Searching for the fastest "cloning" solution

Hello everyone,

I’ve been using clonezilla for several years, mostly out of habit, to clone and restore my entire disk.

It’s true that it’s reliable, it’s a real Swiss army knife when it comes to supporting various file systems, and it’s saved me several times,
However, I find it rather slow. I’m looking for a faster solution given my configuration (triple-boot installation on btrfs file system with systemd-boot).

On this occasion, I discovered the importance of making snapshots before risky operations. Which is very fast comparede with other rsync based softwares.
Realizing that snapshots were not a backup solution in themselves, I looked into the question of btrfs backups on external media and found that backup/restore was much faster and more reliable than with clonezilla (restoration of a particular volume), saving me the headache of preserving restoration rights.

However, I’m still stuck on the idea of looking for a fast cloning solution, but I wonder if it’s really worth it. Using btrbk software seems quicker to automate the backup of all my sub-volumes, but what I still regret is that it doesn’t include the possibility of restoring them just as easily.

In this context, does the search for faster cloning software still seem useful to you?

PS: I’m well aware that backups (or snapshots) don’t include the /efi partition and kernels in my case, unlike disk cloning, which preserves a completely coherent system.

Thank you for your feedback.

Backup is an interesting and important subject.
There can be many goals what a person may want to achieve.
Ideally, making full and complete backups constantly would be nice, but the problem is it takes lots of time and space.
So, in practice, it is wise to prioritize what to backup.

For many users the most important backup concerns personal data because this material is unique, i.e. is not available from any other source. On the other hand, the operating system can be re-installed relatively easily as the ISO is available without backing it up :wink:.

And backing up only personal data saves lots of time and space compared to backing up the whole disk/partitions.

So, to make backup operation fast, limit the data to backup to only essential stuff, i.e. data that is either impossible or very difficult to obtain. Then you can use the backup software of your preference.

Note that I’m not recommending any apps for this, there are plenty available.
I’m only trying to figure out what is the essential data that I think is worth backing up.

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Clones for backups seems awful bloated to me as @manuel stated the OS is non essential for backup as it is easily regained from the ISO. I personally just backup my personal user data. I make sure to even remove cache and trash from my backups as I want to use backup space for MY FILES ONLY not OS files.

Another issue with Cloning besides the time is that a clone will take you back to a place in time and from there you have to take it to your current. (ie… Upgrade)

Thank you for your point of view.

I agree that only personal data really matters, but on reflection my problem may be related to my configuration.

  • Triple boot isn’t necessarily quick to set up on a Brtfs file system (grub to configure, chain…or refind) , most distro installators don’t implement it or you have to install inside a chroot with pacstram or Debootstrap,
    You generally do these operations once, and then forget how grub works, how you installed Sid in a chroot…

On the other hand, the Btrfs file system allows you to create new “partitions” in a very flexible way, which is very practical. Disk space is shared, and it’s precisely this disk layout that the default distribution installer doesn’t offer that I wouldn’t want to rethink in the event of a breakdown, e.g. the snapper configuration for my system.

It seems to me that when using Btrfs for these reasons, a sub-volume backup is more justified than the use of cloning.

Have you ever tried using gparted to clone the drive?

To me? No. I am a backup fanatic where I always have a minimum of two different ways data is being backed up. I have the worst luck with data loss. My drive failure rate is outrageous.

That being said, I have never once thought, “I wish I had a clone of this drive”. I know a lot of people like clones because they can just plug them in and have a system but the effort and space it takes doesn’t seem worth it to me.

I was booting 8 different distros on one of my laptops out of single btrfs filesystem. I converted all the distros to systemd-boot and it “just works”. Since each distro manages it’s own boot entries, there is no playing with grub or refind to get it to detect things or setting up manual boot entries on each bootloader.


I’ve heard of this solution before, when I had a pc with a bios/mbr boot.

It seemed attractive, provided you don’t have fun changing the size/location of partitions (which I did quite often) to avoid screwing up your boot.

Now that I no longer have a bios/mbr boot and an extXX partition but Brtrfs, which means I don’t have to keep changing the size of my partitions, I might give it a try.

You may benefit from taking down some notes the next time you go through this process. I am the same way–I will spend a lot of time figuring out how to get something working the way I want, but the next time I am faced with setting it up I can’t remember crucial details and I have to research the process again.

Having some notes about how you set something up can make reproducing an installation a piece of cake. I can generally get a fresh Arch installation installed the way I like, with packages and configs and all, in about a half hour because I have all the needed steps outlined for myself in notes.

I have been using Joplin for a while to keep my notes organized and it works great, but even copying down notes in a .txt file is enough in some cases. For certain things, I have found good documentation can be more valuable than a backup.

As far as backup solutions go, I think Borgmatic is excellent. It’s pretty easy to set up and works great. It’s simple to restore the backups as well, and you can even mount a backup repository and “walk through” the backup if you want to restore a single file or directory instead of pulling down the whole backup.

Your backups will take up less disk space compared to a clone, since Borg uses de-duplication and compression. It will also be way faster. The first backup takes a while, but after that only files that have been added or changed need to get copied in so it can be pretty quick.


for my personnal data I use a shared data directory between all distros.

For backing it up I use anacronopete. It acts as a timemachine. I’ve listen about Borg but not borgmatic, I will have a look at this.

Borgmatic is just automation to make managing borg backups easier. It handles running the backups on a schedule, retention policies, ensuring integrity, etc. I use it as well.

There is also a couple of GUIs for borg. One is Vorta which provides a decent amount of the functionality. The other is a gnome tool which is extremely limited in what it supports.

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I finally got rid of grub. The vacations are finally starting :-).

I’ve always been amazed that grub is almost more complicated than linux, even though we’re only talking about a boot loader. Not enough to keep a beginner at the slightest failure :slight_smile:

je dirais même qu’il s’est imposé à linux comme windows s’est imposé comme l’os incontournable. Sans trop de remise en cause, malgré son inutile complexité.

far be it from me to troll, this is just my personal opinion.