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Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison

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What’s the Difference Between Disk Cloning and Disk Imaging?

When it comes to backing up your data, two methods remain amongst the most popular options: disk cloning and disk imaging. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two very separate and distinct processes. To put it simply, disk cloning creates a complete, verbatim copy of your current hard drive and copies it to a second drive or storage medium. In contrast, disk imaging creates a single compressed file of your hard drive’s contents. But this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the differences between disk cloning and disk imaging.

Disk Cloning

A standard disk cloning operation has numerous benefits over disk imaging. Some of the primary points include:

1. The ability to create a complete copy of one hard drive and immediately transfer it to another. Your second drive will immediately be usable upon completion of the cloning activity.

2. The data on both drives will be identical. This works well if you’re trying to achieve data redundancy within your system.

While the two points mentioned above aren’t the only benefits of disk cloning, they are amongst the most valuable. To produce a usable copy, however, your original system must be in good working order. Any corrupted files or data will still be unavailable on the new drive.

Disk Imaging

Some users choose disk imaging as an alternative to disk cloning. There are also many benefits in doing so, including:

1. Disk imaging saves hard drive space by compressing the entire contents of your hard drive.

2. You can restore your system to a previous, working state simply by loading up the disk image and restoring it to the drive in question.

As useful as disk imaging is, there are some drawbacks. Because the contents of your drive are put into a compressed file, the data isn’t immediately accessible – it must be uncompressed. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but many software developers use proprietary file formats that can only be opened with their specific program. If you ever want to switch programs, you’ll need to make a brand new image of your disk to go along with it.

Cloning a Disk Via an Image

Hard drives can also be cloned using a disk image. In this case, a compressed image is created of your original hard drive and immediately restored to a second drive. Once again, this ultimately yields the same results – you’re just taking a different route to get there.

Cloning vs. Imaging: Which One Is Right For You?

Today’s computer users are free to use whichever method they prefer to backup their data. After all, both disk cloning and disk imaging achieve the same result in the end. However, there are situations where one method is more efficient than the other. If you’re upgrading your hard drive to a larger capacity, for example, disk cloning is far quicker. Disk imaging is typically reserved for full system backups due to the advanced compression techniques.


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