
        I cloned almost similar hardware (OEM machines), and you need sysprep (up to win7, not yet checked win8 or above)…
        w7 – w8 already works with incremental chunks of imaging. Never mind.

    2. No, tho you can align the partition afterwards to the correct sector. However, the cloned filesystem may not line up optimally for an SSD. For non-Windows systems, rsync’ing to a new filesystem would be the way to go; for Windows systems, you’re looking at a full reinstall, alas.

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