DIY: Get reliable disaster recovery for free

Jack Wallen explains what he likes about Redo Backup and Recovery, and then describes how to use the Linux-based, Live CD, disaster recovery solution.

When you find a free disaster recovery solution, you can assume that: It's probably based on Linux, and it's not going to be fully automated -- if at all. There are two reasons why these concerns should not be an issue:

  • Most Linux-based disaster recovery solutions are in the form of a Live CD, so no installation or (in most cases) knowledge of Linux is needed.
  • Disaster recovery isn't necessarily a task that should be automated. I've seen plenty of automated tasks fail without anyone knowing, so when it came time to rely on that automated service, it wasn't there.

I've tried a lot of disaster recovery solutions, and Redo Backup and Recovery is one of the easiest to use. The Linux-based, Live CD, disaster recovery solution is also reliable and free.


  • No installation necessary
  • Lightning fast booting
  • Very user-friendly GUI
  • Works with both Linux and Windows file systems
  • Network share aware
  • Rescue data from non-booting system
  • Network-able
  • Drive-reset utility
  • Manage drives
  • Full suite of machine auditing software

How to use

The process for using Redo Backup and Recovery is incredibly simple:

  1. Download the ISO image for Redo.
  2. Burn the ISO onto CD.
  3. Boot the newly burned CD on the machine to be backed up.
  4. Select the Backup option (Backup or Restore) from the GUI (Figure A).
  5. If backing up to a network drive, make sure to use the network manager tool (in the system tray) to connect to the necessary network.
  6. Walk through the wizard to set up your backup.
  7. Make sure to select the correct location to store the backup (either attached external drive or network share).

Now let the backup complete.

Figure A

The Options button (at the bottom left corner) includes launchers for File Manager, Image viewer, terminal, text editor, web browser, disk tools, and various settings.

During the backup process, there will be various files associated with the running backup, including:

  • .backup
  • .mbr
  • .sfdisk
  • .size
  • _part*
Each of the _part files will end up being 2 Gb. As a _part file fills up to 2 Gb, Redo Backup and Recovery will move on to the next _part file until the entire drive is backed up. Caution: Do not delete any of the files because doing so will destroy the backup.

Depending upon the type of backup you do (network or connected external drive), as well as the size of the drive on the source, the length of time for the backup to complete will vary. I managed a 30 Gb backup to a networked share in about 90 minutes -- and that was over a wireless connection.

The restore process is equally as easy, only in reverse. Note: The process will only restore to identical hardware.

How to use from USB

It is also possible to have Redo Backup and Recovery on a USB drive for portability. Do not install Redo Backup and Recovery onto a flash drive using a tool like UNetbootin; instead, use the built-in tool that can be found (while Redo is running) by clicking the Settings button and going to Administration | Create Bootable USB. This will start a new wizard that will help you create a bootable, portable installation of Redo Backup and Recovery. Once this flash drive is done, you will be able to boot from it and work Redo's backup and restore magic without having to tote around a disk.

The verdict

Although Redo Backup and Recovery will not automate the process of backing up and restoring from bare metal, the solution does make it possible. The only downside (and this is crucial) is that, in order to have a backup available to restore from, you have to back up the machine.

With the help of Redo Backup and Recovery and a set-in-stone backup schedule (which you will have to run manually), you can recover from a disaster quickly and with very little stress. This makes good DIY sense.