This article is dedicated to documenting methods of imaging partitions. Typically when one looks for information on the internet for free and open source drive imaging solutions, they find information on partition imaging, described in a way to suggest this is drive imaging, but it is not. Drive imaging is imaging the entire drive (not just one partition if the drive has multiple partitions), for an easy backup, and restoration of an entire drive (all partitions, where the partitions reside on the disk, etc.).

Gathering drive partition information for restoration

If the intention of performing a partition clone, is to either restore that partition to another drive, or to the same drive after changing the filesystem structure, one would want to gather the filesystem metadata. Otherwise, feel free to skip this section.

GPT formatted drive

Warning /!\ These instructions assume your drive is partitioned in the GPT format. For more this, please see the UEFI specification here.

  • Obtain information on flags, labels, sector size, partition table, and filesystem type:

    sudo parted /dev/sda print
    Model: ATA SanDisk SDSSDP12 (scsi)
    Disk /dev/sda: 126GB
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
    Partition Table: msdos
    Disk Flags: 
    Number  Start   End    Size    Type      File system     Flags
     1      1049kB  109GB  109GB   primary   ext4            boot
     2      109GB   126GB  17.1GB  extended
     5      109GB   126GB  17.1GB  logical   linux-swap(v1)
  • Next, one will need where the disk sectors start and end, and disk label:

    sudo fdisk -l
    Disk /dev/sda: 117.4 GiB, 126035288064 bytes, 246162672 sectors
    Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    Disklabel type: dos
    Disk identifier: 0xc57a55d6
    Device     Boot     Start       End   Sectors   Size Id Type
    /dev/sda1  *         2048 212768767 212766720 101.5G 83 Linux
    /dev/sda2       212770814 246161407  33390594  15.9G  5 Exten
    /dev/sda5       212770816 246161407  33390592  15.9G 82 Linux
  • Next, check sector alignment value of original disk:

    sudo gdisk /dev/sda
    Partitions will begin on 2048-sector boundaries.
    With this information, one may then restore a partition to one that has the exact same drive metadata.

MBR formatted drive

This is common for a Windows partition (ex. Windows 8.1 with one main partition, and one boot partition).

sudo parted /dev/sda print
Model: ATA Samsung SSD 850 (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 250GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: msdos

Number  Start   End    Size   Type     File system  Flags
 1      1049kB  368MB  367MB  primary  ntfs         boot
 2      368MB   225GB  225GB  primary  ntfs

sudo fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 250.1 GB, 250059350016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 30401 cylinders, total 488397168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x99218dc1

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *        2048      718847      358400    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda2          718848   439554047   219417600    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT

sudo sgdisk -D /dev/sda

Found invalid GPT and valid MBR; converting MBR to GPT format
in memory. 


Clone a partition with partclone

partclone provides utilities to save and restore just the used blocks on a partition. Partclone supports ext2, ext3, ext4, hfs+, reiserfs, reiser4, btrfs, vmfs3, vmfs5, xfs, jfs, ufs, ntfs, fat(12/16/32), and exfat.

An example of cloning an NTFS drive:

partclone.ntfs -c -d -s /dev/sda1 -o sda1.img

Restore an MBR formatted partition

sudo parted /dev/sda
sudo fdisk /dev/sda
sudo partclone.restore -d -s sda1.img -o /dev/sda1
sudo partclone.restore -d -s sda2.img -o /dev/sda2

Windows caveat

While this restoration method will work for Windows 8.1, Windows may temporarily prevent one from using BitLocker. One may fix this issue by booting into the Windows Recovery Environment and executing in a command prompt: }}} bootrec /fixboot }}} For more on this, please see here.


PartitionImaging (last edited 2015-05-29 10:28:24 by penalvch)