On Windows there is software like Acronis True Image that can create full backup images of a currently running system. Is there any alternative on Ubuntu for doing that?


  • still supported / maintained (e.g. not the case for systemback)
  • is able to make a consistent backup of a running system (e.g. live CDs like clonezilla are not what I am looking for)

Thanks for any hint on this!

  • What is your use case scenario? Is this just to make a backup? Backing up running systems is inherently inconsistent. – FreeSoftwareServers Nov 14 '18 at 20:53

You can use tar. Tar is free and can be used on a running system to both backup and restore. I have used it to successfully restore to a running (but unstable) system. For Ubuntu, there is a very nice tutorial here on how to use it to backup and restore in many different scenarios.

Here is an example of creating a full backup:

tar -cpzf /path/to/backup.tar.gz --exclude=/tmp --one-file-system /

-cpzf create a new zipped tarball and preserve all file permissions

--one-file-system do not backup mount points and non-file dirs like /dev

To improve archive speed, you can pipe the output of tar through pigz which will use all your cores in parallel to zip the file. You might need to install pigz using apt-get.

Here is an example of creating a full backup using pigz:

tar -cpf - --exclude=/tmp --one-file-system / | pigz > /path/to/backup.tar.gz

To restore, run this while logged in as root to a running system:

cd /
tar -xpzf /path/to/backup.tar.gz

To restore from livecd:

cd /media/ubuntu/your_old_drive
tar -xpzf /path/to/backup.tar.gz --numeric-owner

--numeric-owner restores file ownership without translating the user id (very important when restoring from a live cd)

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