How can I boot from an external USB HDD if it has 3 partitions, 2 of which should be bootable?

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Problem :

I’d like to use Clonezilla for backing up the C partitions of two separate laptops. My idea was to create two bootable FAT32 partitions on my external USB HDD (next to a main partition for other backups).

Now I have the problem that my HDD won’t boot. I think the problem is that there’s 3 partitions on the HDD, two of which are bootable and I can only choose “USB Storage Device” rather than the separate partitions in the boot menu.

Could anyone please suggest how/whether I can use part of a single HDD to backup two C partitions?

Thank you in advance.

Solution :

Clonezilla lets you backup doing either a full clone (partition to partition) or a backup (partition to image). If you choose the second, you can backup the two different laptops into the same external HDD partition (just name the image files different).

As for the booting partitions, I think you need a bootloader in order to tell the BIOS from which partition you want to boot. The easiest way to avoid this would be one of the following:

  • Disable one boot partition and install Clonezilla to the other boot partition, so there’s only one boot partition.
  • Install Clonezilla to an USB pendrive so you can run it from there. I find this one the best solution.
  • Burn Clonezilla to a CD and use it from there.

In your specific case, if you want to use the external HDD for both Clonezilla and backups, I would repartition it so it has one partition (bootable) for Clonezilla and the rest of the disk for the backups. Then you can start Clonezilla and do the backups as partition to image, so you will only need one partition to store all the backups you want.

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