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An overview of disk imaging programs

September 27th, 2011 No comments

You may never have used or even heard about any disk imaging programs, but does that mean you shouldn’t know about it? Probably not. Knowing how to use one could save you lots of time. Also, you may never need to re-install Windows and software programs, tweak/configure your program settings, and also restore your data, if you use such a program.

Even if a catastrophe doesn’t strike, there may be some kind of hardware failure like hard drive failure or the system not booting due to some human error. Whatever it is, you don’t want to spend days to reinstall Windows, software and then configuring them, do you? This is why you need a drive-imaging program that backs up your complete system—including all your data and applications—and can restore it all in minutes.

The usual backup programs just backup files and folders, but drive imaging programs do a lot more than that – they backup everything on your drive partition as it is, so that when you restore the whole partition, it’s also able to boot normally (in case of the system or Windows’ partition). And all of this is done in minutes. An ordinary backup program makes copies of your files. On the other hand, a drive imaging program makes a byte-by-byte duplicate copy of your whole hard drive (or one or more partitions, depending on your hard drive structure and the partitions you choose to backup), maintaining the identical data structure.

Even if your drive fails physically, if you have an image backup, you can just put in another hard drive and restore to that drive or partition from your backups. In a matter of minutes, you’d have your system up and running like as if nothing had happened! You can also restore in situations like when your system becomes unstable due to some software program or malware that you installed. It’s much better in cases where Windows System Restore fails to restore the system.

Of course, you could achieve the same result by reinstalling Windows and all your drivers and applications—if you can find them again. And then you could use a conventional backup program to restore your data. But that process would likely take a day or two, if you’re lucky, and your system still won’t have all the tweaks and customizations that make it your own.

It’s useful to have a drive imaging program even if your hard drive never failed. You could also use the program to clone a single system to multiple computers. Some programs even allow you to transfer the image of your current system to other computers having different hardware, without installing Windows – something that’s not possible when you upgrade to a new system.

Many imaging programs of today can run in the back, and you can keep running your other programs and working normally. They can even create incremental and differential backups, which just store the changed files. This speeds up the time it takes to do the daily backup to a great extent.

If your system or the hard drive fails, you can even boot the system using a previously created emergency disc to restore it from the backup image.

Even if your system is running fine, such programs can help you by getting back an older version of any file. You can just mount the backup image, which looks like a drive letter in Windows explorer, and then extract the file you want.

To know how to install and configure the free great backup program from EaseUS, read this post.