By Ivy / Last update May 12, 2022

What is sector by sector backup?

Sector by sector backup is also called make an exact copy. With this feature, you can create an image of all sectors on the selected partition or disk. This image will contain not only sectors with data but also sectors that are empty, even bad sectors. As a result, this image will be almost the same size of the disk being imaged.

The working process of it is much the same as sector by sector clone. The main difference between them is the form of backup and clone.  The sector by sector backup will be compressed to an image file while sector by sector clone keeps both identical structure and properties as the source disk (drive status, drive size, drive letter, the number of volumes, etc.). And you can directly access, edit or delete data if you clone it sector by sector. 

Sector by sector backup vs. intelligent sector backup

Besides sector by sector backup, there is another backup mode - intelligent sector backup, which only backs up the used sectors of file systems. And this will reduce the size of the image file and backup time. You can even backup to a disk that is smaller than source disk. 

Below are the differences between them, you can select one backup mode based on your situation. 

  Sector by Sector Backup Intelligent Sector Backup
Backup Items all the used, empty and bad sector. encrypted disk are supported. only used sectors in partition or disk.
Image Size Larger  Smaller 
Backup Time Longer  Shorter

Generally speaking, the intelligent sector mode is widely used for its flexibility and time-saving. Some users ask why use the sector by sector backup mode. This is probably because there is some hidden data, deleted or corrupted files etc. And you can use it in the following two situations.

migrate system or disk to another one with secure boot. Some users report their computer becomes unbootable due to missing system reserved partition. Besides, any hidden system files missing or damaged may cause system fails to boot.

make an exact copy of partition or disk for data recovery. This usually occurs when your computer is in the process of failing (increasing bad sectors, etc) or some of your files are deleted mistakenly.

Best free sector by sector backup software 

Usually, Windows built-in tool backup the used sector of the file system, to backup partition or disk with sector by sector mode, you need a professional tool with this function, such as AOMEI Backupper Standard. And you can enjoy many useful backup features during the process:

It supports system backup, disk backup, partition backup and file backup. And the previous three backup method supports sector by sector backup.
It allows you to enable daily, weekly, monthly schedule backup to keep all the changes in a scheduled task.
It minimizes the disk space you will use with incremental backup, normal compression, automatic splitting, etc. And all of them are default features, you don't make an extra effort.
Besides backup, it allows you to restore system or disk from backup, even when your computer becomes unbootable. You can choose to create bootable USB or CD/DVD ahead of time.

And all the operations are based on intuitive interface, so all users can understand or use it easily. Please download it to have a try!

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

How to make a sector by sector backup

Here you will use "Disk Backup" to create an extact backup. Please connect the target disk to store backup image and be sure it's recognized. If the target disk does not hold everything on the original disk, try "System Backup" or "Partition Backup", depening on it's a system disk or data disk.

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper after installation. At the main interface, select Backup and Disk Backup.

Disk Backup

Step 2. Select the disk you need to backup by clicking Add Disk and then another location as the destination path.

Add Disk

Step 3. Click Options and Backup Mode, then select Make an Exact Backup under the Intelligent Sector. It requires the destination partition or disk size must be equal to or larger than the source one. 

Backup Mode

In daily use, you need to set more advanced features:

Schedule Backup: It allows you to create a file backup task running daily, weekly, monthly, or use event triggers and USB plug in feature on the professional version.

Backup Scheme: It is able to set backup method among full backup, incremental or differential backup and cleanup methods (By quantity, By daily/weekly/monthly, By time) to delete old backup image automatically.

4. click Start Backup to perform sector by sector backup.

Start Backup

About sector  by sector restore:

In general, if you backup system or disk sector by sector, you can subsequently restore them in sector-by-sector mode. And it will copy all used and unused sectors to the destination disks or partitions. 

And it is suggested to check the data integrity of the backup image with Check Image utility to ensure you would restore image successfully.

You need to select backup image and destination disk. When all this done, tick Sector By Sector Restore and click Start Restore. If you uncheck it, it will only restore used sectors and ignor unused sectors.

Sector By Sector Restore

If you have a backup of a disk with the corrupted file system, after running sector-by-sector restore, you may need to run chkdsk F: /r command to fix the file system corruption. F: is the disk number of target disk and you can replace it with others.

Conclusion

After understanding sector by sector backup and intelligent sector backup, you may know when you need to backup system or disk sector  by sector. And you can enjoy many backup features to make this task automatically and flexibly if you use AOMEI Backupper, for example, it supports backing up only changed files with incremental and differential backup to save disk space.

Besides backup, you can restore sysetm or disk to new hard drive. If you use it on a computer with different hardware, you can ensure secure boot with Universal Restore feature. And you are able to deploy system image to multiple computers simultaneously with the help of image deployment software in technician or techplus edition. All in all, it's worth trying software to protect data!