Laptop Internal Hard Drive Cloning/Backup

I have installed Manjaro XFCE in my Laptop, that also has Windows 8.1 in a dual-boot format. The Windows 8.1 was installed earlier than Linux. But, in terms of disk partitions, between two partitions of Windows-based partition, is the partition in which Linux is installed recently.

Now, the issue is when Manjaro Linux is accessed, there is a Continuous “Stroking”/“Screeching” Sound or Noise from the Internal Hard-drive. Sometimes, the stroking sound of the hard-drive becomes “loud” and continuous, when some heavy “processor-intensive” work is carried out, such as during update of Linux. After browsing some internet results, I got the idea that such “sounds” from the Internal Hard-drive, maybe an indication of the End-of-Life of the internal hard-drive.

So, without further ado, I would like to Backup my Laptop’s Internal Hard-drive completely. More specifically, my objective is to “CLONE” the entire internal Hard-drive to an External Storage Device, so that, the same partitions of the internal drive, can be reused later.

Now, some information about the said Laptop: OS: (win8/Manjaro), (around 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD; Ports: 2USB2.0, 1USB3.0, Network: Ethernet/Wifi/Bluetooth, Processor: Intel i3 4th Gen). Let’s refer this system as “System A” from now onward. I do have another tablet PC, whose system config is as follows: OS: Win 11, HDD: 256GB, RAM:16GB, Ports: 2 ThunderBolt/USB-C Ports, Network:Bluetooth, Wifi). Let’s refer to this system as “System B” from now onward. And finally, in near future, I do have plans for buying a new Laptop PC, which will have latest system requirements in terms of HDD, RAM and Processor, and also Network Connectivity, and may have both Windows and Linux as OS. Let’s refer to this system as “System C”.

Now, some additional information about the Internal HDD of System-A:

  • System-A: Dell Laptop Model: Inspiron 15.
  • Seagate Standard Model Laptop Thin HDD;
  • Model No.: ST500LT012-1DG142;
  • Serial-ATA (SATA) interface
  • 5400 RPM ; 6.0 GB/s, 500 GB

Anyway, the following are my questions in this matter. (Note: Primary Questions are denoted in bold, followed by secondary questions/comments in italics)

  1. What kind of external storage device is suitable for the procedure of hard-drive cloning (and, not just a simple backup of a subset of files/folders)? Should it be a rotating-disk hard-drive, OR, a SSD storage? In addition to being of high-capacity, such as 1TB, and with a typical USB connectivity, should it come with additional features in terms of security, network connectivity, data backup (in case of external device failure)? Could you recommend some specific external devices for the purpose of data cloning or any device available in the market is suitable for it?

  2. What is the exact procedure of cloning an internal HDD to an external storage device in the Manjaro Linux environment? What I mean is the step-by-step instructions of using Linux command-line tool/terminal with a precise combination of flags for the particular command(s) to do the task. You may provide any tools with Graphical Interface for this task, but, I prefer Linux command-line tools, preferably with default commands, but with precise combination of the flags of such command(s). Also, some of the files/folders in System-A, have very long Full PATH; So, while copying such data, the Linux command with an appropriate flag(s), should be able to transfer/copy it to an external device, without any interruption. Same behavior from such a Linux command, when transferring/copying any data that is being currently used by the system.

  3. Do I have to “format” the external storage device in a file system format, that is suitable for data cloning operation? Also, will this data cloning operation consume a lot of time given the size of RAM and the Processor Model of System-A?

  4. Now, after the data cloning operation is done from Internal HDD of System-A to an external storage device, I want the data in the external storage device to be readily accessible across all System-A, System-B and System-C, as and when required(or, all the time), and more importantly, it should be “synchronized” with the internal storage data in System-A, as long as the internal HDD is running normally. By synchronization, I mean, any changes in the data of the internal HDD, while using System-A, is reflected in the cloned data of the external storage device, as well. So, what is the procedure of synchronizing cloned data in the external storage device with that in the internal HDD? By procedure, I mean, is there any set of Linux commands that can smoothly perform the task of Synchronization, or, is there any separate 3rd-party tools for it? Also, please suggest a procedure for the following task, as well - if any portion of cloned data is copied to Internal HDD of System-B/System-C, such data should also remain synchronized/updated, whenever the cloned data in external storage device is updated from System-A.

  5. Alternatively, is there any way to stop the screeching sound of the Internal HDD? I tried using Linux Terminal Acoustics Management Tool, but, it says its not supported for this HDD. But, nevertheless, could you please recommend, some hardware or software tools/techniques to control the sound of Internal HDD, while using Manjaro Linux?

  6. Finally, in the set of Linux tools that you may recommend for data cloning operation, and/or, for HDD acoustics management, as well, please provide any word of caution/danger related to the Linux commands/tools, that I need to be aware of, before initiating the data cloning operation.

Note: Some additional comments - If Cloud Storage is a solution in this matter, please suggest that or any alternative solutions as well. So far, I have tried the following commands to get some info about the internal HDD - hwinfo | grep ‘ST500’, sudo fdisk -l, mhwd, lsblk --f, df, hdparm (for HDD acoustics management), but I haven’t used yet smartctl and smartmontools.

So, please suggest any helpful solutions in this matter.

