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In our business there are times that you have to work with windows boxes.
The main problem with that is that they are constantly broken.

So is there a efficient way to build a proper backup image ?

The answer is YES, by using SystemRescueCd[link1] and ntfsclone[link2]

For this example lets say that our primary disk is /dev/sda
and our backup disk is: /dev/sdb

(in the real world, my windows disk is a lvm partition)

Boot your SystemRescue CD or USB 

easy peasy


Verify your disks

eg. fdisk -l

Device Boot Start End  Blocks Id  System
/dev/sda1 * 63 10458314 5229126 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
2048 10485759 5241856 83 Linux

Be careful

ntfsresize --info /dev/sda1

The result of the above command will determine the next step.
If there are errors, you must reboot to windows and check your disk, defragment or what ever process you must run to fix your disk.


Backup MBR and Partition Table

You should/must take backup of MBR (Master Boot Record) or even the boot loader using dd[link3] command

dd if=/dev/sda of=sda.mbr bs=512 count=1

dd if=/dev/sda of=sda.vbr bs=512 count=63

It is also a good idea to dump to a file your existing partition table:

sfdisk -d /dev/sda > sda.ptab

if you want to restore the partition table from your backup file:

sfdisk /dev/sda < sda.ptab


Perform Ntfs Clone

Mount your backup disk to an empty directory,

mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/custom/

and start ntfsclone

ntfsclone --save-image --output /mnt/custom/winxp.ntfsclone /dev/sda1

And simple wait for a minute or two (or ten or an hour – depends of the disk size).


Restore your ntfs clone backup

ntfsclone --restore-image --overwrite /dev/sda1  /mnt/custom/winxp.ntfsclone


[link1] http://www.sysresccd.org/SystemRescueCd_Homepage

[link2] http://www.tuxera.com/community/ntfs-3g-download/

[link3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dd_(Unix)