Disk Imaging Basics

Dennis Faas's picture

Last Friday's article touched upon the importance of backing up an entire computer system (including Windows itself). As you may recall, disk imaging is mentioned frequently in this newsletter, as it is an important part of 'disaster recovery' planning.

Over the weekend, I received a number of comments and questions from Readers: many of which referenced the fundamentals of disk imaging. Since the questions were similar in nature -- and because disk imaging is such an essential topic -- I have decided to repost an article which illustrates the basics of disk imaging versus 'regular file backup'. Without further adieu, please enjoy this newly revamped 'best of' Infopackets Gazette article on disk imaging.


What would you do if your computer was attacked by a virus, Spyware, or suddenly stopped working altogether?

Yesterday I wrote about a problem I was having with my system: lately, Windows XP would crash intermittently whenever composing an email. Since it was important that my system remain operable -- especially since I receive between 50 ~ 100 emails a day, I decided to restore a disk image of Windows XP.

Side note: Disk imaging software is used to backup Windows and other operating systems. Disk imaging is far more superior than Windows System Restore and can revert your computer system to a previously healthy state within minutes. Disk imaging can also transfer Windows from a smaller hard drive to a larger one -- without the need to reinstall Windows.

Introducing Acronis TrueImage v6.0: software made for Disasters

When I wrote about disk imaging earlier this year, I mentioned two MS DOS-based software titles that have been around for quite some time: PowerQuest DriveImage and Symantec Norton Ghost. It was also at this time that a newsletter Reader emailed me and told me to take a look at a new up-and-coming title, called Acronis TrueImage. Unlike predecessor disk imaging programs which operate primarily from a DOS environment, TrueImage is unique because can create a hard drive backup (called a 'disk image') within the Windows.

Side note: DOS is the predecessor operating system to Microsoft Windows. Unlike Windows, DOS operates from a command line. For example: to load a program, you would typically need to navigate to a program folder (by issuing DOS commands) and then execute a program by typing in its name. A sample MS DOS Window can be seen here.

Acronis TrueImage: Disk Imaging Features

  • Easy to use user interface: creating an image is simple because menu dialogues contain 'easy-speak' computer phrases geared toward new and intermediate computer users.
  • True Disaster Recovery: TrueImage can backup and restore an entire drive letter (I.E.: your C drive, which typically stores Windows). In contrast, 99% of all backup programs are designed to backup personal user files -- but not the operating system itself (or the entire hard drive, for that matter).
  • Seamless hard drive upgrades: Looking to buy a new hard drive but don't want to reinstall Windows and all your applications? TrueImage can transfer Windows and all installed programs from an old (smaller) hard drive, to a new (larger) hard drive.
  • Works with Windows: Unlike MS DOS-based disk imagers, Acronis TrueImage never requires a restart to complete the imaging operation because it is able to image a drive letter solely within Windows. TrueImage also works under MS DOS, incase Windows is inoperable.
  • Span archives: Images files can be stored on removable medium (such as ZIP disks, CD/DVD-R, etc). If the medium is too small for the image file, TrueImage will 'split' the image across multiple volumes. In techy terms, this is also known as spanning an archive.
  • Partial restoration: Copy / move / extract files within the image file (in case partial file restoration is needed, instead of restoring the entire image).
  • TrueImage can write a disk image to the same drive letter which is being imaged. This is not recommended incase the drive being imaged suddenly goes corrupt, but is *extremely* useful for users who cannot backup their system to another hard drive partition or CD-R/DVD media. Side note: To partition a hard drive means to "slice" it into separate drive letters. Hard drive partitioning is often used for organizational purposes (for example: to separate user files from the same drive letter which holds the operating system).

Acronis TrueImage: Screen Shots

Snapshots of Acronis TrueImage 'in action' can be viewed here.


If we lived in a perfect world, Windows would never crash, and upgrading from one hard drive to another wouldn't force us to reinstall Windows from scratch and lose all of our installed programs. Acronis TrueImage is added insurance that your PC can go back in time -- to a state when Windows was working properly.

Acronis TrueImage: Download

Acronis TrueImage has won multiple awards from big-name web sites, including PC Magazine, Cnet.com, ZDNet, and PC Professional. TrueImage v8.0 costs $49.99 and can be downloaded from the RegNow website. To find out more about TrueImage, click the link below; and remember, a portion of the proceeds from TrueImage go directly to fund our web site!


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