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What is a Disk Image


Computers have a habit of going wrong and sometimes when this happens, important data can get damaged or deleted. As is always the case, prevention is the best cure and making sure that you keep your data safe and backed up is essential. A hardware failure alone can be an expensive and time-consuming problem to fix, but it rapidly gets a lot more costly if all of your files and software are lost as well. Creating a disk image offers one of the most effective methods of backing up important data since the entire contents of the disk or other media is backed up in the process. This ensures that nothing important is missed.

Disk images are basically copies of the entire disk. They can either contain a copy of all of the data on that disk, or they can contain a raw image of the disk. A raw disk image is basically a single file of the same size of the backed up hard drive, even containing the blank sectors from the hard disk. This is the most thorough and accurate kind of backup available, but it does require a lot more disk space.

Windows provides a Backup and Restore section in the control panel. This provides the basic features that most users need. In addition to allowing you to easily backup selected files and folders, it can also be used to create a system image which includes a copy of the contents of your hard drive, including not only your personal files, but also your Windows installation, settings and all of your programs. The features provided are not as powerful or as complex as those offered by standalone retail disk image software, but they are good enough for the average user.

Disk images come in the form of a single file, making them easier to move around and use with different types of media (hard disks, flash drives, optical media etc.). Disk images are also used by virtual machines. Virtual machines are emulators for different computer systems running within the host operating system. They use virtual hard disks (disk images) for storing data. For example, you may run a Windows XP virtual machine in Windows 7. Windows XP will be installed on the virtual hard drive, which when viewed back within Windows 7 itself, it will be a single file.

 

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