Drive imaging is the process of creating a whole disk backup (image) of a computer or system. Where drive imaging differs from a traditional backup is that it allows a user to restore everything on the system (including the operating system) in the event of a failure.
For example, if a user backs up only his “Documents” folder and his hard drive crashes, he would still have to reinstall the operating system and all of his programs before restoring his documents from the backup. Furthermore, if the user did not backup his music, videos, pictures, etc. or if they were in different folder than the “Documents” folder, those files may be lost for good. Following are some of the benefits of drive imaging:
- Complete Backup – Drive Imaging is a complete backup of the entire computer including the operating system, all running programs, and all files on the computer.
- Faster Restore Time – Drive imaging oftentimes allows you to restore a computer much faster than a typical backup. If a user has a number of programs on his computer, it can take hours or days to reinstall the operating system, all of the application programs, and user files. Restoring a hard drive from a drive image instead of a standard backup solves this problem.
- Faster Deployment – Drive imaging is used by computer system manufacturers and IT professionals when deploying large numbers of computers. For example, if a computer support technician needs to replace 200 computers in a company, it would take a huge amount of time to install the operating system, install all of the application programs, as well as configure the settings for all 200 computers. By using drive imaging, a technician can make a “master image” and deploy this to all 200 computers reducing the amount of time spent deploying these computers and manually configuring their settings.
The main disadvantage to drive imaging is that it may take more space to store a drive image instead of a backup since the image includes everything. However, with the cost of storage continually getting cheaper, this becomes less of an issue.
In the future, we are going to evaluate the different drive imaging programs out there (Acronis, Macrium Reflect, and others) and provide recommendations as to which program is the best. Please revisit this site in the future for updated information.