External drive requirements for backing up Manjaro system and data

These maybe naive questions. I want to try the backup procedure suggested here [HowTo] make a crash-proof backup in Manjaro for your entire system. In this procedure, the /home (data) and system files are cloned separately using separate procedures and programs. Does it mean that the target external drives should also be separate? My second question, I heard that some backup/cloning programs require that the target drive should have at least the same storage size as the source. Are there capacity requirements for the backup procedure in the link above? It wouldn’t be cool if I buy a smaller SSD (which is cheaper) only to find that it cannot be used for backup using that procedure.

I wonder what makes you think that some given amount of data would suddenly fit into a a smaller space than what it occupied originally.

Some backup (read: cloning) solutions perform a byte for byte backup of the entire drive (free space included). Further to this, some solutions use compression for the resulting image; some don’t. I think the OP’s question is a fair one, no matter how naive they think it might be.


Firstly, I’ll state I haven’t read the guide you linked to. However, in general terms it’s always best to have as much space available as possible, to perform your backups. This naturally depends upon just how much data you tend to accumulate; remembering, that over time you will probably end up storing multiple copies (or, increments) of your backup.

If you use CloneZilla, for example, you will need storage at least as large as the disk or partition you are copying, free space included (because that’s how CloneZilla works).

I’ve now skimmed that link.

Using TimeShift or BackInTime is different from cloning, and typically backs up a lesser amount of data, however, this can still accumulate over time also. For these methods, I’d suggest a size to accommodate the possible amount of data.
There’s no way of knowing in advance how much data you’d be likely to use; only you can take an accurate guess; either it’s minimal, or it’s a lot; but generally, allow a disk size that’s large enough to hold your personal data, and double it, at least. My opinion is it’s better to have a larger disk, and wasted (unused) space, than to realize it too late.

I hope this helps to some degree. Cheers.


You must have misunderstood or misread my questions. The smaller size is with respect to the size of the source SSD, not the data that the source SSD contains.

Is it better to separate the drive for data backup from the system backup?

The short answer, is yes.

If using CloneZilla, you can clone your Manjaro disk, or home partition (if you have a separate home partition) to an image file, and store it wherever you have enough space. I use this method, and save the cloned image to an external USB drive (I have a 4TB USB drive set aside for that very purpose).

If using TimeShift or BackInTime – use a separate disk (not USB) or a dedicated partition (if there is enough space on the current disk). It is not advisable to store these backups in either /root or home, as this tends to defeat the purpose, when those are what you are usually backing up.

Edit;- In summary, try not to skimp out on the extra storage you probably need, just because smaller is cheaper. HDD’s are still relatively cheap compared to SSDs, and a 4TB HDD (for example) would serve well enough as a backup destination. Of course that assumes a desktop machine.


no, you can keep many clonezilla images you want to keep even on smaller ssd (or Hd) but when you recover the image that should be, the same size o bigger, of the image taken on that ssd (or hd)

I presume what you were trying to say is that CloneZilla will only restore to a disk or partition of equal or greater size.

Yes, CloneZilla does use compression for the resulting images. Regardless, the storage space available must be adequate to store them. How large those images will be depends on how large the partition or disk is to be cloned (less a small percentage thanks to compression).

As mentioned, I keep an external drive available which is large enough to accommodate several clones, if desired.

Yes, right

With clonezilla you can choose to do a part disc backup. It will only backup what is written on that disc so a dozen gb or so & you are all set to go. The smaller you keep it the quicker the process.

I never clone the entire disc. Just backup what’s on it.

With CloneZilla, you either clone a Disk or a partition. If you “never clone the entire disk” then it must be a partition.

I simply clone the /home partition which (for me) typically holds between 100GB and 400GB on any given day.

This is where the value of having a separate /home partition really comes into play. I can clone my valuable data while Manjaro is arguably expendable (read: easily reinstalled).

Must have a different clonezilla to you then.

