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Need to clone a harddrive


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If anyone has experience with dd, I'm hoping I can find out whether or not I can use it for my current situation.

I have a MacBook Pro that I have dual-booting Vista and OSX. In addition, there's a third "data" partition (Fat32) that I keep all my regularly used files on so that I can get to them from inside either OSX or Vista, depending on which I happen to be working within. I've been searching for a while for a good backup solution for this machine, without a lot of luck. I use Acronis TrueImage for other Windows machines, and I like it alot. But it doesn't like working at a partition/disk level on Mac hardware (at least where there's a Mac partition table involved, like on a dual-boot system).

In theory, I could backup each OS individually, but:

1) I'd rather not have to recreate the three multiple partitions if I have a problem in the future, because it was a pain

2) Acronis doesn't work even just for the Windows side, which would mean using multiple products just for windows, PLUS something else on the Mac side

So my plan is to just backup data (files/folders) from the 3rd data partition using Acronis, which works fine. And then, ideally, I'd like a full on bit-by-bit clone of the entire drive, including all partitions, boot records, etc., that I can restore from (or switch to) if there's a big enough problem. Probably would try to do a full drive clone once a month or so and just data in between.

I have very little Unix experience, but I'm wondering if I can:

1) Connect an external drive

2) Boot from a cd that contains dd (Knoppix?)

3) Use dd to clone the entire internal 160gb harddrive to the external drive

Then, in emergency situations, I could either

a) Use dd to restore the entire drive from the external drive, or

B) Just switch drives, if I used another 160gb sata notebook drive in an external enclosure

Can I do this? Should it work, keeping all of my partitions and boot records intact?

Also, assuming it will work, am I better off going with option "a" or "b" when I need to backup? In the case of option "a" would dd allow me to backup from a larger external drive (say 250gb) to the original 160gb internal, if the only thing on the 250gb drive is the clone of the 160gb drive? Or would I need to find an exact size 160gb external drive in order for that to work? (My understanding is that not all "same size" drives are technically exactly the same size, so I'm not even sure how feasible that it without finding an exact duplicate of the MacBook's original drive...)

Thanks for any pointers!

Edited by popechild

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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I've got no experience with dd, but I have used Drive Image Pro a lot, on PCs.

Will Drive Image Pro do the full disk for me (all partitions as one massive clone?) or would it just be for windows from within windows?

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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