E2IMAGE(8) System Manager's Manual E2IMAGE(8)
e2image - Save critical ext2/ext3 filesystem data to a file
e2image [ -rsI ] device image-file
The e2image program will save critical filesystem data on the ext2
filesystem located on device to a file specified by image-file. The
image file may be examined by dumpe2fs and debugfs, by using the -i
option to those programs. This can be used by an expert in assisting
the recovery of catastrophically corrupted filesystems. In the future,
e2fsck will be enhanced to be able to use the image file to help
recover a badly damaged filesystem.
If image-file is -, then the output of e2image will be sent to standard
output, so that the output can be piped to another program, such as
gzip(1). (Note that is currently only supported when creating a raw
image file using the -r option, since the process of creating a normal
image file currently requires random-access access to the file, which
can not be done using a pipe. This restriction will hopefully be
lifted in a future version of e2image.)
It is a very good idea to periodically (at boot time and every week or
so) to create image files for all of filesystems on a system, as well
as saving the partition layout (which can be generated using the using
fdisk -l command). Ideally the image file should be stored on some
filesystem other that the filesystem whose data it contains, to ensure
that its data is accessible in the case where the filesystem has been
To save disk space, e2image creates the image file as a sparse file.
Hence, if the image file needs to be copied to another location, it
should either be compressed first or copied using the --sparse=always
option to GNU version of cp.
The size of an ext2 image file depends primarily on the size of the
filesystems and how many inodes are in use. For a typical 10 gigabyte
filesystem, with 200,000 inodes in use out of 1.2 million inodes, the
image file be approximately 35 megabytes; a 4 gigabyte filesystem with
15,000 inodes in use out of 550,000 inodes will result in a 3 megabyte
image file. Image files tend to be quite compressible; an image file
taking up 32 megabytes of space on disk will generally compress down to
3 or 4 megabytes.
RESTORING FILESYSTEM METADATA USING AN IMAGE FILE
The -I option will cause e2image to install the metadata stored in the
image file back to the device. It can be used to restore the
filesystem metadata back to the device in emergency situations.
WARNING!!!! The -I option should only be used as desperation measure
when other alternatives have failed. If the filesystem has changed
since the image file was created, data will be lost. In general, you
should make a full image backup of the filesystem first, in case you
wish to try other recovery strategies afterwards.
RAW IMAGE FILES
The -r option will create a raw image file instead of a normal image
file. A raw image file differs from a normal image file in two ways.
First, the filesystem metadata is placed in the proper position so that
e2fsck, dumpe2fs, debugfs, etc. can be run directly on the raw image
file. In order to minimize the amount of disk space consumed by a raw
image file, the file is created as a sparse file. (Beware of copying
or compressing/decompressing this file with utilities that don't under-
stand how to create sparse files; the file will become as large as the
filesystem itself!) Secondly, the raw image file also includes indi-
rect blocks and directory blocks, which the standard image file does
not have, although this may change in the future.
Raw image files are sometimes used when sending filesystems to as part
of bug reports to e2fsprogs. When used in this capacity, the recom-
mended command is (replace hda1 with appropriate device):
e2image -r /dev/hda1 - | bzip2 >> hda1.e2i.bz2
This will only send the metadata information, without any data blocks.
However, the filenames in the directory blocks can still reveal infor-
mation about the contents of the filesystem that the bug reporter may
wish to keep confidential. To address this concern, the -s option can
be specified. This will cause e2image to scramble directory entries
and zero out any unused portions of the directory blocks before writing
them to the image file.
e2image was written by Theodore Ts'o (tytsoATmit.edu).
e2image is part of the e2fsprogs package and is available from
E2fsprogs version 1.37 March 2005 E2IMAGE(8)