#StackBounty: #linux #backup #disk-image #rescue-disk #sparseimage How to create sparse, bootable Linux backup images?

Bounty: 50

I’ve set up a new workstation with a freshly installed and furnished Linux Mint Debian Edition 4 system and would like to create a backup image in order to save time in case something breaks. This is the situation:

  • Workstation: 512 GB SSD with 12 GB of data, may contain bad blocks
  • Backup drive: 64 GB USB flash drive

If possible, the backup image should be bootable, just for the added flexibility of being able to start the workstation system from any compatible host computer. Its main purpose, however, is a rescue backup for safe storage only and not regular use.

As I understand, such a backup requires a sparse image based on files, since both the backup drive and the replacement workstation drive may have a different – possibly much smaller – size than the source.

What is a good way to do this? AFAIK, dd just copies bit by bit and ddrescue can only "sparsify" blocks of zeros into metadata, but not unused space filled with random data. Some disk cleanup tools offer to fill unused space with zeros, but this usually takes many hours and I’m not sure if this is good practice for collapsing data.

I need a reliable, but easy solution as I don’t have any expertise on file systems, partition structures, boot sectors etc.

Get this bounty!!!

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