What is Clonezilla?

G. Wiesen

Clonezilla is a computer program designed for use in copying or cloning a hard drive or similar data storage device for easy restoration of a crashed system. This program is similar to a number of other computer programs that can achieve similar results, but it is a freeware program that is free to use and open source. There are two versions of the program: a primary program that is easy to use on a single machine and a server edition that is intended for use on multiple machines at once over a server. Clonezilla was developed by the National Center for High-Performance Computing in Taiwan.

Clonezillas can be spread through USBs.
Clonezillas can be spread through USBs.

The general purpose of Clonezilla, and other similar programs, is to allow a disc drive or partition on a drive to be cloned or copied. This allows fast and efficient data backup, though the real strength of this type of cloning program is in its usefulness in data disaster recovery. If someone is using a computer with a hard drive and part of the drive becomes corrupted or the computer dies, it can potentially be quite difficult to retrieve data off of the drive. A clone program such as Clonezilla makes this process easier by creating a clone of the entire partition or hard drive on a second device.

Performing a backup using Clonezilla is one way to guard against losing information in the event of a hard drive malfunction.
Performing a backup using Clonezilla is one way to guard against losing information in the event of a hard drive malfunction.

Clonezilla can be run on a computer through standard program methods, or it can be used through a secondary device such as a compact disc (CD) or even a universal serial bus (USB) port flash drive. This means that if a computer cannot start up properly, one of these secondary methods can potentially be used to initialize the program and access the data by cloning a drive in the computer. Clonezilla can therefore be downloaded before a problem occurs and kept on a disc or flash drive as an emergency tool in case of critical failure or other computer issues.

One of the greatest strengths of Clonezilla is in its availability as open source freeware for anyone to download and use. This is in stark contrast to similar cloning programs that can be quite expensive and typically require license fees for use on multiple machines. The server edition of Clonezilla can be used on several dozen or more computers at once. This is ideal for a system in which multiple computers are running on a server together, such as through a network, and in which cloning needs to occur across the entire system.

CDs can be used to run the Clonezilla program.
CDs can be used to run the Clonezilla program.

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Discussion Comments


@Melonlity -- cloning programs are important because some files are simply too big to effectively put on a cloud storage system. For example, let's say you took 50 of your favorite DVDs and ripped them to a digital format so you could watch them on your computer whenever you wanted. The resulting files would be huge and it would be impractical to put them on a cloud storage service because access to them would be slow and you could spend a small fortune to buy the space needed to store them. The chances are good that you'd have them on one hard drive and would be in trouble if that hard drive failed and you couldn't clone it.


Why bother with cloning programs at all? Cloud storage is available for either cheap or, in many cases, free and will allow people to easily back up their most important files. And what are those important files? Usually things like word processing documents, spreadsheets, databases and other items that are comparatively small and can be backed up easily in the cloud?

The true advantage of cloud storage is that is provides both backup and "live" access to important files. Software packages that are lost when a computer goes down or a new one is purchased can be replaced easily thanks to license codes, downloading from legitimate sites and DVD-ROM backups.

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