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Home » Backups, Disaster Recovery

Backing Up WSL Images

Submitted by on October 1, 2020 – 8:13 am

Microsoft’s WSL is interesting. I’d go as far as to say that I like it. The mistake here would be to forget that your Linux image is running under Windows, with everything this entails. Making a reliable backup of this thing proved harder than I expected.

I have Acronis True Image running on my Windows 10 laptop, doing a daily backup to a NAS share. This would’ve been perfectly sufficient for restoring any Unix or Linux system. Windows is another story, however.

Simply restoring the rootfs folder of a damaged WSL Linux image doesn’t do the trick. When you launch the image following such a restore, it will tell you that it is performing an upgrade and will exit shortly thereafter without giving you any clues as to the cause of the problem.

So here’s what I ended up doing…

Install Chocolatey

Run cmd.exe as admin and copy the appropriate command string from here. It should be something like this:

@"%SystemRoot%\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe" -NoProfile -InputFormat None -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command "iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))" && SET "PATH=%PATH%;%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\chocolatey\bin"

Install LXRunOffline:

choco install lxrunoffline

List registered images:

cd C:\tools\lxrunoffline
LxRunOffline.exe l

Export image to file:

NOTE: You may run into this error: “The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process”. Should this happen, rebooting Windows prior to the export operation is likely to resolve the issue. I know, this sucks. But this is Windows after all…

cd C:\tools\lxrunoffline
LxRunOffline.exe e -n Ubuntu -f C:\zip\Ubuntu.tar.gz

Import image from file:

cd C:\tools\lxrunoffline
LxRunOffline.exe i -n UbuntuNew -f C:\zip\Ubuntu.tar.gz -d C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Packages\UbuntuNew


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