back to article Clonezilla 3: Copy and clone disk images to your heart's content

Clonezilla 3 is a new version of an (almost) universal disk-imaging and duplication tool which can copy, or image, almost any mass storage device. Remember Norton Ghost? It was discontinued nearly a decade ago now, in 2013. There are lots of alternatives to it out there, including commercial ones, but Clonezilla is handy …

  1. Craig 2


    "duplicate your old hard disk onto the new superfast drive"

    Probably the fastest way to revive an ageing PC and make it useful again. Chuck in some extra RAM and you're golden for a few more years.

    Not used Clonezilla, Macrium Reflect does the job for me and it's been painless and reliable. (and free for typical users)

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: SSD

      Back in the days of NT4 & Win2k, my sure fire way to improve a computer's performance was to re-install Windows.

      1. trindflo Bronze badge

        Speed up Windows

        One of my favorites was to delete the MasterIdDataCheckSum Value from the registry. Every time there is an error on a disk, Windows accumulates the error and will slow the disk over time. Delete these values and the system would speed up noticeably. I wonder if this still happens on SSDs; it doesn't seem like it should.

        ghacks article to speed disk

    2. andy gibson

      Re: SSD

      Its even faster if you start with a fresh install rather than cloning.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Craig 2 - Re: SSD

      That's exactly what I did to my venerable 15 years old Dell Latitude laptop and it is still pretty usable these days. The only Microsoft supported OS is Windows XP and that would be fine with me but, unfortunately, Mozilla Firefox stopped being updated a very long time ago on this platform. Good news is Linux Mint latest version works just fine so the machine is not yet ready for the landfill.

      1. Starkoman

        Re: @Craig 2 - SSD

        ♻️ Not that electronics or any laptop should ever see the inside of a landfill, of course.

    4. Danny 14

      Re: SSD

      veeam backup then bare metal restore. This resets a few markers and is good for new hardware transfer too. Is free for extra measure.

  2. chuckufarley Silver badge

    I use Clonezilla...

    ...for monthly backups on my home LAN. I start a VM with the the live cd (no other storage) that uses the host's filesystem cache, select the Lite Server option once it's booted, and mount the NFS share on my file server. Then I reboot each of my computers one by one and boot them from the network using Clonezilla's iPXE and back up the partitions. No need to mess with USB drives at all.

    1. Danny 14

      Re: I use Clonezilla...

      take a look at FOG project. You can cron your backups automated if you prefer to hold images rather than backups.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > Unix graybeards may now be thinking "but I could do that with dd,"

    Would you mind not spoiling my comment next time? :'(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Liam…

      dd is one of the included tools for reading or writing an image. this just makes it a little easier. everyone wants easier greybeards and assumptive young ones alike.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Liam…

        "everyone wants easier"

        No we don't you young whippersnapper. We want an unlabeled prompt where we have to enter dd commands from memory!

    2. Conyn Curmudgeon

      Re: Liam…

      graybeards? Greybeards ? or neckbeards? Or are they all the same distro?

    3. herman Silver badge

      Re: Liam…

      Just to be persnickety, the good old kitty cat syntax is prolly less confusing than dd.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The provisioning via PXE could be handy though, especially when working on development that requires real hardware to test.

    1. GidaBrasti

      In a previous life PXE mode was a lifesaver provisioning 30-something PC's in a uni lab environment that students would break, part of the training, almost weekly.

      Cloning a golden image on 30 PC's every Friday while sitting back and relax was perfect intro for pub time.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        I built a process to do that two or three times daily using Dos Ghost (v 6.0 IIRC - pre Norton bloat!) from a selection of OS images stored on a normally physically disabled hard disk. The local storage allowed a guaranteed 10 minute turnaround of a class full of machines between lessons. I believe I even had a Solaris build in there for the particularly adventurous at one point ...

    2. Danny 14

      this what FOG project does. If you still use sysprep then it is a valid golden sample image deployment tool.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Its been a while since i used Clonezilla but in my old job working for a schools IT dept it was used regularly to restore the OS on PCs after a HDD died from a master image.

    I do recall that it couldn't restore a partition to another a disk smaller than what the original one was you were cloning from, even if the actual amount of data to copy was lower.

    Eg if you had a 250GB partitions with 100GB of data, you could only copy it to a disk of 250GB or greater not a 200GB disk even though the data would fit on there, as Clonezilla couldn't resize partitions on the fly.

    This was a slight issue if you used a different manufacturers drive where one was actually 250GB and the other was only 249.9GB. So we started leaving the last couple of GB unpartitioned on the drives to get around that problem.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "This was a slight issue if you used a different manufacturers drive where one was actually 250GB and the other was only 249.9GB. So we started leaving the last couple of GB unpartitioned on the drives to get around that problem."

      I remember chatting with an admin of a university data centre. He did the same thing because he'd found swapping out a disk in a RAID array caused the same issue even through the replacement drive was the same manufacture, same model number. Once bitten, twice shy.

