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How To Configure a Bootable USB drive for bare metal recovery

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With SBAdmin, it is possible to use a dedicated hard disk for full system backup and recovery (referred to as Local System Backup Disk or SBDIR). On the Linux x86 platform, it is becoming more common to use USB devices as local system backup disks.

This how-to will describe the steps necessary to create a bootable USB local system backup disk. The disk may then be used to recover the original system or for migrating the system to new hardware. This disk is commonly known as SBDIR throughout the SBAdmin application.


  • Linux system running on x86 hardware (capable of booting from a USB device)
  • SBAdmin Workstation Edition or configured SBAdmin Client
  • A USB hard disk or flash-based storage device (*note all data on the disk will be removed)

Creating a bootable USB drive for bare metal recovery

Determinine the attached drive

When using SBAdmin Network Edition, the local system backup disk will be attached locally to a configured client. You should perform the following on the client.

In order to use the drive as a local system backup disk, the drive must be unused and unconfigured. Most USB hard drives and flash drives come pre-formatted which causes them to automatically mount when attached to a system, which makes them in use by SBAdmin standards.

**For this example the USB disk will be refered to as sdb. Make sure to properly identify your removable disk before making any changes because ALL DATA on the disk you configure will be lost**

First, make sure any filesystems on the USB disk are not mounted.
(The following output shows partition 1 of sdb mounted on /media/disk)

# df
Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1              5039560   2442444   2341112  52% /
none                    440760         0    440760   0% /dev/shm
/dev/sdb1              7810152         4   7810148   1% /media/disk

If your USB disk is mounted, use the umount command to unmount it.

# umount /dev/sdb1

Also, make sure the disk or any partitions of the disk are not defined in /etc/fstab.

Using SBAdmin to configure the disk for system backup

Start the SBAdmin GUI with the following command:

# sbadmin

If using Network Edition, select Configure -> Clients and select the client with the attached USB disk.

If using Workstation Edition, select Configure -> Backup Devices -> System Backup Disk/NFS
Use the drop-down button next to the Disks for Local System Backups field to select the disk that will be used (sdb in our case). The default mount point is /backups/local/system but you may change this if you wish.
By default, SBAdmin will select to use LVM when configuring the disk. When using USB disks it is often preferable to use a partition-based disk. Choose the option Partition.
Press the Save button and you will see one last warning that all the data on the disk will be overwritten. Choose Yes and the disk will be configured as a bootable system backup disk.

At this point the disk is bootable and any "Full System" type backups written to the disk may be used for full system recovery.

The configured disk will be presented to you as SBDIR throughout the application (including when configuring a backup job). In addition, when using Network Edition you should select "Client local tape/disk/nfs" as the "Server" to access the device on the client.


SBAdmin recognizes the value and portability of using a USB storage device as backup media. For that, we support the ability to use the USB storage device for the purposes of disaster recovery.