Best 10 Disk imaging software - August 2019
- Number of reviews
This is a type of software tools that allow users to create an image of the hard drive or the whole system - as a backup option, or to clone it. In its initial idea, this process involves creating an exact copy of the disk, with all installed programs and settings, and then storing it in a special compressed format. With the help of this option, users can safely install an exact copy of the system on another computer or hard disk, in case of unpredicted failure - be it a virus attack, system crash, or some external problem.
With uprise of virus and hacking technologies, and overall broadening of PC functionality, security issues have become even more relevant. Many viruses can destroy or damage your system, which can lead to its failure or complete collapse. For such emergency cases, we can use disk imaging software that will allow to restore data, with all the settings and programs preserved, with minimal data loss or even without it. Also, most imaging programs allow creating media storages, that later can be used to extract, unpack, restore a backup, even if the computer does not boot from its own disk. Usually, they are flash drives or CDs.
Disk imaging is the key function of course. Note, that the speed of process and the size of output files are important. For basic understanding, disk imaging is the process of creating an exact copy of a disk for its backup recovery. During it, one large file (usually compressed) is produced, which is later used for recovery process. Disk cloning is the process of cloning all the data on disk, and the output file will be the same size as the initial one. Although it might seem similar to creating a disk image, there are certain differences. Cloning creates an exact functional copy, so it can be replaced and used as the main one if something happens to the original version.
File backup is used to make restoration possible. An important function when a user has to take care of security of just some parts/folders/files, but not the whole disk. This option is often found in disk imaging programs, which is not surprising, because it is similar to what is required to create disk images, but on a smaller scale.
Boot disk option is the creating of a device to boot a disk image. Since disk image usually takes a lot of space, it is usually stored on external resources for convenience and data security. This function allows users to create a "boot disk" out of external devices, which when connected automatically allows to restore data.
Encryption while making a disk image is applying encryption methods to protect data from intruders. Made possible via password that is added to access a disk. Also, this function is important when there is an option for transferring data to external resources, so that during the process no one could interfere.
Scheduling is intended for creating updated versions of disk images regularly, or according to user's preferences. To get the latest versions of a disk, you can set creating or updating (for already existing image). A user spicifies date, or day of the week / time period, when the program will automatically update. The task is to decrease the chance of data loss to minimum.
Cloud backup allows uploading data to cloud resources. And since a disk image usually takes a lot of space, it is a common practice to store it on 3rd-party resources for the practicality's sake. It is also important that data would be saved even if the system is physically malfunctioning, so that you can transfer it to other devices. Some disk imaging software tools offer access to own cloud servers, for an additional payment.
Usually, disk imaging programs offer a trial period, and suggest a paid subscription afterwards. A typical trial period is 30 days, but there might also be shorter variations. Most companies offer to buy a program for a period from one year. Depending on needs and number of devices, subscription options will differ: the average price for home version is about $30-$60. In addition to the standard version, most vendors offer professional, advanced and other types of products with advanced or extra features. Those prices may vary from $40 to $100-125 on average, although there are exceptions for $300 and more.
The following disk imaging tools proved efficiency during series of tests, offer complete functionality and speed of work:
Today, cloud storage instead of external physical device for data becomes more and more relevant. People want to be able to use a backup copy at any time. Therefore, when choosing a program, pay attention to this aspect. Another important function is data encryption while transferring it to cloud servers, to ensure it will be unusable for hackers if they get hold of it.
Many disk imaging tools can operate in the background and utilize minimum amount of PC resources. So, it is worth paying attention to whether a program can run in the background or not. Also, when choosing a disk imaging app, consider its sale offers. The fact is that some companies, for example, SmartDeploy, offer their product only as wholesale, and subscription starts with at least 50 devices.
Its also good to find out whether or not the disk update schedule is available. Most programs contain this feature, but nonetheless. Data transfer via FTP, SMB/AFP would be a handy option for companies with PC networks. All in all, it is recommended to start with trial and determine whether a tool suits or not. MacOS users will need to look thoroughly for disk imaging software for Mac specifically, as those are scare.
What is a disk image?
Disk image is a copy of the entire contents of a storage drive. The disk image represents the content in the same way it appears on original drive, including both data and structure information.
Why do I need data backups/disk images?
Backup copies of disk images could become really helpful, when breakdowns or other force-majeure circumstances arise - to recover data without loss. They can also be used when a user plans on setting up multiple PCs with similar or identical settings.
What is the difference between disk imaging and disk cloning?
Disk imaging software is often referred to as disc cloning software. While these two processes basically do the same – copy disk data, there’s a difference. Disk imaging copies the contents and creates a bootable OS on a hard drive, and disk cloning only makes a backup copy of hard drive contents.
What encryption methods do disk imaging programs use?
Usually, these are AES-128, AES-192, AES-256 bit encryption.
What is the most popular OS for disk imaging software?
More than 70% of all programs, related to disk imaging, are designed for Windows OS. Some operating systems, such as Linux and macOS, have built-in virtual drive functionality, althouh Windows 8 and 10 have it as well.
What file format are disk images in?
In most cases, file format is tied to a particular software package. Programs define and use their own, often proprietary, image format, though some formats are widely supported by open standards - ISO, IMG, AA, AFF, BIF, BIN, CDM, CUE, etc.
What is the best disk image software?
In this category (directory above) you will find some really good disk imaging tools, such as Active Disk Image, Hard Disk Manager, R Drive, EaseUS Todo Backup.
Is disk imaging and backup basically the same thing?
No, but they are similar in their purpose. Many disk imaging apps include the option for backups, and vice versa. With expansion of all kinds of software, these two features are often offered in one package, but not always, as there are programs only for backups or only for disk images.
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