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How to Restore Clonezilla Backups to Different Partitions

Clonezilla is a popular software for you to clone your hard disk. However, if you tried to restore a specific partition’s backup to a new HDD that you’d already set up, Clonezilla might have refused to do it. It might have insisted on auto-selecting different partitions and not allowing you to choose where you want your backup restored.

In this guide, we show how to restore your Clonezilla backup to a different partition of your choice (not its choice).

The problem with changed storage assignments

When trying to restore a previous Windows backup through Clonezilla, as in our case, it insisted on restoring it to device “sda” instead of our preferred destination: “sde.” Clonezilla had hard-locked the “sdX” assignment of the original partitions and wouldn’t allow the backup to be restored to different ones.

It’s a justified choice, having the user’s best interests in mind. Clonezilla tries to restore the partitions to their original location so that the operating systems within would remain in working order after restoration.

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Restoring To Original Partitions

One solution to such a problem would be to rearrange all your storage devices to the same way they were originally so that Clonezilla can recognize the device and do its job. There is another solution: get Clonezilla to recognize your new setup.

Hand-editing backups

Let’s begin by assuming that you already have a backup that you want to restore.

Open your file manager and pay a visit to your backup’s folder. Duplicate it as a precaution since we’ll be directly altering its files. One wrong move, and the backup could be rendered useless.

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Copy Backup

Let’s say that you want to restore a backup with two partitions, like a typical Clonezilla backup of a Windows system partition and its accompanying boot partition to an empty secondary HDD. The HDD may have ample free space, but Clonezilla can’t restore to empty space. For this, we will use GParted to partition the HDD. You can skip this step if you’re planning to restore over existing partitions.

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Hdd With Empty Space

Right-click on the unallocated space and create two empty partitions where the original partitions from the backup will be restored.

Note: the new partition targets should be at least as large as the original partitions. Clonezilla can’t, for example, restore a 100 GB partition backup on an 80 GB blank partition.

Double-check the “sdX” assignment of each partition and note the ones you’ll use as your destination.

Go back to the folder of the clone of your backup. We must stress this: leave your original backup untouched and only tweak the clone. Rename the folder to something like “Backup-Test” to be sure you’re in the correct folder and not altering your original backup.

See how some of the files have the sdX assignments of the original devices/partitions in their name? It’s time to rename them. If your backup source were “sda2” and “sda3” from the device “sda,” as in our case, but you now want to restore it to partitions “sde3” and “sde4” on device “sde,” rename all files to reflect that change.

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Renaming Backup Files To Proper Partition Name

The next step is to edit the file “dev-fs.list” with a text editor. You’ll find references to the previous partitions inside. Update it to reflect your new partition scheme.

Let’s repeat this last step for clarity’s sake (and to minimize any chance of a wrong move resulting in data loss). If “dev-fs.list” contained references to partitions “sda1” and “sda2,” but you want to restore your backup to partitions “sde3” and “sde4,” replace “sda1” with “sde3” and “sda2” with “sde4.”

Repeat the previous step with the file “parts.”

Save the changes for both files and exit your text editor.

Restore your backups to where they should be

Fire up Clonezilla again. Choose “Restore Partitions” and point it to the folder where you keep your backups. However, this time, choose your new, renamed backup that you just edited to point to your new partition scheme.

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Choose Editted Backup

In one of the next steps, Clonezilla will report that it found backups for the new “sdX” partitions instead of the originals!

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Success Proper Partitions

Double-check that you’re restoring to the proper spot and not over other partitions that contain useful data, when Clonezilla asks about it, right before it actually starts restoring your backup.

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Restoring After Having Created Missing Partitions

Success! After restoring the backup, mount the new partitions and check their contents. In our case, everything was in working order, where it should be.

Clonezilla Alternate Destination Check Mounted Restored Partition Content