  6. dermots

    Clonezilla is powerful, flexible, comprehensive and great for confident and knowledgeable users. But Macrium Reflect is rather more user friendly.

  7. picturethis

    I use Clonezilla, but I wish...

    I use Clonezilla quite often and for all of my cloning needs (Windows & Linux systems), the interface requires some getting used to, at least for me it did.

    My only wish/request is that I wish the developers would move to an OS that did not utilize systemd. For this specific (single-use) application, I would think that it wouldn't matter and it only encourages the (systemd) crap to continue.

    I almost stopped using it when Clonezilla updated to an OS that used it. I still use the earlier versions (when I can) that didn't have systemd.

  8. hamiltoneuk


  9. Kev99 Silver badge

    Help me out a little. My laptop has a 125GB SDD. I want to put in a new 250GB SDD. Is Clonezilla3 the tool I need? Or should I drop Ventoy on a USB then Clonezilla?

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Keep it simple

      You don't need Ventoy, that's just a selector for different bootable images, where you would be selecting Clonezilla3.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Ventoy let’s you put multiple boot images on the same USB stick.

      You never “need” it, it is just a useful tool to have.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Is Clonezilla3 the tool I need?

      Not much detail to go on but in the typical case you can use this tool or just plain dd.

      Just remember to resize the file system once the disk has been cloned and if you go.

      PS: if your /etc/fstab uses labels, remember to update them.

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      I think the article describes using Clonezilla and then using gparted from the other distro called "System Rescue CD" to make your 125 GB partition bigger, but I haven't touched this stuff for a while. And when I looked last, Windows apparently wanted to put dozens of partitions onto any disk drive for no reason I could understand. Like, you want three partitions to use, you get I don't know fifteen so that they have plenty of friends.

  10. Joe Drunk

    Only tool that can successfully restore a Linux image backup

    I installed Lubuntu 18/EXT4 on an old Dell PC I had. I imaged the drive with R-Drive, Macrium, Acronis, Paragon, Aeomei and Clonezilla. They all appeared to image the drive successfully to an external USB HD. Each time I wiped the source drive and booted off rescue media to restore with the above tools. They all appeared to restore successfully. Lubuntu would not boot. Repeating the same steps except this time I restored with Clonezilla and Lubuntu booted up to the exact same state as when the image was created. I also repeated the same steps except this time it was with Windows 7 x64. Wiped the drive, restored with Clonezilla, Windows 7 booted to the exact same state when it was imaged.

    Clonezilla is definitely the most flexible imaging tool regarding file systems/OS I've used. Yes, the interface can be daunting to novices but El Reg regulars shouldn't have any problems. I'm not sure if it has the ability to restore an image to an HD that is a different size than the source, maybe someone else can chime in but Clonezilla live is definitely on my Ventoy USB drive alone with other bootable ISO tools I consider essential.

  11. Mr Anonymous

    Windows imaging

    Not to dis clonezilla and OSS in general I have used CZ many times in Linux, but if you use Windows check out I have used this for weekly full drive images and nightly diffs to network storage on 5 servers for over 15 years and it has never failed. Started on physical machines and used the images to move to xen (virtual iron), then kvm and back to hyper-v with a move to vmware along the way ( no auto conversions, you have to know you stuff here) You can mount the images and recover individual files in a running OS or boot a bart-cd and restore from scratch. All this from within a running server, with mssql, running mail servers and web servers. Great when someone deletes their inbox. Never let me down. Not affiliated, just really grateful user of a good bit of code and a bonus, it's cheap too. Hopeful someone finds this useful.

    1. Joe Drunk

      Re: Windows imaging

      Thanks but unlike Clonezilla Drivesnapshot is NOT free. Additionally, both Aeomei and Macrium have free versions for home use, have been tried and tested on various Windows servers/workstation editions and have support forums. I have tested Macrium extensively with Windows XP, 7 and 10 and have found it to be a reliable drive backup tool

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows imaging with Macrium

        One nice thing is you can image to a external drive then mount the image with Macrium on a new PC.

        Was very useful when moving the Church's data to a new PC. The old PC stopped powering up* right after the new PC was ordered. But when I went to transfer the data it happened to boot so I used Macrium to image the disk quickly.

        * In case you ever have a similar problem. It turned out the old PC would power up if you left it unplugged overnight. It wasn't a laptop so it wouldn't have been a problem for me. But with some laptops being glued shut and maybe having SSD's soldered on the main board, it's probably worth a try.


    For system level backup and restore check out Foxclone...

    ... much easier to use that Clonezilla...

  13. arbivore

    Our Linux boxes all get a cron mediated disk erase and image restore from a FOG repository using pxe boot to launch clonezilla over the LAN. This means that whatever shenanigans our Linux users get up to are wiped away regularly in a process that takes less than 5 minutes and needs no admin time to execute. It happens at 3am. We update the image occasionally if we find an improvement we think would be advantageous.

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