How to Backup and Restore a USB pendrive (stick) in Ubuntu Linux

USB key

USB key

The following is a bash script I quickly put together to do three things:

  1. Make a full backup (low level disk image) of a USB pendrive.
  2. Perform a full restoration to a USB pendrive from a previously created backup image file.
  3. Wipe a USB pendrive with random data.

The script has two prerequisites:

  • Download and install dcfldd (free open source available from
    dcfldd is an enhanced version of GNU dd with extra features useful for forensics and security.
    The program dcfldd has one supreme advantage over the standard dd utility – Status output – dcfldd can update the user of its progress in terms of the amount of data transferred and how much longer operation will take.
  • The program must be run as root in order to access the USB device.

The script has two default values that may be overridden using the command line parameters.

  • The default backup image filename is:  USB_backup_$RIGHT_NOW.gz
    where $RIGHT_NOW has the format :  YYYY-MM-DD_HHhMMmins
  • The default path to USB device is: /dev/sdg1

# The purpose of this script is to provide backup,
# restoration and cleaning services for a USB drive.
# There are three services provided:
# - perform a backup of a USB drive to a file
# (partition) image.
# - restore a USB drive from an file (partition) image
# - wipe a USB drive with random data.
function usage
   echo "usage: manageUSB [[-f backupfile ] [-d usbdrive] [-b] [-r] [-w]] | [-h]]"
   echo ""
   echo "   -f, --file (optional) name of backup file"
   echo "   -d, --drive (optional) name of USB drive"
   echo "   -b, --backup  perform a backup of the USB"
   echo " -r, --restore    restore a backup to the USB"
   echo "  -w, --wipe      wipe the USB with random data"
   echo ""
function backup
   echo "Beginning backup of USB drive..."
   dcfldd conv=notrunc,noerror bs=4096 if=$usbDrive | gzip > $backupFilename
   echo "Backup of USB drive complete."
function restore
   echo "Beginning restoration of USB drive..."
   gzip -dc $backupFilename | dcfldd of=$usbDrive
   echo "Restoration of USB drive complete."
function wipe
   echo "Wiping USB drive..."
   dcfldd bs=65536 if=/dev/urandom of=$usbDrive
## Main
RIGHT_NOW=$(date +"%F_%Hh%Mmins")
while [ "$1" != "" ]; do
 case $1 in
   -f | --file )         shift
   -d | --drive )     shift
   -b | --backup )  backup
   -r | --restore )  restore
   -w | --wipe )   wipe
   -h | --help )     usage
   * )             usage
   exit 1
if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then


5 comments on “How to Backup and Restore a USB pendrive (stick) in Ubuntu Linux

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  5. tom says:

    nice script. probably some improvements like:
    function usage
    echo “usage: $0 [[-f backupfile ] [-d usbdrive] [-b] [-r] [-w]] | [-h]]”
    echo “”
    echo ” -f, –file (optional) name of backup file”
    echo ” -d, –drive (optional) name of USB drive”
    echo ” -b, –backup perform a backup of the USB”
    echo ” -r, –restore restore a backup to the USB”
    echo ” -w, –wipe wipe the USB with random data”
    echo “”

    function backup
    echo “Beginning backup of USB drive…”
    dcfldd conv=notrunc,noerror bs=4096 if=$usbDrive | gzip > $backupFilename
    if [ $? -ne 0 ]
    echo “ERROR at backup of USB drive.”
    echo “Backup of USB drive complete.”

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