Disk imaging software is a valuable tool for hard drive migration, data backup and computer recovery operations. By design, the image format provides exceptional stability for cloning whole disks and hard drives, which makes it perfect for migrating data from your old computer or cloning the larger hard drive on your new one.
You can use a high-quality image of your computer’s hard drive to completely restore not only your critical work files, personal photos and videos, but also entire applications, system settings and drivers. As with any type of backup file, it is recommended that you store them on an unattached device such as an external hard drive or network location. Because of the large file sizes, most hard drive cloning software is capable of splitting images for burning across multiple disks.
Additional backup features enable you to keep your imaged drive up to date so you can pick up without missing a beat after a catastrophic failure. To take advantage of those capabilities, you should clone the hard drive of a new computer after loading all of your software. Following a full backup, an imaged file can be updated differentially, which is where only the changed information is saved. Incremental backups, on the other hand, create complete images of your drive a little at a time so as not to take up all of your system resources at once.
Should you ever have to reformat the hard drive, the clean image will save you the time of having to reinstall all of your old software, including your hardware drivers, and tweak system settings and preferences.
For more information about how disk imaging software works and how you can keep your data secure, check out our articles on disk imaging software. Also, take a minute to read about the top three imaging products: Acronis True Image, Paragon Hard Disk Manager and EaseUS Todo Backup Home.
At a minimum, disk imaging software must create a usable image of your targeted file, disk or hard drive. We looked beyond that requirement for disk imaging software that not only captures and loads a usable image, but also provides additional features like usability and compatibility. The last thing you’ll want to do when trying to resurrect your computer is to get stuck in a long learning curve or find that the software you’re using can’t even identify the file you’re trying to open. We place a high value on imaging software that is easy to use.
Below are the criteria we used to evaluate disk imaging software.
Imaging & Backup Options
We looked for imaging software that gives you options for preserving your data. The best imaging software offers you the choice of differential or incremental backups of your important files while automatically backing up the vital portions of your operating system. Combined with options on skipping auxiliary files, compression and encryption will mean the difference of gigabytes in your imaged file size.
Boot & Recovery Media
Having an alternate type of boot recovery media available is important. Sometimes a damaged computer coming back online does not have the capability of running an optical drive. In these situations you will want a USB installed boot device or even network deployment capabilities.
Restoration & Storage
For successful restoration, it is critical that the imaging software restores your data perfectly. Many of the best imaging software products let you restore files and folders individually. The best imaging software allows for network deployment of your backup on several computers at once, even to those having dissimilar hardware.
Help & Support
Maintaining a backup drive image in case of disaster – or simply to set up new hard drives – is critical, and any confusion or trouble can be very alarming. We looked for companies that offer telephone and email support, along with online user guides, FAQs and knowledgebase materials. Video tutorials and online communities are excellent support options as well.
In the event of file loss or catastrophic failure, you need to know that your data is still available for complete restoration. Our selection process will help you understand the available options.
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