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How to Back up a Hard Drive

Which part of your computer will be most hard to recover, if it is crashed? The answer is - hard drive and its contents. Installation of a new operating system including drivers, registry, applications, settings, etc. requires a lot of time and the data loss can be simply catastrophic.
This problem can be easily solved by keeping an exact copy, or backup of your hard drive. There can be several reasons why you may want to back up your HDD:

Hard Drive Upgrade
If your hard drive stops meeting your needs and you want to get a new and a larger one, you can backup its contents without having to reinstall the OS and the software, and copy data files to the new disk.

Full Backup
Image backup can be used to create a complete copy of your hard drive including the data which are not common files. These data include the partition table, boot records, etc. This is a useful option, when you need to recover the entire system in case of a hard drive crash.

Identical content on multiple computers
You may only install one operating system, and then clone it to other computers.

To backup a hard drive, you need a software that features image-based backup (duplicating of the entire drive, rather than a set of selected files), also known as image backup. The software should support all range of possible operations with partitions and be able to backup one or several partitions – depending on your needs.

Remember, that user interface is of great importance. Ideally, you will only have to click three times and receive a working clone of your original hard drive:
1. Select disk cloning (sometimes it is called “Disk Image”, “image backup”, “drive mirror”, etc.)
2. Select drive or partition to back up
3. Select destination media.

When choosing a backup tool, pay attention to such things as a wizard-based interface, availability of a comprehensive step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting tips.

Summary of what you will need to back up a hard drive:

  • Another hard drive to which you are going to back up your hard drive.
  • Image backup software. There are many programs available on the software market that feature image backup.
  • Remote server or external media (optionally). Some backup tools allow storing hard drive images on other storage media: LANs, DVD, flash drives. Some programs will also support the newest devices such as HD DVD and Blu-ray, and back up to remote FTP/SFTP servers.

Whatever backup program you choose, make sure that the resulting backup contains all the original data.


We also recommend you to see the following pages about backup methods: Full Backup, Incremental Backup, Differential Backup, Mirror Backup.

 
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