Best way to replace a drive with a clone

Jussi Lehtola jussilehtola at
Sat Jul 31 20:21:58 UTC 2010

On Sat, 2010-07-31 at 12:59 -0500, Steven Stern wrote:
> According to the SMART stats, the single drive in my Fedora server is 
> starting to fail.  Rather than backup, do a clean install, and rebuild, 
> I'd like to try to clone the existing drive to a new one, then swap in 
> the new one.
> What are the restrictions on doing this and the best way to accomplish 
> it?  I have the Clonezilla Live CD that I use for backup.  Will that do 
> it?
> Or will a straight dd do it?
>      add new drive as PATA slave /dev/sdb
>      dd -if /dev/sda -of /dev/sdb
>      remove /dev/sda
>      change the jumpers on /dev/sdb to match what was /dev/sda
>      reboot
> In the dd procedure, I'm not sure what to do if sdb is larger than sda.

What I normally do is boot the system e.g. with the Fedora install CD in
rescue mode, which automatically mounts the old system, and then I

 1. partition new drive
 2. format partitions on new drive
 3. mount new filesystem tree in e.g. /mnt/newroot
 4. run
     # rsync -au /mnt/sysimage/ /mnt/newroot/
 5. edit fstab in new etc to reflect new partitions
 6. install grub on new drive
 7. unmount and reboot

This way you can easily change the sizes of partitions and also their
file systems, which can be handy if you want to take advantage of new
file system features. And, you only copy the data, not empty space (I
don't think dd does this, although smarter tools should do it).

Also, if you're running SELinux run
 # touch /mnt/newroot/.autorelabel
before rebooting, since rsync doesn't preserve security contexts..
Jussi Lehtola
Fedora Project Contributor
jussilehtola at

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