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Linux: How to backup hard disk partition table (MBR)


by nixCraft on July 10, 2006 12 comments Last updated September 3, 2007

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Linux: How to backup hard disk partition table ...

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If you don't want to take any chances with your data, it is recommended that you backup hard disk partition table. Last Friday I was discussing some issues with one of our customer and he pointed out me dd command.

Backup MBR with dd command


dd the old good command which now backup partition tables even writes CDs ;). Backing up partition is nothing but actually backing up MBR (master boot record). The command is as follows for backing up MBR stored on /dev/sdX or /dev/hdX :
# dd if=/dev/sdX of=/tmp/sda-mbr.bin bs=512 count=1

Replace X with actual device name such as /dev/sda. Now to restore partition table to disk, all you need to do is use dd command:
# dd if= sda-mbr.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=1 count=64 skip=446 seek=446

dd command works with Solaris, HP-UX and all other UNIX like operating systems. Read man page of dd for more info. Tweet
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Linux: How to backup hard disk partition table ...

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Top 20 OpenSSH Server Best Security Practices Top 20 Nginx WebServer Best Security Practices 20 Examples: Make Sure Unix / Linux Conguration Files Are Free From Syntax Errors 15 Greatest Open Source Terminal Applications Of 2012 My 10 UNIX Command Line Mistakes Top 10 Open Source Web-Based Project Management Software Top 5 Email Client For Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows Users The Novice Guide To Buying A Linux Laptop { 12 comments read them below or add one } 1 Wartin April 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm dd if= sda-mbr.bin it has a blank space after =, it should read dd if=sda-mbr.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=1 count=64 skip=446 seek=446 Reply 2 PT August 10, 2010 at 5:14 am This advice does not work if you have an extended partition table. Reply 3 VernDog January 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm Wrong! This method DOES WORK with extended , primary partitions. Ive used it all the time, to both backup & restore. Just remember to backup MBR if you add any changes to partitions. Reply 4 brendan December 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm No. Hes right. The MBR lists whether a partition is active, its type, start point and number of sectors within the partition. MBR lists this for a maximum of 4 partitions. This not include logical partitions. They are described within the extended partition. They are not described in the MBR. Reply 5 Jack October 9, 2010 at 9:47 am
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Linux: How to backup hard disk partition table ...

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PT, You can use sfdisk to backup extended partition table. sfdisk -d /dev/sdX > backup-sdX.sf Restore: sfdisk /dev/sdX < backup-sdX.sf Reply 6 jns August 22, 2011 at 6:07 am The restore line corrupted my entire partition table beware, i guess Reply 7 victor September 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm jns, it could be because only one seek is needed. there are 446b of MBR, 64b of Partition Table and 2 as end (0x55aa). {= 512b} if skip and seek arent synonimous, you seek 446 + 446. thus, command line must be dd if=sda-mbr.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=1 count=64 skip=446 or dd if=sda-mbr.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=1 count=64 seek=446 Reply 8 victor September 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm im sorry, im mistake. error coud be if mbr is all zero. then you must add conv=notrunc for no le optimization. ej: 2GB le dd if=/dev/zero of=ale bs=1 seek=2GB count=1 (le size in hd<1kb) or dd if=/dev/zero of=ale bs=1 count=2GB (le size in hd=2gb) size must be specic in bytes, 2gb is only for easy read. note: a little bs spend more time Reply

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Linux: How to backup hard disk partition table ...

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9 Mr_T September 13, 2011 at 7:31 pm Victor, In your rst post, could you clarify the units you are using for mbr and the partiton table and what is the 2 as end means. Its not intuitive to the uninitiated. Thanks Reply 10 brendan December 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm Hes talking about bytes. 446 bytes of Bootstrap code, then 4 partition entries x 16 bytes = 64 bytes, then 2 bytes of signature (a 16 bit number = 0101010110101010). This is 55aa in hex and 21930 in decimal. Reply 11 brendan December 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm 446 + 64 + 2 = 512 bytes :) Reply 12 Marek December 7, 2011 at 11:19 am What about GPT ? Reply Leave a Comment Name * E-mail * Website

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Tagged as: backup hard disk, dd command, disk partition, master boot record, mbr, partition table

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