By Delia / Last update June 6, 2022

What is a backup image of hard drive

Hard Drive

The backup image of a hard drive is to compress all the contents on this disk to an image file and it comes along with a specific file extension, such as, .vhd or vhdx. And, it may vary depending on the backup software you are using.

With this backup image, you can restore your computer to an earlier date if the disk is damaged or system crashes, since it includes the operating system and all the boot-associated partition(s), installed programs, personal data, etc

Besides, it gives you the ability to restore backup image to new computer with different hardware and boot from it successfully. This is called bare metal restore. And usually, it's feasible on third-party software instead of built-in software.

Why create a backup image of your hard drive

Protect data safety. Besides deletion or damaged, you may encounter data loss (eg: critical photos, costly music collections and sensitive financial information) when hard disk corruption or system crashes. And the loss of this irreplaceable data could be devastating. Usually, you can run this task schedule and backup all the changes made later. 

Restore computer quickly without reinstalling. Creating a disk image will include the operating system and other system startup required partition(s), so you can easily recover your computer when it is not bootable. No reinstallation and data loss.

Best free disk imaging software for Windows PCs

The built-in tools is a great options if you want to backup files or create system image in Windows 10 on USB, but it does not offers you a way to directly create disk image. In this case, you can only turn to a third party backup software for help. AOMEI Backupper Standard is a good option due to the following advantages:

Create a backup image of your hard drive easily and run this task automatically. It offers you daily, weekly, monthly schedule backup, and more precise, you can set backup date, time and intervals.
Backup only changed files. By default, it uses incremental bacup as backup method, which only backup changes since last backup, whether it's full backup or incremental backup.
Save backup disk usgae from different angles. Except for incremental backup, it still allows you to compress backup image to smaller one or split backup image automatically, especially useful when you backup large files or the disk is very big.
Create bootable media for emergency use. It is able to create bootable USB or CD/DVD and help you boot a failing computer for system recovery.

To get started, please download the best fee disk imaging software - AOMEI Backupper Standard and install it on your computer. Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista supported. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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How to create a backup image of your hard drive

With free backup software, you can easily create image of hard drive in Windows 10/11 or other systems. Here take another hard drive as the destination, for instance.

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Standard and click Backup and Disk Backup in order. 

Disk Backup

Step 2. Input a task name to distinguish backup task from others. Click Add Disk to select the disk you want to backup and then another drive to receive backup image. 

You need to make a distinction between your hard drive which need to be backed up and the one you use to store the backup image.

Add Disk

Step 3. Set schedule backup if you want to protect system or data continuously. Once you enable it, this software will backup only changed files and reduce disk usage size as much as possible. Afterward, click Start Backup to backup disk in Windows 10 or other systems. 

Schedule Settings

Now you may already create an image of hard drive in Windows 10 or other systems. And you can backup all the contents on this disk continuously without human intervention. But over time, the backup disk is full due to accumulated backups and limited space, to prevent this issue from the beginning, it's suggested to use the automatic backup cleanup methods. 

Enable Automatic Backup Cleanup

And considering data security and ease of recovery, it's a better choice to use differential backup as backup method. Since it backs up only changed files since last full backup and only requires one full backup plus one of differential backup, preferably the latest one. Both features are available on the professional version or higher.  

Summary

You can easily create a backup image of your hard drive in Windows 10 with the help of best free backup software- AOMEI Backupper Standard. And it allows you to schedule backup disk in daily, weekly, monthly, only changes tracked. Besides, you can delete old backup image with one of automatic backup cleanup methods to make space for new backups. For ease of recovery, it's suggested to try differential backup. 

And it's one of the best disk cloning software. If you just want a quick way to upgrade hard drive, try disk clone feature. Similar to backup method, it will create an exact copy of hard drive, but you can directly boot from it without restoring image first.