Below is the output of the following command: sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda


ATA device, with non-removable media
	Model Number:       ST500LT012-1DG142                       
	Serial Number:      W3PE61T3
	Firmware Revision:  0001SDM1
	Transport:          Serial, ATA8-AST, SATA 1.0a, SATA II Extensions, SATA Rev 2.5, SATA Rev 2.6, SATA Rev 3.0
	Used: unknown (minor revision code 0x0029) 
	Supported: 8 7 6 5 
	Likely used: 8
	Logical		max	current
	cylinders	16383	16383
	heads		16	16
	sectors/track	63	63
	CHS current addressable sectors:    16514064
	LBA    user addressable sectors:   268435455
	LBA48  user addressable sectors:   976773168
	Logical  Sector size:                   512 bytes
	Physical Sector size:                  4096 bytes
	Logical Sector-0 offset:                  0 bytes
	device size with M = 1024*1024:      476940 MBytes
	device size with M = 1000*1000:      500107 MBytes (500 GB)
	cache/buffer size  = unknown
	Form Factor: 2.5 inch
	Nominal Media Rotation Rate: 5400
	LBA, IORDY(can be disabled)
	Queue depth: 32
	Standby timer values: spec'd by Standard, no device specific minimum
	R/W multiple sector transfer: Max = 16	Current = 16
	Advanced power management level: 254
	Recommended acoustic management value: 208, current value: 0
	DMA: mdma0 mdma1 mdma2 udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 udma5 *udma6 
	     Cycle time: min=120ns recommended=120ns
	PIO: pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4 
	     Cycle time: no flow control=120ns  IORDY flow control=120ns
	Enabled	Supported:
	   *	SMART feature set
	    	Security Mode feature set
	   *	Power Management feature set
	   *	Write cache
	   *	Look-ahead
	   *	Host Protected Area feature set
	   *	WRITE_BUFFER command
	   *	READ_BUFFER command
	   *	NOP cmd
	   *	Advanced Power Management feature set
	    	Power-Up In Standby feature set
	   *	SET_FEATURES required to spinup after power up
	    	SET_MAX security extension
	   *	48-bit Address feature set
	   *	Device Configuration Overlay feature set
	   *	Mandatory FLUSH_CACHE
	   *	SMART error logging
	   *	SMART self-test
	   *	General Purpose Logging feature set
	   *	64-bit World wide name
	   *	Write-Read-Verify feature set
	   *	{READ,WRITE}_DMA_EXT_GPL commands
	   *	Gen1 signaling speed (1.5Gb/s)
	   *	Gen2 signaling speed (3.0Gb/s)
	   *	Gen3 signaling speed (6.0Gb/s)
	   *	Native Command Queueing (NCQ)
	   *	Host-initiated interface power management
	   *	Phy event counters
	   *	Idle-Unload when NCQ is active
	   *	READ_LOG_DMA_EXT equivalent to READ_LOG_EXT
	   *	Device-initiated interface power management
	   *	Software settings preservation
	   *	SMART Command Transport (SCT) feature set
	   *	SCT Write Same (AC2)
	   *	SCT Features Control (AC4)
	   *	SCT Data Tables (AC5)
	    	unknown 206[12] (vendor specific)
	Master password revision code = 65534
	not	enabled
	not	locked
	not	frozen
	not	expired: security count
		supported: enhanced erase
Logical Unit WWN Device Identifier: 5000c5007db7b2c6
	NAA		: 5
	IEEE OUI	: 000c50
	Unique ID	: 07db7b2c6
Checksum: correct

Below is the output of the following command: sudo hdparm -M /dev/sda

 acoustic      = not supported


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That is discussed numerous times on the forum, but here the short version:

  1. Live Session
  2. Mount a USB Drive and run (of course adjust the path/block device):
sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/mointpount/disk.img bs=64K conv=noerror,sync status=progress
  1. Replace the internal HDD.
  2. Again Live Session.
  3. Clone it back (of course adjust the path/block device):
sudo dd if=/mountpoint/disk.img of=/dev/sda bs=64K conv=noerror,sync status=progress

Congratulation… you cloned it. Instead of /mountpoint/disk.img you can also directlly clone it to another block device.

Now reboot… and everything is equal.

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Instead of replacing my internal HDD, I want to continue working with my internal HDD, as long as its working, even after cloning to an external device.

In such a case, Could you also tell how do I keep the data in the external device SYNCHRONIZED with the data in the internal device, preferably using Linux terminal, such as ‘rsync’ or any similar command? Please provide the Linux command/any other tools along with respective options/flags for periodic synchronization.

And, is there any way to control the screeching sound in my internal HDD using Linux terminal? I have already provided the output from Linux terminal regarding acoustic management in my original post.

And finally, do I have to boot from the Manjaro USB device in order to clone my internal HDD to external device, instead of directly copying from mounted device?

Something like this:

  1. Attach the disk image as loop device with
sudo losetup --partscan /dev/loop0 /path/to/disk.img
  1. Now you see in /dev/ all partitions:
ls /dev/loop0*
  1. Now mount a partition (disk0 partiton 1):
sudo mount --mkdir /dev/loop0p1 /tmp/disk0p1/
  1. and then just run rsync as usual:
rsync --archive --verbose --human-readable --progress --partial --fsync  /source/ /tmp/disk0p1/target
  1. When done, unmount:
sudo umount /tmp/disk0p1
  1. and detach the loop device:
sudo losetup -d /dev/loop0

Since the command says “not supported”, the HDD has no capability to manage acoustic control.

I can only imagine that spinning down the HDD when idling could do the trick. So check: hdparm -B /dev/sda and if supported: hdparm -B 60 /dev/sda (something between 1 and 127)

To clone it bit for bit, yes definitely. Cloning means to have an exact copy. You cannot clone a disk/partition which is active (means mounted).