Cloning drive to a specific partition

Hello, I know there is an option to “Clone drive” in balenaEtcher, but I want to know more about it. Can you only clone a drive to another entire drive in particular, or can you clone a drive to a partition in another drive?

Welcome to the forums @Wolfy
No, this is not possible. A drive itself can contain much more information like just a partition (e.g. the bootloader) and cloning a complete drive with different partitions into another partition is technical not possible. From a technical standpoint you could clone the partitions of one drive to the partition of another drive - but this would mean that a) that target partition needs to be big enough to house the “new ones” and the target partition will be deleted / replaced by your source partitions. These options are not available in balenaEtcher as they are extremely advanced / edge usecases and it is very easy to destory all files on the partitions in the process or e.g. make a drive unreadable / un-bootable. If you want to do something like you will need to use parted and dd - and you must absolutely know what you’re doing and have all things backuped.

Can parted and dd copy the boot partitions too?

Parted is not meant for that, you can work with dd or better if you want to do some special cloning which is not a simple 1:1 copy, use clonezilla. However, be warned. You have to completely understand what you’re doing there - have backups of files as you will very likely use data in the process on the first trys.

Backups of the files on the drive being copied to, or the source drive being backed up?

Also what could be destroyed in the process?
(P.S. I am talking about cloning a drive to a partition of another drive that is bigger in size than the source drive)

One of the most obvious errors in using dd is mixing up the source and the target drive. So in that case you would destroy the source. I would recommend having backups of both drives if you try something more advanced. However, this is out of the scope of balenaEtcher and there is a lot of information available on the internet regarding dd and the Boot CD version called Clonezilla, so you might want to read up on that :slight_smile:

Okay, question about balenaEtcher again… If the source drive I am cloning is smaller than the target drive, would the cloning still work? Also, can the source drive be destroyed with balenaEtcher drive cloning too?

a) Yes, that should work
b) There should be no problem, but I would always advise to have backups nonetheless. If the files are important, backup.

…Well, you see, it is actually for the exact purpose of backing up. I want to backup the entire drive to another drive, including the boot sector, so I was asking about this.

If you want to clone the drive to an exact replica drive, you can use balenaEtcher.
If you want to do anything different, you can use Clonezilla, Acronis TrueImage or something similar.
But backing up multiple drives to another drive while retaining the boot sector and stuff is not possible like that.
You would need to create an image of the whole drive and store that. You can do this with dd or similar tools, but not etcher.

Thanks! I was just making sure BalenaEtcher doesn’t touch the source drive (Like writing to it instead of reading from it)

It does not touch the source as long as there is no user error :slight_smile:

User error as in an error only caused by the user?

Yes, the source drive will only ever be read. But mixing it up with the target drive will obviously kill it.

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Calling the option “Clone drive” is then a bit miss leading when we mostly know it to be able to clone the entire drive to another drive. So what is the purpose of this function if not to clone, or what does it clone?

Clone drive clones a drive to another driver.
Thats it, you get what you paid for :wink: