You need to backup an entire hard disk to a single file. Supposing your disk is
/dev/hda and the backup file is
image-file, you’d do:
# cat /dev/hda > image-file
# dd if=/dev/hda of=image-file
The file backup you get will hold a copy of every single bit from the hard disk. This means that you also have a copy of the MBR in the first 512 bytes of the file.
Because of this, you can see the partition table on the backup file:
# sfdisk -l -uS image-file Disk image-file: 0 cylinders, 0 heads, 0 sectors/track Warning: The partition table looks like it was made for C/H/S=*/255/32 (instead of 0/0/0). For this listing I'll assume that geometry. Units = sectors of 512 bytes, counting from 0 Device Boot Start End #sectors Id System image-filep1 32 261119 261088 83 Linux image-filep2 261120 4267679 4006560 82 Linux swap / Solaris image-filep3 4267680 142253279 137985600 83 Linux image-filep4 0 - 0 0 Empty
Suppose you want to extract partition number 3. You can see that it starts at block 4267680 and is 137985600 blocks long. This translates to:
# dd if=image-file of=partition3-file skip=4267680 count=137985600
Peeking into the contents of the partition is as easy as:
# mount -t ext3 -o loop partition3-file /mnt/hack
Also, you can avoid using dd to extract the partition file by passing the
option to mount.