My partition is 465gb. My clonezilla ‘part’ backup is 14.7gb.

Yeah, no. The image is compressed and the empty space is basically shrunk down to a few kb.
I also think the compression is made in memory because I have at least done backups to a storage with free space that is not even close to the size of the partition I’m backing up.

Other than that I agree to everything said.

I would go one step furhter, why not use the money and get a 6TB old spinning disk? its not like the write speed will be the biggest interest here. Either stick it inside your machine and partition it up, you can use other partitions for other things you know.
Or get an external hd case and keep it somewhere else.
The best is to have it at some other location, think fire, your backups are at a separate place.

And one more thing, ALWAYS keep this partition unmounted, IF god forbid, you were to get affected by a ransomware virus, that partition and those images would be spared because you never have it mounted other than when you run backups (and remove old images).

Yes, but I have no idea how much (or little) free space the OP actually has, so it’s still better to allow as much as possible for the images. The OP is in a better position to judge for himself. Compression in memory: I’m not sure it would be done effectively any other way.

One thing I didn’t to mention was that cloning with CloneZilla is best performed from a bootable media. This could be a Manjaro Installer, however, CloneZilla would also need to be installed on-the-fly in RAM as it’s not available on the Live DVD by default.

I typically would use a copy of PartedMagic which has CloneZilla and GParted available on the downloadable DVD or USB image.

There’s an echo in here: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Now, this is something worth consideration. I never needed to be concerned with that aspect when using an external USB.

The very same CloneZilla, which only clones a disk or a partition. Period. If what you meant by your now quoted ‘part’ backup, actually meant cloning a partition, then yes, that’s true.

CloneZilla uses compression:

If you have, say, a 500GB partition (/home for example) and only have 12GB of data on it, the resulting cloned image won’t be much larger than 12GB; likely smaller, dependent upon the types of data (bitmaps, for example, tend to compress exceptionally well; video, not so much).

If that same 500GB partition has 470GB of data on it, then the resulting cloned image won’t be much larger than 470GB.

When not knowing how much data the OP has, or is likely to have, tell me, which would you suggest: a small disk which may (or may not) hold their data, or a larger disk that will hold at least one cloned image?

So far @Bedna’s suggestion of a 6TB clanker allows for the most amount of storage :slight_smile: – At the end of the day, only the OP can evaluate the trade-offs and decide what they need.

By writing the complete dataset to the selected backup medium and THEN compressing the data. Witch is how I and I think others interpreted your comment about size requirements.

Not sure what you mean by that, clonezilla is bootable (if you select and download the bootable media) just like the manjaro iso is bootable on an usb. You CAN make a menu in grub, load it into ram and run it. Loading clonezilla into ram-disk takes a while for some reason. I have done quite a few experiments with that actually.
I recommend ventoy for all live media. Loads WAY faster than any grub menu entry I tried.
It also does not require your grub to be intact to be able to back up/restore and you can have all your bootable isos accessible from one usb at all times. When new clonezilla version is released, no need to update the grub menu, just throw the iso onto the usb and done.
I just love that software!

Clonezilla can clone partitions or whole disks (witch is just all partitions cloned in sequence if you select to backup to an img). You can select to clone the partition/drive 1 to 1 OR create compressed images of the partitions.
I’m not so sure OP knows the difference so I’ll explain.
A clone means you have 2 hard-drives or partitions that are literal clones. An image backup means the DATA of the partition is compressed into image files.
The second (create img files) is what we all recommend and are using here.

IF you were to only use the cloning instead, the hard-drive would have to be the size of the drive you are cloning. I suspect this is what you were asking about initially about the sizes.
So if you do img backups, no, the disk does not have to match the size of the partition you back up is the best answer I can give to that. But I also argue it is very dumb to be cheap about this space.
It seems the consensus is to get a mechanical drive, because the value moneys/GB is extremely efficient compared to solid state drives.

Simply that CloneZilla isn’t available by default on the Manjaro Live Installer. :wink: